Typically, we are harder on others than ourselves when it comes to bad habits. They could be annoyances, like, someone who starts cracking their knuckles right next to you, or a friend of yours who you love very much but who constantly drops the word "like" into, like, every other sentence.
Hey, but you've got one, too! Everyone has at least one bad habit that they can shake. Or can they?
Welcome to Wellcast. This week, we took another viewer's suggestion from Franticow who wrote in asking for video on breaking bad habits. So today, you guessed it. We're gonna examine why it's so darn difficult to give up chowing down on junk food or chowing down on your fingernails.
We've also got a four-step method for overcoming your biggest vice. Are you ready?
First and foremost: how do bad habits even form? Studies by the National Institute of Health point to two main reasons: The first reason is repetition. If you do something often enough, say, you twirl your pencil during class, you brain decides it can stop wasting precious neuron thinking about it. So it checks out and goes on vacation. You could be twirling your pencil through AP English, social studies, algebra and trig without even thinking about it.
The other way bad habits are formed is through positive reinforcement, which sounds like a really good thing, but it can be dangerous. Let's talk about that energy drink that you insist on sucking back when you're up late studying. Gives you a nice boost of energy, and then helps you get through to the end of that mind-numbingly boring paper you're writing on Chaucer.
But the reason why this kind of habit is hard to break is that the nice surge of energy at 11 p.m. is an enjoyable feeling. And enjoyable feelings usually result in your brain releasing dopamine. This is partly why people often crave things that aren't even enjoyable for them anymore. The brain is jonesing for dopamine.
But don't worry, my habitual compadres. Human beings are pretty amazing at changing and adapting. Ladies and gentlemen, we're going to obliterate that bad habit in four easy steps. Pause and print this sheet at watchwellcast.com.
Step one (let's start at the very beginning. It's a very good place to start): Write down the bad habit you're trying to quit. Start simple. Choose just one.
Step two: Learn to avoid your triggers.
Take some time to think of other things that really make you crave doing your bad habit. If biting your nails is your vice, your triggers might be: "That last minute quiz!" "Oh, no! I gotta pay my electric bill" or "How much money do I have in my account for rent?" List these triggers in section two of your worksheet.
Next to these triggers, write a list of ways you can avoid them. For example, read your syllabus every week or make sure that you plan for automatic deductions for your electric bill.
Step three: Substitute your bad habits for not so bad habits.
Basically, you wanna teach your brain by repetition to learn a new habit. So if you tend to bite your nails when you're stressed and alone in your living room, stock your refrigerator with carrots and celery, so that you can reach for something else to chew on when you're stressed out. Write a substitution next to every trigger on section three of your worksheet.
Step four: Gather your army.
You do not have to do this alone. Enlist your friends to help you defeat this bad habit. Start by telling them that you're planning on eliminating this bad habit and you need their help. Just the simple act of letting them in on this battle that you're waging is a step at the right direction.
Remember, your friends can be bodyguards. They'll stand between you and your brain. Tell them to police you. If they see you reaching for those nails to bite, give them the permission to remind you of your mission or even slap your hand. Whatever you want!
Alright, guys. Let's recap. Today you learned four steps for beating your bad habits. You decided which habit you wanted to kick. You figured out your triggers for this bad habit. And you decided on ways to avoid and replace these triggers with healthier alternatives. If all those fail, you learn to enlist your friends in the fight.
Tweet us at WatchWellCast. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or leave a comment down below. We'll see you next time.