You're super stressed out at work, and you start biting your nails. Or it's 2 pm, and you find yourself in an energy slump -- you reach for some donuts in the kitchen and begin to eat one, even though you're on a diet. Do these scenarios sound familiar?
You know that bad habits prevent you from reaching your goals. Whether it's mid-day snacking, an insatiable sweet tooth, procrastinating, or skipping workouts, feeling powerless in the face of these bad habits can take a toll on your self-esteem and motivation.
Want to learn more? Here are four steps to changing a bad habit:
1. Identify the stages
Bad habits form because of three distinct stages -- cue, routine, and reward. Identify the cue, routine, and reward stages for the bad habit you're trying to change. You should also write down the circumstances surrounding the behavior, including the person you're with and the emotions you're feeling.
2. Explore alternatives
Brainstorm healthier habits that'll produce the results you want. Ask yourself which alternative behaviors might provide comparable rewards to the one you're trying to eliminate? What else would give you a sense of happiness and accomplishment? Then create a list of option. Focus on new routines that help you de-stress and put you in a positive frame of mind.
3. Commit to change
Commit to changing your bad habits by adopting new ones instead. Chart your progress and don't be afraid to experiment and tweak as you go along. For instance, maybe you discover that you prefer running to meditating to relieve stress.
4. Expect setbacks
Changing behaviors is hard. And the occasional slip-up will happen, so don't beat yourself up. To better prepare, anticipate and plan for setbacks. If you're trying to eat healthier, think through situations that might challenge your healthy eating habits.
One step at a time
Changing bad habits doesn't happen overnight. It takes dedication and commitment. To slowly change bad habits over time, you need to understand how they formed in the first place, and then replace them with healthier habits. Don't be afraid to call on your friends and family for support.