Welcome to Day Three of “New Year, New You” Week! We are exploring the TOP FIVE NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS that are made each January. Monday we talked about Weight Loss, yesterday it was Organization, and today we’re getting down to the nitty gritty…breaking bad habits. Take it from an alcoholic in recovery, this is definitely easier said than done. But, it can be done.
Based on personal experience, the BEST way to really, truly BREAK a bad habit is to REPLACE it with a GOOD one! This is something that my counselors in rehab were quite insistent about. Thankfully I heeded their advice and am here to talk about it today. Although it wasn’t easy, and I can never let my guard down.
First of all, let’s take just a minute to talk a little bit about WHY bad habits are so hard to break in the first place. It has to do with science and biology. Certain pleasure-based habits such as overeating or abusing drugs can prompt your brain to release a chemical called dopamine. It conditions the brain to want that reward again and again – reinforcing the connection each time. The brain memorizes behaviors that are linked to getting a particular reward. These behaviors can become hardwired in our brains, and the brain’s reward centers keep us craving the things we’re trying so hard to resist.
Stinks huh? Well, the GOOD news is, we humans are not simply creatures of habit and there are some steps that may help counter our brain’s hold on these bad habits.
Which brings us back where we started…..replacing BAD habits with GOOD ones!
For example, when I graduated from rehab my counselors gave me one last piece of advice. They said I needed to “find my passion” or I would end up right back where I was. After a few stops and starts…I ended up starting this blog and the rest is history. I have definitely found my passion and while sometimes it can border on an “addiction”, at least it’s a much healthier one. :-)
Here’s another example. My friend Julie has tried numerous times to quit smoking. She would succeed for a short time, but always went back.
Last month she decided to try again. She used an essential oil blend of equal parts Black Pepper, Lemon, and Eucalyptus and inhaled deeply every time she was tempted to smoke. (CLICK HERE to read more on this National Institute of Health Study.)
She also used Jeddy’s Blend to help with the symptoms she was having due to the nicotine withdrawals (irritability, anxiety, difficulty concentrating, etc.)
She was actually quite amazed at how much the essential oils helped her STOP smoking. But, of course, we know that’s only half the battle. Now she had to STAY stopped.
Here are the steps she and I are both taking to keep the bad habits BROKEN:
Find a replacement.
Bad habits address certain needs in your life so you need to replace them with habits that satisfy that same need. For example, if you smoke when you get stressed, come up with a different way to deal with stress and insert that new behavior instead of having a cigarette.
Repeat, repeat, REPEAT the new behavior.
Resolved to exercise? Doing it consistently at the same each day makes the brain recognize the habit so eventually you will begin to crave that too!
Speaking of exercise…….it raises dopamine levels too, giving you the same feel-good hit that those bad habits USED to.
Stuck to your diet for a week straight? Buy a book, a great pair of shoes, or try a new restaurant.
R E L A X.
Stress can reactivate bad-habits. Take time for a BLISS BATH!
Tame the triggers.
If you smoke when you drink, then don’t go to the bar. If you eat cookies when they are in the house, then throw them away. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about bad habits it’s that you have to constantly guard yourself against falling back into their evil clutches!
Bad habits may be hard to change, but it can be done. And if you don’t get it right the first time…DON’T GIVE UP. Most people who end up breaking their bad habits try and fail multiple times before they make it work.
We can do it!!!!