unhealthy habits

Ideas To Help You Break Unhealthy Habits

Struggling with an unhealthy habit can discourage us to the verge of giving up. It may feel overwhelming to come face to face with that mountain. However, rest assured that the mountain can be moved. 

By observing the steps below, you can be readily equipped on how to break any addiction or unhealthy habit.  

What Is A Bad Or Unhealthy Habit?

As defined by ‘Medical Dictionary,’ an unhealthy habit is ‘A patterned behavior regarded as detrimental to physical or mental health.’ If these behavioral patterns are left unchecked, they can progress into a much more serious issue. This is why it is vital to combat these problems at the root before they blossom into something more. 

How Are Habits And Addictions Related?

Bad habits are a milder precedent to addiction yet are no less severe as they ultimately lead to addiction. Taking your unhealthy habits seriously is what will spare you from relapse.

Preventing habitually unhealthy routines will ensure that the next step of addiction will not take hold of your life. Viewing your unhealthy habits from this perspective will help you grasp the necessity of altering your behavioral pattern.

Also, identifying the correlation between a habit and an addiction helps us follow through with the necessary steps to overcoming bad habits in recovery.

How To Break Any Addiction Or Habit

Much like addiction, it can be difficult to accept a change that needs to be made. Once a behavioral pattern is established, it becomes impulsive and, in many cases, escapes personal recognition. Again, these unhealthy patterns in our lives develop those habits that lead to relapse. 

Accept a Change Must be Made

By identifying the unhealthy patterns affecting you mentally or physically, you can then determine what needs to be altered or removed from your life. Without first accepting that a change in behavior needs to be made, one cannot make the necessary adjustments. Only then can one proceed with the following keys that can be life-altering if taken to heart. By equipping you with the tools below, you will have the power to break any habits that before seemed improbable.

No “Just in case” Exceptions

What this means is don’t make a “just in case” plan to revert to old habits. If you’re breaking a smoking habit, don’t leave a pack in your drawer ”‘just in case” you want one. You will always want one, and temptation is a daily battle. Don’t open yourself up to the opportunity to revert. 

This will always lead to relapse. Ultimately, the breaking or developing of any habit comes down to a personal choice. You need to choose that there’s no turning back.

Have A Stronger Accountability Partner

This isn’t to say the individual is stronger than you as a person. This simply means your struggles require the support of an individual stronger in the areas that you are not. For example, one with a smoking habit would be unwise to choose an accountability partner with a smoking problem. Oft times, two friends with the same addiction will make a pact with rightful intentions. The outcome, however, is likely to have adverse effects on both parties.

Have a dependable accountability partner who is strong in the areas of which you are weakest. More importantly, allow them to assert that role in your life without backlash. If you truly wish to break any habit or addiction, you must be willing to accept the council of your peers. Once beginning the process of breaking any addiction or habit, an accountability partner is there to encourage you every step of the way.

Take Baby Steps

Many people fail to break the bonds of their addiction simply by trying to do too much, too soon. The most important thing to consider when breaking any unhealthy habitual pattern is to not take on more than you can chew. If you attempt to tackle the big picture immediately, you are likely to get discouraged and give up. 

Think of breaking your unhealthy habits the same way one would consider building muscle in the weight room. You don’t enter the gym for the first time and immediately attempt to lift a 50 lb dumbbell in each hand(and if you did, I would hurt with you). You begin with a 2-5lb dumbbell and gradually work your way up.

In the context of breaking habits of an unhealthy nature, hone in on one single pattern you need to change in your life. Take tiny progressive victories in disrupting those patterns. Identify one aspect or behavior you wish to change and focus on that for a while. 

Train Your Thoughts

Before any habit is performed, it is first developed in the mind. Instead of thinking of the habit as pleasurable, remember all the negatives it poses in your life. Use the negatives of that unhealthy habitual pattern to fuel your disdain of the act itself.

Furthermore, when the desire to indulge an old habit comes to mind, hold that thought hostage. Consider how and why that thought came about. Was it a friend that fueled the desire? Was it a place? Were you lonely? Whatever source caused the desire to enter your mind, avoid that source at all costs. 

