Research has shown that on average it can take 66 days to form a new habit, but did you know that it can take only 21 days to break one?
Not all habits are bad, many give us structure to our day and help us organise our otherwise hectic lives, but some can be unbeneficial for overall health. If you think you have a bad habit that needs breaking, then below are our top tips to help set you on your way…
1. Change your habit
If you have an ingrained habit that you are finding hard to break, not replacing it with something can leave you feeling as though something as missing. Try changing your bad habit for a good / health benefiting one. For example, if you are trying to stop eating something sweet after your meal, why not introduce a nice warm cup of herbal tea or a handful of washed berries instead? By the time you have had this you might realise you don’t want to satisfy that sweet tooth after all.
2. Set small and achievable goals
Many people when they try to break a habit go cold turkey and don’t set small step-by-step goals. This means that when you then fall off the bandwagon you are more likely to want to give up completely as it seems an un-achievable task. Why not set daily or weekly challenges that add up to the bigger goal, such as cutting back your daily intake of coffee or reducing it to one every other day, then cut back completely. This gives you a time frame to work within and seeing yourself achieve weekly goals will also increase motivation to continue. Don’t fall into the trap of having a weekly ‘treat’ as it will only reinforce the habit during the cycle of breaking it.
3. Focus on the positives not the negatives
Don’t focus on what ‘you’re not allowed any more’, focus on what you are gaining; more energy, a sense of empowerment, a sense of achievement and a focus on positive habits you are putting in place, for example increased exercise or better diet. When we feel hard done by as though you ‘can’t’ have something then you are more likely to focus on it and crave it. At the end of the day, if you really want something have it, but in moderation, it can help settle cravings – just don’t go all out and then give up altogether.
4. Pair up
You are more likely to succeed if you are accountable for something. If you are trying to add exercise into your weekly routine or improve your diet, why not find a friend who wants to achieve the same as you and do it together? If you are going to an early morning class, agree to meet and then turn your phone off so you can’t cancel late at night or first thing in the morning – that way you will turn up as you won’t want to stand up your friend. If you’re wanting to improve your diet why not check-in with each other at the end of each day letting them know what you’ve eaten… it might sound crazy, but it works. At Hub we run small group classes along with buddy 2:1 or 3:1 training sessions, where your friend(s) and the personal trainers will hold you accountable.
5. Don’t beat yourself up
Ok, so we’ve said that it can take up to 21 days to break a habit, but it is important to remember that this is an average. As we know all of us are different and therefore this isn’t going to be the same for everyone. If you find that on day 22 you are still biting your nails or craving that morning coffee, then don’t beat yourself up. Remember, set smaller achievable goals and don’t try to change everything at once…. Rome wasn’t built in a day! Give yourself a break, you’re only human after all!
At Hub, through manual therapy, nutritional care and physical exercise we work with you individually and set small achievable goals which when added together amount to something great.