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Friday, July 22, 2011

Tips for Breaking Bad Habits

Being successful in university is largely dependent on forming good habits. Study habits, eating schedules, multitasking skills, class/gym/work/study/friends routines, to name a few. Bad habits can make it a lot harder to be successful, especially if your "poor habits" are things like watching TV instead of studying, or pulling all-nighters every single night. These are my tips for breaking bad habits, and forming new, good ones!

#1. Admit when you need to break a habit.

As is true in any case, admitting you have a problem is step one! You can’t break a bad habit until you’ve recognized you have one. Whether it’s a habit that’s bad for your health (i.e. smoking, not sleeping, not eating), or one you’re simply not happy with (i.e. biting your fingernails, staying up all night on Facebook,taking the long way home everyday because there’s a cute boy who lives on that route who you may or may not run into), is not so important. The important thing is that you’re making this change for you, and you’re commited to making the change.

#2. Jump in head-first

Let’s say, for example, your bad habit is studying for hours on end, and then crashing from exhaustion. Make a point to take study beaks every half-hour or so. Set a timer so you don’t forget. Force yourself to stop and takea ten – fifteen minute break because you know it’s good for you, even though your body is telling you it’s breaking a routine. You’ve decided to break a habit, and you literally need to break it, sometimes with brute force!

#3. Build a strong support circle

Tell your friends, roommates, or family that you’re trying to break a habit, and ask them to help you out. If you’re trying to stop ordering dessert every time you eat out, let your dining companions know this, so they can help support you and keep you on track. This is especially important if you have a hard time breaking habits or changing routines; often, all you need is someone to remind you of your goal to help you reach it.

#4. If you relapse, don’t come down hard on yourself.

If you’re trying to stop biting your nails, for example, and you notice you’ve been unconscioulsy gnawing on your cuticles while watching T.V., don’t get mad at yourself or feel likea failure. Positivity will get you much farther than negativity ever will. Acknowledge you’ve hit a road bump, and start again. After all, you’re the one who wants to break this habit, you’re doing it for you and you alone, so your biggest supporter should be you.

#5. Reward yourself

If you’ve gone a week without chewing your hair, smoking a cigarette, or pulling an all-nighter, reward yourself! Breaking habits is hard, especially when you’re a university student who has millions of things to think about at once, so indulge yourself! Last year I had a terrible habit of eating at the most expensive spot on campus every day, so if I’d go a week without eating there I’d treat myself to one meal as a reward. I also had a bad habit of only taking my make-up off at night, but never actually washing my face. So if I’d go a couple weeks without forgetting to clean and moisturize my skin, I would buy myself a new make-up item or something.

#6. Form GOOD habits

Sometimes it takes forming a good habit to break a bad one, like in my face-washing example above. Focus on the positive. Instead of thinking about getting rid of bad behaviour, focus on creating good beahviours. Try getting into the habit of attending yoga classes. Or, if you have poor study habits try and form a whole new study schedule. That way, your focus is on creating something new rather than destroying something old. Breaking bad habits and creating good habits really do go hand-in-hand, more often than not. It's a lot easier to create a new study schedule (and stick to it) if you're going into it with a positive mindset. You can't simply "get rid of" a poor study schedule without introducing a new one.

Stay strong! You’re capable of more than you think!

Stay motivated, stay happy and healthy! Happy habit-breaking : )

Twitter: @SororitySisKels

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