A Quick Fix: Eliminate Bad Habits
When the man on the traffic light goes green, you cross the street. It doesn’t require much thought at all.
And something would certainly feel wrong if the little man were to encourage you to walk when it turns red. It just wouldn’t feel right.
Do you have stress-busting eating habits? Or do you habitually add yet another teaspoon of sugar to your coffee compromising your health and gaining weight, and keeping locked into unhealthy, overweight runaway-eating habits? Or perhaps you go to bed after midnight yet again and suffer sleep deprivation?
If so, you’re doing the same thing as when you start to walk at the sight of the green man. You give in to specific circuits in your brain.
These circuits are also known as habits – for better or for worse. And the marks they leave behind in the form of circuits are exactly why it’s so difficult to break a habit.
They’re wired into you already. When we know the reasons behind it all, it suddenly becomes a bit easier to get the upper hand and regain control.
Here is how you can stop with those silly new year’s resolutions and break your bad habits once and for all.
Why is it so difficult to change our ways?
As we know, our brains have simplified everything for us by working on a trigger and reward basis. This is also known as the ‘habit loop’ what keeps you craving that sugar that boosts the reward center of your brain. This habit loop is what makes it difficult to break unhealthy habits.
We often go on autopilot throughout the day and complete tasks automatically. This is a good thing, though, and makes it easier to repeat the same tasks every day without having to spend unnecessary concentration on it.
When your brain is on a habit loop, you’re going to keep up those repetitive but unhealthy activities that you’ve been enjoying so far. These can include such habits as smoking cigarettes, rewarding yourself with sugar, and choosing to fall into your comfortable arm chair rather than go swimming or take a walk as part of your consistent fitness routine at the end of the day.
Visualize and Choose
Think about it like this; a person who continually goes for a jog after work feels good about herself afterward. And the reward center is triggered yet again. She keeps it up and forms a habit, one that will be equally difficult to break as your sugar-craving circuits.
You need to give yourself a reason to quit the bad habits and, preferably, visualize all the benefits you’re going to get out of it.
Make a list, first of all, and memorize it to make it a part of your mind. As an example, you might find it easier to compensate and slowly break the bad habit of smoking by abstinence for a period rather than having another cigarette.
Every day, you have to make the conscious decision of picking a good habit over a bad habit and remind yourself of why you’re doing it.
Experts say it takes about two months to form a new habit, so keep it up and don’t expect to take short cuts. You’re changing the patterns of your brain, after all.
The good news is that now that you’ve identified your bad habits and understood why they’re so painful to eliminate, you’ve already taken a major step in the right direction. This is your brain on a learning loop – which is also an excellent state to be in.