Mental Health

Breaking bad behaviours to build better habits

In the hustle and bustle of daily life, change often feels like an elusive dream.

Whether it’s kicking the afternoon sugar fix, finally committing to that morning jog, or putting down the smartphone before bedtime, breaking old habits and embracing new ones can seem daunting.

Perhaps you want to read more, finally write that novel, or embark on a new entrepreneurial venture.

Whatever your aspiration, the path to transformation begins with the simple yet profound act of breaking old habits and cultivating new ones.

But with the right approach, change is not only possible but achievable.

Here are some practical steps to guide you along the path of transformation:

1. Spot the trigger

Picture this: Every time stress hits at work, you find yourself reaching for that tempting chocolate bar.

Identifying the trigger—the stress—is the first step towards reclaiming control over your habits.

2. Find your why

Imagine waking up each morning with a newfound sense of purpose, driven by the desire to lead a healthier lifestyle for the sake of your loved ones.

Clarifying your why infuses your journey with meaning and determination.

3. Buddy up

Envision having a workout buddy cheering you on during those early morning runs or a quitting smoking support group to lean on when cravings strike.

Seeking support from friends or family adds an element of accountability and camaraderie to your journey.

4. Stay present

Picture yourself savouring each bite of your meal mindfully, fully present in the moment.

Practising mindfulness not only heightens your awareness of your habits but also cultivates a deeper connection with yourself.

5. Swap and remind

Imagine replacing your evening TV binge with a refreshing evening walk, with a friendly reminder from your phone nudging you towards your new routine.

Substituting old habits with healthier alternatives and surrounding yourself with reminders keeps you on track.

6. Embrace imperfection

Picture stumbling on your journey to quit smoking, but instead of berating yourself, you choose to view it as a learning opportunity.

Embracing imperfection fosters resilience and self-compassion, paving the way for sustainable change.

7. Start small

Imagine breaking down your goal of reading more books into a manageable target of one chapter a day.

Starting small allows you to build momentum gradually, setting yourself up for success.

8. Craft your environment

Envision transforming your cluttered workspace into a serene sanctuary conducive to focus and productivity.

Your environment plays a pivotal role in shaping your habits, so curate it to support your aspirations.

9. Visualise success

Picture yourself effortlessly resisting the urge to check your phone during dinner with loved ones, basking in the joy of uninterrupted quality time.

Visualisation primes your mind for success, making your goals feel more attainable.

10. Prioritise self-care

Imagine carving out time each day for a rejuvenating yoga session or indulging in your favourite hobby.

Prioritising self-care replenishes your energy and fortifies you against the challenges of habit change.

11. Celebrate progress

Picture yourself treating yourself to a movie night after successfully completing a week without succumbing to late-night snacking.

Celebrating milestones along the way reinforces positive behaviours and fuels your motivation.

12. Patience is key

Envision yourself embarking on a journey, knowing that every step forward brings you closer to your destination.

Patience is the cornerstone of lasting change, so trust in the process and celebrate each small victory along the way.

Contrary to popular belief, breaking old habits and forming new ones is not a matter of sheer willpower or a fixed timeline.

Rather, it’s about embracing a strategic, systematic approach tailored to your unique journey.

Acumen Health Team Manager, Greg Frost, shares some of his tips for making little changes that can have a big impact on our health and wellbeing, in this video.

One of the ways Greg suggests we can all develop new and healthier habits is to recognise and celebrate our efforts when we act on them.

“It might seem something really small like a 10-minute walk, but if it’s something you’ve added to your life you weren’t doing previously, it’s a really healthy habit, so celebrate that,” he said.

As James Clear advocates in his enlightening book, Atomic habits: An easy and proven way to build good habits and break bad ones, transformation is not reserved for the select few – it’s accessible to anyone willing to embark on the journey.

So, if you’ve ever doubted your ability to change, let go of those limiting beliefs.

With dedication, perseverance, and the right tools at your disposal, you have the power to rewrite your story – one habit at a time.

Remember, the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Are you ready to take yours?


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