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How to Break a Habit

Have you caught yourself cracking your knuckles more often than usually because of lockdown boredom? No matter if the habit is smoking, biting your nails, skipping breakfast or pencil chewing, we have some tips for you to help improve your behaviour.

1. Understand why you do it

This could be something as simple as being bored, stressed or having anxiety. Maybe there’s a certain situation or a stimulus that triggers you? Habits are a part of your routine and therefore hard to stop. Often there’s also a reward associated with the habit which makes you repeat the behaviour.

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2. Find a reason to quit

We all know that smoking is bad for you, but often breaking a habit requires more information. For example, how much money do you spend on cigarettes in a month or a year? If you quit smoking, how long would it take to save enough money for a holiday abroad? On the other hand, maybe you want to change your behaviour for someone else: perhaps your partner hates the sound of cracking knuckles.

3. Replace the behaviour

Keep in mind that your brain can be biologically addicted to a habit, for example a daily dose of sugar. If eating chocolate is your weakness, buy grapes instead. In case biting your fingernails is a problem, get yourself a fidget toy or a stress ball. You could even put plasters or tape on your fingertips.

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4. Spend time on a plan

Simply not spending any money on takeaways for the rest of the year isn’t a solid plan. Breaking a habit is a process that requires determinism and making a change overnight isn’t easy nor realistic. Set yourself a goal and stick to it but remember to consider what happens if you find yourself chewing a pencil again: the process involves ups and downs. Instead of quitting a habit straight away, make a gradual change in your behaviour by tracking the number of times or minutes you spend on doing the habit.

5. Tell someone about it

This will help you keep motivated throughout the process. Perhaps your friend has even stopped biting their nails too and can give you some hints. If you know someone with a bad habit, you could try stop them together or even compete! Don’t forget that with certain habits, for example gambling and alcoholism, professional help can be needed.

6. Reward yourself

Success is rewarding itself, but a monthly reward might give you the extra boost needed during challenging times. Go for a walk with a friend or have your favourite cuisine for dinner!

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7. Download an app for tracking process

Reflecting on your progress helps you keep on top of your game and an app is a great way for doing so. On HabitBull you can track several habits at a time, get a streak for successful days and see your overall progress as a percentage.

8. Mindset

Attitude plays an important role and judging yourself isn’t helpful. Remember that quitting a habit is a change in your lifestyle, not only a month or two when you avoid doing something. You have already taken the initiative for improving your behaviour by reading this post!