4 Top Tips for Breaking Old Habits

You know what they say about old habits, old habits die hard. These tips are tailored to make breaking old habits easier. This guide will introduce you to becoming aware of and breaking old habits by giving you 4 top tips to break old habits. 

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Becoming Aware of Habits

Becoming aware of habits is the most important thing you can do to break old habits. To become aware of your habits you must become aware of the three things that go into making a habit: the cue, the routine, and the reward.

The cue is the stimuli that causes the behavior of the habit, the routine is the habit behavior, and the reward is the benefit of the behavior. For example, if you have a habit of biting your lip when you are stressed about work, the cue would be stressful situations at work, the routine is the biting of your lip, and the reward is, presumably, the relief of stress.

Identifying behaviors of your habits, or the routines, can be the easiest part of the habit to identify. To determine why you engage in this behavior, you must determine the perceived reward or benefit of the behavior. To determine when you engage in this behavior, you must determine the cue or stimuli that provoked this response.

There are many ways to become aware of your habits. One of the best ways to become aware of your habits is to keep a habits journal. You can note behaviors or thoughts that come up repeatedly in each circumstance in your journal, or you can make a list of habits you’d like to develop and mark off when you do them.

Tip 1: Replace the old habit with a new habit.

An excellent way to get rid of an old habit is to replace it with a new habit. This can ensure that you are still getting a reward in that circumstance, it’s just with a different behavior.

For instance, if we go back to the previous example of biting your lip when stressed at work, you could replace that behavior with something more productive like doodling on a piece of paper. Whenever you catch yourself biting your lip at work, or you know a stressful situation is coming up, stop biting your lip. Next, grab a pen and paper and start to draw.

Tip 2: Create reminders and notifications.

Reminders are super helpful when trying to break old habits!

Create a set of reminders for yourself to note throughout the day that remind you of several different things. You want to have reminders that are positive and inspiring like “You can do this!” and you also want to have reminders that encourage you to reduce or stop a certain behavior, like “Don’t drink a soda right now.”

Tip 3: Use the mindfulness practice to your advantage.

Mindfulness is not just for yoga or meditation sessions. It can be very helpful in breaking old habits or any habit that you want to get rid of.

Mindfulness can help you to become aware of your actions, and can provoke thoughts as to why you are engaging in this behavior, as a way to recognize cues and rewards for your habits.

Tip 4: Prepare yourself for mistakes.

Mistakes and trip-ups happen. That is almost guaranteed with anything that you do, especially when it comes to breaking old habits. Habits are so ingrained in our processes that it can be hard to break them. In the words of our favorite blue fish, “Just keep swimming!”

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