From Ash Wednesday (February 10th) to Good Friday (March 25th), many
people people will be giving up their favourite vices, such as unhealthy foods,
smoking or alcohol – as either part of the run up to Easter, or just as a
good opportunity to rid themselves of a bad habit.
A recent national survey from YouGov for Homepride revealed the things that most people give up for Lent. Unsurprisingly, the top three culprits are:
- Chocolate – 10%
- Sweets – 6%
- Alcohol – 5%
It takes around 21 days to break a habit (only half of the 40 days
of Lent!), so whether you’re giving something up for Lent or trying to make a positive change for your health, read through these helpful hints on how to break a bad habit today:
Understand what triggers your craving
There are 5 cues to help you identify what triggers your bad habit
- Emotional state
- Other people
- An immediately preceding action
Once you have linked your bad habit to one of these cues, you can find alternative ways to give into your craving. For example, if being sad triggers you to reach for the biscuit tin, try going for a walk or talking to a friend instead. If you always smoke after your morning coffee, try swapping it with a healthier habit, like a one-minute meditation.
Put it in writing
Writing your resolution down will help your resolve – write it in your diary, stick it on your mirror, or anywhere that you spend a good amount of time. In addition, set reminders on your phone or calendar to keep you motivated, especially during times where you’re likely to waver, like the weekend.
Change your environment
You’ll find it much easier breaking a habit if there aren’t any temptations lurking around; that means throwing out the chocolate/wine/cigarettes that you’re giving up. Also avoid social situations where they might become a temptation.
Create a money jar
An effective way implement new behaviour is to fine yourself everytime you slip up, exactly like a ‘swear jar’. Not only does this make you more conscious of your decisions, but it’s a great way to save up for a well-deserved treat.
Mindfulness isn’t just great for lowering stress, but it can be used to curb your bad habits. By slowing down your actions and truly immersing yourself in each experience, you can break down your addiction. Try our tips on meditation.
Most importantly, don’t punish yourself! We’re all human, and the odd slip up doesn’t mean that you’ve failed. Old habits die hard, so be kind to yourself – it’s much easier to break a habit with positive reinforcement (‘I’m doing well’) rather than negative (‘You shouldn’t have eaten that’).