How to Break a Bad Habit

While most people have at least one habit they’d like to break, some are more detrimental than others. While biting your nails or regularly pressing snooze might be bothersome, a habit like smoking or eating junk food can shorten your lifespan.

It can be challenging to eliminate a habit, but it’s absolutely possible, and often necessary in order to improve your health.

Here are five steps to take to begin breaking a pattern that is no longer serving you!

1. Set a goal: Perhaps the first thing to focus on is why you want to break your habit, and what will be possible for you on the other side. Do you want to eat better and improve your health, to feel strong and vibrant while playing with your grandkids? Maybe you want to stop going to bed late so you can feel energized each morning. Once you’re clear on why you want to break your habit, start small and pick a simple goal to make things less overwhelming and more doable. Commit to one action step, for example swapping soda for water at just one meal for a week.

2. Identify your triggers: Now that you’re clear on what it is that you want to change and why, it’s important to know what situations might cause your bad habit. Awareness is power here, because once you open your eyes to the underlying trigger, it becomes easier to avoid or dismiss. For example, maybe you have a habit of watching T.V. every night, which keeps you up late without wanting to be, or you notice that stress causes you to reach for unhealthy foods that you otherwise wouldn’t choose. Noticing your triggers can provide you with other options: like reading a book instead of watching Netflix (which is designed to keep you watching!), or asking what you need when you’re stressed instead of turning to sugary snacks.

3. Pair your new habit with something else: When trying to incorporate a new behavior, it can be helpful to associate it with an existing habit you already have. For example, if you’re trying to make a habit of flossing, put the floss right next to your toothbrush to use before bed. Or if you want to add a probiotic to your daily routine, place the bottle right next to your coffee maker or tea pot to remind yourself to take it as you prepare your morning beverage!

4. Practice mindfulness: Once you become aware of your bad habit triggers, mindfulness can be a great tool for observing when you act on them. Practice noticing when you have an urge, without any judgement, and simply pay attention to it. For example, noticing your thoughts when you want to skip a workout, or what happens right before you drink a second glass of wine. The more you practice, the more aware you become, and you’ll find yourself considering your impulse before taking action, thus helping you break a habit.

5. Get support: Last but not least, seeking support can often be the final step in breaking a bad habit if you’re finding it challenging to do it alone or it’s a deeply ingrained behavior. Enlist a friend to exercise with, or your kids to cook healthy meals with. Perhaps a counselor or coach who specializes in the area you want to focus on could be instrumental in your journey. 

Whatever habit you’re trying to break, know that it’s going to be a process and there may be mistakes along the way. There’s no such thing as perfect, so keep your eye on the end goal and be compassionate with yourself!

If improving your gut health and overall well being is a personal goal, we’d recommend making a habit of taking a daily probiotic. Click here to browse our targeted products, and select an option based on what works best for your body!

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