It’s Monday morning and your alarm is going off. And then the second. You go through your morning routine, checking off each necessary evil as you look forward to being back in your bed. But the days are long, and five back-to-back days is a stretch. You look forward to the little things that can feel like salvation—a break from the chaos in your everyday grind.
For some, it’s a cigarette, or a bag of Miss Vickies Salt n’ Vinegar chips. For others, it might be a casual gossip session between classes. These habits become so natural, they almost seem necessary in order to maintain structure. When these habits become collective among social circles, they may be even more difficult to break. It almost feels as though without the habit, something would be missing.
There are many tactics that can be used to break bad habits, but here I will focus on a strategy for long-term success. As difficult as it is to kick one, adopting healthier, more productive habits can be just as difficult. Therefore, introducing a new, positive habit in place of the previous, harmful habit is one way to counteract the learned behaviour, while simultaneously feeling good about moving forward. This should also help erase the feeling that something is missing from your daily routine.
Once a habit is formed, we begin to make associations, whether subconscious or knowingly, that revolve around the habit. In the case of smoking, oftentimes if someone has a coffee while they smoke, they may feel the impulse to have a cigarette any time they go for a coffee. A possible way to redirect their attention when the impulse arrises could be to instead read a book, or review things that need to be accomplished that week.
Other common factors that can be challenging when trying to break a habit is when a person finds themselves in particular states of uneasiness. This might be tied to particular people or situations in their life. Obviously you can’t always avoid particular people or places; the point of breaking this habit is so you can live a successful and fulfilling life without unnecessary struggle. An immediate, short-term tactic when in the prescience of someone that sets you off is to focus on your breathing. As trivial as it may sound, if you’re aware of your breathing during the interaction, it may help keep you rooted in the moment, deterring your thoughts and feelings from being carried away.
If you aren’t quite sure of when you are most tempted to fall back into old patterns, or you find you can’t make new ones stick, it might be worth seeking help. In many cases, simply knowing why you’ve formed this habit in the first place can help stop it from taking over your life. Don’t suffer if you don’t have to—make a change.
Alicia Feizo has always loved literature and the endless possibilities of using words as creative expression. Her passions include poetry, magic realism and living an authentic life.