Bad habits are hard to break. They’re ingrained in our daily routine. Every day we wake up, perform our morning routine and go to work. Habits like brushing our teeth, having a cup of coffee, or taking a shower aren’t things we think about. Unfortunately, harmful habits are also automatic behaviors that are hard to change.
The Benefits of a Healthy Routine
Our daily habits free our minds to focus on other things. For example, we don’t have to focus on brushing our teeth because we know how to perform the necessary steps. Therefore, while brushing our teeth or performing other automatic habits, we can let our minds wander. Sometimes we pay attention to what is going on in our environment. Other times, we’re thinking about work, school, or life in general. As we focus on these issues, we can find solutions, new ideas, or put to rest unhealthy feelings. Another benefit of letting our mind wander is that it’s an excellent time for our brain to rest.
The act of doing nothing is beneficial to our mental health. We all need a reprieve from the constant stream of information. Because technology keeps us plugged in 24/7, taking time to unplug and be in the moment helps us reconnect with our mind, body, and spirit. Find a few minutes every day to let go and release unhealthy thoughts and feelings. Once you introduce habits that target your need to heal your inner being, you can remove bad habits.
Causes of Bad Habits
Before we continue, we can rethink how we define “bad.” Bad, in this case, doesn’t mean you’re lacking in character or moral strength. Instead, a bad habit is an unhealthy part of your routine.
We fall into or adapt habits without thinking about what we’re doing. Unhealthy coping techniques can, in the beginning, protect us from what we perceive as harm. For example, if a person is afraid of socializing, they may use alcohol or drugs to build their courage. However, over time, using a substance can harm their relationships, as well as their physical and mental health.
An essential step to replacing bad habits with good habits is to talk with a therapist or a support group. The decision to seek peer support or therapy can guide us on our way to meeting a goal. While engaging in treatment, we can identify the underlying causes of a substance use disorder (SUD). Underlying causes like mental health disorders can act as catalysts for alcohol or drug addiction because we may start to use a substance to numb an emotion – or perhaps we think we become a funnier, more social person when we drink or use a drug.
Recognizing Bad Habits
Everyone has at least one bad habit. Whether it’s procrastination, poor eating habits, or substance addiction, there’s something we would like to change about ourselves. The challenge is to admit to ourselves we have an unhealthy habit.
A positive way to discover what you want to change is to do a mental inventory at least once a year. The point of a mental inventory is to look at our habits and behaviors. The first step to assessing our daily conduct is to write down the good and bad routines we have. Once we finish, we should pay attention to the “bad habits” list. If we’re brutally honest with ourselves, we will have all our flaws listed. Stop and take another look at the list – we can mistakenly list weaknesses as bad habits. The difference is that a weakness is something we’re not strong at doing but can work on or focus on our strengths, whereas a bad habit is something we do without thinking.
How to Change a Habit
Once we decide to change and make our list of bad habits, we can take another moment to think about why we engage in these acts mindfully.
The challenge to changing from an unhealthy habit to a healthy routine is relearning how we behave. As we begin to change, we can discuss what prompts our behaviors with our therapist. Also, we can use the support of an alumni group to keep us on track and aligned with our values.
Certain habits, like substance use, are ritualistic habits, even compulsive. For instance, if we disagree with someone, we might use a substance to help us calm down or rationalize our response. Because rituals become instinctual, we don’t think about what we’re doing, which makes breaking unhealthy habits difficult. However, some people can replace unhealthy ritualistic behaviors with other practices. Healthy habits that stimulate the reward center of our brain can help.
Another challenge to our goal of replacing a bad habit with a healthy routine is our brain. Our original habit is ingrained, so changing it will take time and patience. As we learn a new practice, we need to understand our new routine doesn’t immediately replace the old one. All hope is not lost; the repetition of a new habit can eventually suppress the first learned behavior.
Our habits became automatic routines when repeatedly performed. When we decide to replace harmful practices with healthy habits, we can seek help from a therapist or an alumni group like Renaissance Ranch Treatment Centers’ Band of Brothers. Fellow members understand what you may be going through and can support your goal of living a healthy life. The Band of Brothers provides the emotional, social, and (at times) professional help needed to maintain sobriety. Renaissance Ranch Treatment Centers’ dedication shows how we treat a person with respect and compassion. We don’t leave you once you finish treatment. Challenges in unhealthy environments are why you can come back to us to maintain or regain your sobriety. We welcome your inquiries about our faith-based substance, family, or alumni programs. In faith, you can find hope. Contact us today to see how we can help you live the life you deserve. Call (801) 308-8898.