Busting bad habits takes time and effort. However, the best way to ensure they stay gone for good is to substitute them with a better, healthier alternative. No matter why the bad habit started in the first place, or how long you’ve battled it for, you can put a stop to the way it affects your health.

And we’re here to make that change easier. Check out our tips below for building ‘good’ habits out of the ashes of behaviors that bother you. They won’t make things immediately possible, but they can help you to think constructively about the long term changes you want to make.

Set A Realistic Goal

It takes practice to change a habit – things won’t immediately ‘get better’. Setting yourself up for a goal that looks like this means you’re only going to fail, at which point you’re likely to go back to bad habits and stick with them for much longer. Instead, you need to be realistic about what you can achieve, and what that means for your journey.

Say you want to change the way you handle your emotions. Maybe you always bottle them up and they come spilling out at a random point, usually with disastrous consequences. You’re not going to suddenly stop doing that, even if you’re writing things down or trying to talk about your feelings more often.

You need to focus on what’s more achievable, rather than a total absence of the behavior. For example, being able to resist the urge to lash out, or being able to apologise for something you said in the heat of the moment.

Avoid Cold Turkey

Going cold turkey is a bad idea. Some people swear by it but it’s the worst method for ridding yourself of a bad habit sustainably. Quitting on will power alone sounds like a good thing, but it can set an unrealistic precedent. Most of all, it puts a lot of pressure on you for ‘not being strong enough’, and in some cases, it can even be dangerous.

Baby steps might be frustrating and make you feel like you’re not getting anywhere, but they really do build lifetime habits without you even realising it. It’s why so many people replace smoking tobacco with vaping safer liquids like 10mg nic salts; even though you’re still ‘smoking’, you’re not coating your lungs with tar or filling your blood with carbon monoxide.

Be Unconventional

There are no rules to habit building. If you need to keep the toothbrush in your bedroom to remind yourself to brush in the mornings, keep it there. If you need to put the bins in front of the back door to remind yourself to sort the recycling from general waste, put them there. If it’s going to help you build a better habit, be unconventional in your methods.

Bad habits won’t ruin your life forever. Work smartly, reduce the effort involved, and be realistic about what can be changed. You’ll get there eventually.

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