Nobody is perfect, but we all try to strive to be better than what we were yesterday.  There is nothing wrong with putting a bit of pressure on yourself to change habits that are affecting your health and life negatively.  Here are a few simple tips to help you initiate the change and make this year your best healthiest yet!  

Identify the habit. Pinpoint your negative habits and rank them in order of their negative impact. This also includes answering the many questions about what encourages your habit – ‘who, when and why?’

Tackle one habit at a time. Changing repetitive behavior takes time, effort and practice. If you’re serious about making a change, stick to one habit at a time. Once you’re sure you’ve conquered that for good, you can move onto the next issue (if there is one).

Remove temptation. If you’ve successfully determined the triggers of your habit, your next step is to avoid them. Whether it’s people, behavior or certain environments, steering clear of them is a must during the initial stages of changing a habit.

Find a replacement. The void left from a discontinued habit could take a few forms. Were you fulfilling a physical, emotional or stress-related need? Do you eat for comfort, drink when nervous in a social setting, or bite your nails when stressed? You may not find a replacement as effective, but you do need some sort of action to replace the negative behaviour. Preoccupying yourself with a new behaviour each time the urge hits is your first step to conditioning away a bad habit.

Get motivated. Because bad habits are particularly resistant to change, you need to build your motivation to ensure you carry out the change. Consider both the short and long term consequences of continuing with your habit. These can impact not only yourself but friends, family and loved ones. Consider what habits you are passing on to your children and grandchildren. Write a list of all the benefits you will receive by breaking your bad habit and read over these morning and night to keep your motivation levels high.

Try punishment versus reward. Incentives are powerful motivators when it comes to resisting temptation. Decide on consistent incentives while you’re attempting to recondition your behavior. A monthly spa treatment may keep you away from junk food, just as new wardrobe purchases may be a great way to treat yourself after a month of no cigarettes.

Have a support system. Telling the ones you love about your goals will create a network of support for you to rely on. You might find someone with a similar goal and decide to work together, or someone to vent to when the going gets tough. Be sure to also tell those closest to you the reason for your change. Loved ones reminding you of the personal reason for ditching a bad habit keeps you accountable.

Get back on the horse. Chances are there will be a few slip-ups on your road to a better you. That’s ok! Simply getting back on the bandwagon can be the most powerful conditioning tool of all. Having the resilience to correct mistakes at the next opportunity is an incredibly valuable behavior to learn.

Article by Lisa Raleigh

@LisaRaleighSA – Twitter