Getting Back Control From Your Habits

Tuesday, August 3, 2021


Many people have habits of one kind of another. These can be mental ticks or actions that we perform even unconsciously. While it’s a healthy aim to be in control of your own behavior all the time, many of these habitual behaviors are relatively benign or even healthy. However, if you are looking at a habit in your life that either causes real harm or the potential of bad health in the long term, it might be time to learn about what you can do to get back in control.

Here, we’re going to look more closely at the habits we carry with us in life, what impacts they can have on us, and what we can do to take control back.

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Knowing the risks

First of all, we need to be honest. Don’t be coy about what your habits are. If you’re smoking, then take a full look at the risks of smoking in the long term. If you’re drinking, using drugs, or self-harming, then you need to become fully aware of both how they are impacting you in the short term as well as how they can affect your life in the long term. Being honest with oneself is essential for any form of mental health improvement, and sometimes this means looking at scary realities and potential paths to avoid.

Understanding how they work

It’s not always easy or even seem possible to pinpoint exactly how our habits work, but many of us are able to identify some of the mechanisms behind them. When it comes to things that are biologically addictive, such as cigarettes, the mechanisms are related to our bodies. However, both things are biologically addictive and otherwise may have emotional triggers related to them. Understanding what our triggers are can help us build strategies around them: we can avoid those triggers (such as avoiding bars and nightclubs if dealing with alcohol dependency) or reduce our emotional response to those triggers so that we can resist our habitual urges.

Becoming mindful

How do people resist their habitual urges? Simply learning about your triggers is not enough. However, some people can learn to study and recognize their own emotional reactions, to anticipate those reactions, and then be able to regulate their own emotions accordingly to avoid that reaction pre-emptively. This is what mindfulness is all about, primarily. Practicing mindfulness meditation is not the only strategy you should take to address any harmful habits that you practice, of course, but it can be a very useful technique to go with any of the other paths you take.

Getting help for them

If you are serious about breaking the habits that have taken up too much of your life and you are aware of the risks that they pose to you in the long term, then you shouldn’t try to go it alone. Your loved ones can play an important role, but the first priority should be seeking professional health. This is especially true of any substance abuse conditions that may require treatment programs like inpatient drug rehab. Talk to the professionals first and foremost, then build the other recovery techniques you learn around them.

Building healthier habits

Though not an effective strategy by itself, there is no denying that simply distracting yourself from habits with better and healthier habits can be helpful. Create a daily routine that involves healthy practices such as exercise and meditation that you do on a regular basis. Aside from taking up the time that might otherwise go to your bad habits and distracting you from them, they can help fight the stress that habits are often a response to.

Involving your loved ones

As mentioned, getting professional health is often the best first step to take. However, that doesn’t mean that your loved ones can’t help at all. For instance, you can talk to them about behaviors they take that might be enabling without them knowing it. You can also ask them to help you stay accountable and check up on you. Otherwise, they can play big roles in helping you make lifestyle changes. For instance, if you’re trying to work out more, then they can join you at the gym to help you stay motivated and committed. They can’t do the work for you, but they can help if they’re willing and able.

If a habit is truly taking control of your life, then it may be time to look for professional help, first and foremost. Hopefully, the tips above help you on the road to getting your hands back on the steering wheel.

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