We all know that a bad habit is hard to break.
We also know that good habits are hard to start.
Habits require hard work to change. Most of us really don’t enjoy the work that is involved in making a change permanent. But the rewards of making that change are usually pretty great. So why can’t we get our “stuff” together to change our habits?
We perform habits somewhat automatically. Our brain perceives subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) cues and then enacts a system that leads to a reward. Cues and rewards can be anything. What happens in between is a habit. Habits can be destructive as well as helpful.
Feeling anxious can trigger the desire to feel less anxious. Many methods exist that aid in reducing anxious feelings but we are good at inventing our own. Alcohol, pornography, drugs, and food are some unhealthy ways to cope with anxiety and are hard habits to break.
According to Charles Duhigg in his recent book The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Business and Lifehabits can be changed as long as the cue and the reward stay the same. For example, when anxious feelings arise choosing to take a walk is a better alternative to achieve the reward of not feeling anxious.
It really can be this simple. Yet actually being able to change our habits is hard work. But here are a few steps that can make the process smoother:
You can change your habits. You might just need to get started first. If you are having trouble getting started or maintaining a habit you may want to consider consulting with a professional.
Do you have other tips? Share them in the comments below! Also, be sure sign up for email updates to get the monthly mental health tip sheet.