Breaking Bad Habits

Posted on January 23, 2012


Why It’s So Hard to Change

Habits can arise through repetition. They are part of life, and are often helpful. For example when we wake up in the morning and get ready to start your day (brush your teeth, comb hair, makeup and breakfast). Most of the stuff you do during that time period is automatic and you don’t really have to think about it, when you do them. “When behaviors become automatic, it gives us an advantage, because the brain does not have to use conscious thought to perform the activity”.  Habits can also develop when enjoyable events trigger the brain’s “reward” centers. This can lead to potentially harmful routines, such as overeating, smoking, gambling, and ect. The way both kinds of habits works are the same, but there is one huge difference. Enjoyable behaviors can prompt your brain to release a chemical called dopamine which can over time strengthen the habit. When those habits are not acting upon dopamine creates the craving to do it again. However practicing self-control can strengthen your willingness to change a habit. Ways to improve your self-control is by doing “exercises” overtime. Once aware of your unhealthy habits, develop strategies to counteract them. For example, habits can be linked in our minds to certain places and activities. You can develop a plan, like, avoid walking down the hall where there’s a vending machine. Stay away from places where you’ve usually smoked. Sometimes replacing the bad habit is to actively replace it with healthy ones. To read more on the topic click here.