Breaking Bad Habits

By Beth Wilson


What comes to mind when you think of the number twenty-one?

For me I think of my birthday as mine is the 21st of December. Or maybe it’s your house number?

21 is actually the number of days it takes on average to break a habit.

All of us have the odd bad habit that we would rather not have. Just a few examples may be:

  • Biting your nails

  • Sleeping in a lot

  • Takeaways

  • Social media

  • Swearing

  • Chocolate

These are all minor habits that, when we put our mind to it, can be stopped.

Habits are routines of behaviour that are repeated or exposed to regularly - and often without conscious thought. They work in a cycle of a cue that triggers a routine (habit) that gives you a reward.

Breaking or fixing a minor habit is therefore not that difficult. We must identify all three of these components and try and chose a different behaviour instead. So this is where the 21 days come in. In principle these steps seem straightforward and easy but unless you stick with it, consciously focusing on the changes you wish to make, then the habit will continue.

Changing that little habit that annoys you (or others!) is one thing you can do to improve your mood... it’s that simple!

In these unprecedented times and whilst being in lockdown, it's extremely easy to fall into the trap of bad habits for it takes less time to learn a new bad habit than to break one. For most people, social media can often be a bad habit. Boredom is the cue and the things we see are the reward. Spending too much time on social media, or our phones in itself, isn’t healthy so a way to break this could be to put your phone aside and make a conscious effort to do an activity such as yoga for example... something to distract us.

You have to make habits to break habits.

Spending your time wisely in times like this is crucial. Now is the time to make new, healthy habits and get rid of those bad ones! Taking up some new hobbies or reigniting that passion for an old one.

Perhaps you have a habit of letting your room, workspace or home get cluttered and messy? Why not take some time to reorganise your belongings? This can help make your environment feel inviting and calmer. For most of us, our time will be spent inside now, so this is a great way to be productive.

Baking and cooking is another amazing way to unwind (and distract yourself from bad habits). We may not all be talented in the kitchen but following a nice easy recipe for dinner can be extremely satisfying to complete. Given we have the time to practice now, it can help us learn valuable skills to use throughout our lives. And if you are in isolation with others, the reaction of those around you when you present them your finished dish will be well worth it and bring a smile to everyone's face!

To change your life, change your habits.

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