The Causes Of Bad Habits In Recovery

Accomplishing anything in life takes work, and continued effort in your recovery is no different. Many relapses occur because of a progressive lax in standards. Several factors contribute to loosening the standards you worked so hard to implement. Here are just a couple of key factors that can cause us to be susceptible to falling into old patterns.

Make A Plan For Hard Times

Remember, while you may not have control over what goes on around you, you have control over the choices you make. Ultimately, only you choose whether or not you wish to continue in good habits. When the circumstances you can’t control overcome you, overcome them with the choices you can control.

Everybody goes through difficult times in variable forms. A break-up, financial struggle, or other negative factors can discourage us from succumbing to old habits.

Wrong Influences

Influences that encourage unhealthy habits will persuade you to feel comfortable in your strongholds. As difficult as it may be, rid yourself of these negative influences and replace them with positive ones.

A wise counselor once said, “You show me your friends; I’ll show you your future.” Until you come to the point of repetitively falling into old habits, you’ll never understand the gravity of this statement. Remember, ultimately, you make the decision.

Becoming Stagnant

After conquering your habit, it’s easy to get too comfortable. This is when we can become stagnant, and our standards can ease into former impulses. Keeping yourself busy will help you eliminate such opportunities to regress into former routines. 

Bad Habits And The Addictive Personality

An addictive personality is a natural tendency deep inside you that desires to perform those unhealthy former habits. Controlling your habits of an unhealthy nature is important because they directly relate to the addictive personality. 

Generally, individuals with this personality type can grow attached or obsessive about anything. While it may seem harmless to get attached to a video game or a person, these actions can easily be transferred to your unhealthy habits like substance use disorder. 

Learning how to recognize addictive traits and actions is a must. Individuals suffering from an addictive personality should seek ongoing therapy as it’s much more difficult for them to stop. Therapists can help addictive personality types identify triggers and work with them to rewire behaviors. 

The Dangers Of Bad Habits In Recovery

Before relapse, it is always an unhealthy habit that first leads to relapse. Allow me to illustrate; An alcoholic’s impulsive habit would be to go to the liquor store and buy a drink. Ultimately, the trip to the store, rather than the act of drinking itself, led to the relapse. 

Keeping old habits at bay will, in turn, prevent the addictive personality from taking over.

How To Overcome Bad Habits In Recovery

Just because some old habits may have arisen to the surface doesn’t mean you’ve relapsed into those routines. It is not too late to stop them as long as you take action now. The guidance below will aid you in how to break any habit or addiction.

Don’t Allow Setbacks to “Set You Back”

Most people make the dire mistake of thinking they have to be perfect. Don’t allow a single setback to discourage you from relapsing. Remember the progress you’ve made. Instead of utilizing your slip as grounds to revert, allow the lesson to motivate you forward. It isn’t the mistake that matters, but how you respond to the mistake.

Don’t Just Stop, Replace

Don’t just simply attempt to abstain from your unhealthy habit, or you’ll spend more time dwelling on it. Instead, replace this habit with something you enjoy doing. Whatever it may be, what you fill this void with can be your greatest asset to breaking any addiction. 

Continue to Seek Help From Counseling

Continued counseling equals continued recovery. Therapy doesn’t(or shouldn’t) stop once you have defeated your unhealthy habits or addictions. Too many individuals make the mistake of canceling their therapy sessions once in recovery. This is the most important time to keep up those sessions. How long it takes you to break a habit or addiction could very easily be determined by the choice of continuing.

Are You Facing An Unhealthy Habit? 

Merely observing these suggestions speaks volumes that you are faced with an imminent crossroads. Letting another moment pass without action is another moment you slip deeper into habits that are detrimental to your progress. By taking the admirable step of seeking out this article, now you’re ready for a true call to action.

Our team of addiction treatment specialists at Granite Mountain Behavioral Health can help you overcome unhealthy habits today! Our intensive outpatient program is geared towards helping individuals identify triggers and working with therapists, all while they continue attending school or work. Learn how to break any addiction. 

Article Reviewed by Gregory Struve

Greg received a Master’s in Counseling from the Adler Graduate School in 2006. He trained at one of the top trauma and anxiety treatment centers in the world until 2008 when he became a faculty member at Grand Canyon University. From 2011 to 2016 he directed a program that leads the field in terms of innovative treatment of anxiety and trauma. During that time he even made several appearances on A&E’s intervention.