Q:

How do you quit bad habits?

A:

Quick Answer

To quit a bad habit, pay attention to when and why you engage in the bad habit. Keep a log of how often you engage in the habit, and substitute a replacement for the habit until it’s no longer automatic.

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Full Answer

  1. Notice when you engage in the habit

    The only way to break a bad habit is to become aware of when and why you engage in the habit. Make it a point to catch yourself in the act, then think about what is occurring when the habit is triggered. Awareness can help you stop.

  2. Keep a bad-habit log

    Once you’ve become conscious of the habit, and what situations trigger it, start writing down every time you notice yourself enacting the habit. Do this for at least a week. Write down the time, place, what is occurring and how you feel every time the habit is triggered. Write down how you believe you benefit from the habit, as well as the cons of engaging in the behavior.

  3. Replace the habit

    After becoming aware of the habit and keeping a log of how often and why you engage in the habit, replace it with a more positive action. For example, if you bite your nails, chew gum instead. Over time the compulsion toward the habit lessens and eventually disappears entirely.

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