The Behavioral Basis of Why It’s Hard to Quit Bad Habits

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A habit is a regular tendency or practice that is hard to give up. Habits are a collection of thoughts and activities that you repeat time and time. You may enact a habit consciously, like taking a walk every day, but some habits automatically express themselves unconsciously, like unconsciously overeating.

It will take you 18 to 254 days to form a habit. Additionally, it takes 66 days for that habit to become automatic. According to a study on the psychology of developing habits, your brain prefers patterns because they are efficient. When you form a habit, you automate some everyday actions, which frees up some mental resources to perform other tasks. Habits are difficult to break. 

Pleasure-based habits stimulate your brain to release dopamine hormone, strengthening the habit and creating the craving to do it again. Here are more reasons why you are likely not to stop that habit.

Habits Become Automatic

Experts say that repetitive behavioral patterns are often etched into your neural pathway. When your habit becomes automatic, your new behaviors are enacted with minimal conscious awareness and become a regular part of life. 

Habits can be helpful. For instance, waking up every morning to take a shower, comb your hair, or brush your teeth is a good start for the day. You’ll realize that in most cases, you drive on familiar roads in a mental auto-pilot mode without being keen on the directions.

When a habit becomes automatic, it’s a great advantage to your brain as it will now focus on other things. How habits become automatic depends on the habit in question. For instance, certain habits may take longer to form than others. It is easier to adopt the habit of taking a glass of water during breakfast than doing 50 sit-ups after morning tea. In addition, some people are better suited for forming habits than others. Therefore, it is okay if you find it hard to develop a consistent routine.

Feeling Good

Habits also arise from doing good and enjoyable things that trigger your brain’s reward centers. Pleasure-based habits can potentially set you up for harmful routines such as smoking, overeating, and drug and alcohol abuse. 

You might also find yourself going to work without really thinking about the details. Enjoyable habits are hard to break as they trigger your brain to release dopamine hormone, which keeps you craving more pleasurable routines. You may find yourself yearning for drugs, even when the drug no longer makes you feel good once you take it.

It’s hard to change a habit, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not possible. The first step to changing habits is becoming aware of those habits to develop suitable strategies to help you change the behaviors. Identify people, places, or activities that trigger you into certain habits and adjust accordingly. For instance, if you have a substance use habit, you can deliberately abstain from using the substance by avoiding situations around the substance or drug.

Resisting a Temptation

It’s human nature to face temptation and give in to temptation. However, falling for temptations too many times can make an unhealthy temptation become a habit. The key to breaking bad habits and resisting temptation is not letting your body and brain do things because you think they are enjoyable. Bad habits can prevent you from achieving what you truly desire. Therefore, overcoming these habits could lead to more sleep, better health, and success.

Resisting bad habits is a muscle you can strengthen with time. It may sound awkward, especially when confronted with temptations from time to time. Still, whenever you say no to smoking a cigarette, to a cookie, or avoiding something you don’t want to do, you get closer to overcoming the temptation. That habit that you think has become part of your nature can hinder finding a path to success, so think long-term and seek professional help from drug rehab centers in Coral Springs.

Strategies for Resisting Bad Habits

Applying the strategy of delay can help you avoid saying something you’ll regret later. Give yourself an allowance of 5-10 minutes before giving in to a craving, and the feeling may go away. If possible, avoid things, places, and situations that could cause you to act in a way you’ll regret later. 

Escape from conditions that can put you in contact with temptation. Lastly, distract yourself when you know you will be tempted to give into a habit and substitute what you try to resist with different behavior.

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