- Can you really break bad habits? Can people change? As impossible as it may seem, it can be done.
- It takes intention, a lot of effort, and behavior modification.
- That is why it is useful to understand what happens in the brain when we form or break a bad habit.
can you really break bad habits? Can people change? As impossible as it may seem, it can be done. It takes intention, a lot of effort and modifying behavior, so it helps to understand what happens in the brain when we form or throw a habit.
6 tips to break the bad habits successfully
According to the doctor Stephanie Collierinstructor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, the habitsWhether they are positive or negative, they are routines and as such, we do them on autopilot because they make our lives easier. To do it, the brain does not have to think much.
The doctor Luana Marquesa Harvard psychology professor, explains that when you try to to break an bad habit, a dissonance is created that is annoying to the brain. So what happens is that the brain’s limbic system activates the fight, flight, or freeze response, and the reaction is to stay safe, avoid the threat, and revert to the old behavior.
Why is it so hard to kick a bad habit?
Anything that helps us survive as a species makes the brain release dopamine, so if smoking helps you get through a stressful moment and makes you feel good, the brain will avoid change as a way of survival.
“We get a reward (albeit temporary), so we keep investing every time. That’s why it’s so difficult,” explains Collier.
What you should do to break a bad habit
- Before trying to kick a bad habit, the first thing you should do is figure out why you want to change. The more personal the reason, the more motivation you will have to make the change and not give up.
- Then you must find the origin of your bad habit. That is, you have to discover what are the factors that trigger it. When the bad habit appears, ask yourself when, where and with whom it happens, and how you feel, whether it’s sad, lonely, depressed or nervous.
- The next part is to modify your behavior. If your weakness is a donut on the way to work, the solution could be to change your route or substitute it with a healthier food.
- You also have to avoid the “all or nothing” mentality, which leads to rapid burnout. You have to start small. If your goal is to go to sleep at 10 but you normally go to bed at 12, start sleeping at 11:45, then 11:30 and so on.
- It also helps to remember that impulses follow a cycle. They’re intense at first, then taper off, usually going away in about 20 minutes, Collier explains.
- If you relapse, don’t be so hard on yourself. Failures are part of the change process.
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