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5 Steps to help change unwanted habits

Updated: Jul 3, 2019

1. Spend time thinking about your habit before taking action:

Before trying to change a habit, take some time to consider it thoroughly first; List every reason why you want to stop, record every time you catch yourself doing it and noting what’s happening at the time e.g. your mood, what happened to trigger it, circumstances etc. You will be better prepared to overcome your habit with this preparation.

2. Create a plan:

Once you have established what triggers your habit you can then create a plan for what you will do instead, when you are triggered in future. Keep the plan as simple as possible, replacing unwanted habits with more positive habits e.g instead of biting your nails, chew on a stick of celery or raw carrot.

3. Train yourself to think differently about your habit:

Make a list of all the negative aspects of your unwanted habit and keep the list handy at all times. We tend to keep repeating habits because of the satisfaction or psychological reward they provide us with in the moment, without thinking of the longer-term consequences. If you catch yourself thinking any positive thoughts or feelings about your unwanted habit, then refer to your list to remind yourself of the negative aspects.

4. Take time and make small changes :

Be patient with yourself and take small steps, building up to the overall change that you want rather than trying to make one big dramatic changes, for example you could stop biting the nail of one finger and then add another finger, building up to the nails on one hand, then increasing it to one finger on the other hand and so on.

5. Review Relapses:

If you have a relapse, write a review of what happened; what was the trigger? What was your mood? What were the circumstances? Review the points above to see if you missed any of them, which then caused the relapse. Use this as a way to understand what happened so that you can avoid it in the future.

Overall be kind to yourself, our habits are formed over long periods and therefore they take time and effort to change them. If you are motivated to do so and prepared to put the time and effort in, you can overcome any habit that you want to change.


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