How to replace bad habits with good ones

There is more to leading a healthy lifestyle than diet and exercise. Your mindset also plays a big role in holistic living, and kicking bad habits to the curb is a great way to start. When bad habits start to manifest, they have a negative effect on our health, both mentally and physically. Whether it’s staying in a bad relationship or spending too much time on social media these habits are unconsciously doing more harm than good.

It may seem impossible to change these unhealthy patterns at first, but with a bit of determination, it can be done.

How to replace bad habits with good ones

The cycle

A habit is an unconscious pattern of behavior that is usually involuntary. This psychological process is referred to as the “habit loop,” which is comprised of three components. The trigger, the routine, and the reward. The trigger is an emotion that signals the brain to respond with an action. The action is the routine, and the reward is the positive feeling we get after the action has been done. For example, if you feel stressed or bored, the brain will trigger a repetitive action in response to the emotion, such as overeating, or buying a new pair of shoes. The slight euphoria you feel after buying new shoes is the reward, the brain’s own way of alleviating the boredom or stress. The problem arises because when a habit is formed, the brain does not differentiate between a good or a bad habit. The good news is that this cycle can be reprogrammed to form healthier reactions to the emotions.

Substitute the routine

The first thing to do is to create a healthier action or response to the emotional trigger. Instead of scrolling through social media when boredom strikes, find a more positive substitute like going for a walk or meditating. If you tend to bite your nails or grind your teeth when you are stressed, try to become more aware of these habits and replace them with other habits like playing with a stress ball or going to the gym to blow off some steam.

Eliminate temptation

Most habits are triggered by temptation. The temptation to eat chocolates or to get back with your ex for the hundredth time. Whatever the temptation may be, it should be cut out from your life. Throw out chocolate bars next to your bed, spend less on things that you don’t need, block your ex’s number, or put your phone in flight mode every once in a while to give yourself a break from social media.

How to replace bad habits with good ones

Reward yourself

It is easier to stick to a new habit when there is a reward. That is the reason habits are formed in the first place. If you have gone a week without biting your nails, treat yourself for that accomplishment. The reward can be anything from a day at the salon to dinner at your favorite restaurant. The only catch is that the reward itself should not form another bad habit. If you want to stop eating junk food, don’t reward yourself with a candy bar, instead, treat yourself to a new dress.

Don’t be too hard on yourself if you don’t succeed at first. It takes a lot of patience and effort to kick a bad habit, but with enough perseverance, it can be done.