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3 Ways to Banish a Bad Habit

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3 Ways to Banish a Bad Habit

By Anne-Marie Botek, AgingCare.com Editor

Bad habits happen—even to good people.

Whether it’s biting your nails, or putting off a big project, everyone has those little routines that aren’t so healthy or helpful.

What makes a particular pattern of behavior “bad?”

Lori Campbell, gerontologist and author of “Awaken Your Age Potential,” says that a habit should be considered bad if it’s harmful to you or other people. This simple-sounding definition encompasses a wide variety of behaviors—from unhealthy eating, to compulsive shopping.

The birth of a bad habit

Habits themselves are neutral, subconscious patterns of behavior that people learn by repeating an action. Once they are formed, these patterns act as neural short-cuts, helping the brain save energy for more complex tasks. With habits you don’t think—you just do.

But, because a person isn’t thinking about the potential consequences of their actions, this lack of attention can quickly lead to the formation of bad habits. “Most people go through life letting things ‘just happen’ to them,” Campbell says, “They make reactive responses quickly and without much thought.”

These reactive responses occur more frequently when a person is confronted by stress. Sheila Foreman, J.D., Ph.D., a clinical psychologist says that most harmful habits spring from maladaptive coping techniques to difficult situations.

Reaching into the freezer for a tub of Chunky Money as soon as you come home from work is the perfect example of such a technique. Digging your spoon into that sugary, icy vice is a quick, yet ineffective way to give your stressed-out brain the infusion of feel-good hormones it’s craving after a long day at the office.

Don’t break it, replace it

Bad habits are often formed as a result of subliminal pleasure-seeking. This makes attention and awareness the most potent enemies of unhealthy routines, and two valuable tools that can be used to rid yourself of harmful patterns of behavior.

Read More:
10 Ways to Stop Procrastinating
7 Ways to Tackle Stress Eating
How to Stop Being So Hard On Yourself

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367 comments

+ add your own
6:49AM PDT on May 1, 2013

thanks.

8:37AM PST on Feb 12, 2013

Thanks

11:55PM PDT on Sep 7, 2012

Thank-you for the interesting article.

10:19AM PDT on Sep 7, 2012

Useful tips.

9:52AM PDT on Sep 7, 2012

Thank you.

3:13AM PDT on Sep 4, 2012

Thanks for the encouraging article. It is essential to be aware of your actions which are so easily done mindlessly.
I know what I'm going to try - it will be breathing deeply, even stretching or doing a few stretching exercises. That is a good habit to adopt. It not only clears the mind but is also relaxing......
Good luck everyone !

8:06AM PDT on Aug 31, 2012

The bad habit I want to break is surfing the net when I should be studying hard instead. I'm definitely trying to use your advice.

2:16AM PDT on Aug 28, 2012

This will help with my nail biting problem. I do it every time I am concentrated really hard on something. I've been doing it since i was a little kid, so it won't be easy... well, wish me luck!

5:33PM PDT on Aug 27, 2012

Great tips...

10:56PM PDT on Aug 26, 2012

Great tips for breaking bad habits and replacing them with healthy and good habits! Thanks.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

people are talking

That was not an apology. That was "Yes I ate the damn tissue, now shut up about it already."

Thanks--love oils+use daily.

Another fruit that can aggravate big toe pain is watermelon. Drop one on your toe and... ouch!!!

May give a couple of these a try - esp. slicing cheese.

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