Speaking Mental Health
Forward Times Mental Health Advisors
Have you ever felt overwhelmed with bad habits and decided to do something positive for yourself? You have good intentions to change then, you face the serious question….HOW?
Bad habits are hard to break because as we continue the routines and they are laced with pleasure, our brains become programmed to continue to desire the pleasurable experiences. When we realize the habits that we intend to break, it is helpful to also know the triggers of the patterns or habits. Knowing what the triggers are and doing something different about the triggers will help in setting new patterns and behaviors. For instance, if your excessive snacking is triggered by stress, the first thing you would do is to make sure you do not have access to unhealthy snacks. Limit the unhealthy snacks at home or work, incorporate healthy snacks while slowly eliminating the unhealthy snacks altogether. Replace the sugary snacks with healthy fruit. So the next time you are stressed, reach for the fruit or listen to pleasing music to relax.
Remember, changing bad habits does not happen overnight. Typically, it takes a while before these habits are established so it may take just as long to replace them with more healthy patterns of behavior. Finding time to discuss your progress with a trusted person would reinforce your success and boost your confidence and esteem. Set goals and reward yourself! You deserve it! Save the money from excessive snacks and buy something for yourself.
Begin by reflecting about what you want to change. Start with a manageable goal.
Find a healthy substitute for the bad habit you are getting rid of. Substituting the bad habit will be more manageable than eliminating the behavior and not replacing it with something positive and/or healthy. Keep in mind you will commit to this substitution for 30 days before it becomes a new practice.
Find an accountability partner. Someone to walk this journey with you and keep you encouraged will make the experience more positive and manageable for you.
Remember to set reasonable and measurable goals. Replacing bad habits can be challenging so you will need to have a way to measure your success. Think about what you want to change, write out your goals and get started on your new journey!
Angela M. Powell, Ph.D., LPC-S, CSC
Dr. Angela M. Powell is a Licensed Professional Counselor and owner of Progressive Counseling & Consulting, LLC., specializing in youth trauma, anxiety, and depression.