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How to change a bad habit

By Jo Cordell-Cooper*

 

IN my work as a health and mindset coach, I am regularly helping people with habits that they wish to either eliminate or create.

A habit, in its simplest form, is something that you do as a matter of routine that would feel quite odd not doing.

Cleaning your teeth is an age-old routine, but probably the habit that most of my clients wish to eliminate is overeating.

Let’s take the example of eating chocolate.

Without investigating all the habits and thoughts around purchasing the chocolate, let’s keep this example simple.

You are sitting on the couch after dinner eating chocolate.

You are not hungry.

You are not even thinking about the chocolate going into your mouth, and you often eat a whole family-sized chocolate.

When you decide that you no longer want to do this, but find it hard to stop, it’s a habit.

It would feel like something is missing if you did not do it.

What is also interesting is that one night a week you don’t sit on the couch – you garden, or socialise, or walk your dog and then take a shower and clean your teeth, and you don’t even think about chocolate.

This is an example of a cue-specific habit.

The cue is the sitting on the couch. So, what might we do about this?

When we have a cue-specific habit, we need to work on strengthening the cues that do not result in eating chocolate.

The brain won’t necessarily make this easy for you – the brain likes routine – but there is reason for optimism because when not sitting on the couch, you aren’t thinking about chocolate.

So:

Sit on the couch less;

Find a new hobby (or something) that keeps you busy at this time;

Brush your teeth earlier (I haven’t met a person yet that continues eating after brushing their teeth);

Set up some rules like ‘the kitchen shuts at 7pm’, or;

Switch out the habit of eating chocolate with a more desirable healthy habit of drinking herbal tea.

 

New habits take a little while to form and I’ve heard it takes anywhere between 21 and 66 days to be truly automatic.

There is no magic number of days though, so just keep trying new things until the right habit forms that meets your needs.

Good luck and if this article resonates with you, make contact.

For further mindset tips, head to my free Facebook group Holistic Personal Training or make contact at jocc.com.au.

 

*Jo Cordell-Cooper is the award-winning business owner of Jo CC Holistic PT.