Bad habits come in all shapes and sizes. They pop up in every area of our life. Some bad habits are worse than others but anytime you can stop doing something you’re not proud of is a great thing. Many studies show the vast benefits of giving up habits like smoking and drinking, but even less harmful habits such as nail biting or gum smacking can help make big positive changes in your life. The act of stopping a bad habit can be scary. Especially if it is something you have done for a long time or are addicted to. Fortunately, there are some simple hacks you can use that will have you well on your way to habit-free living in 30 days.

Be Aware of your Bad Habits 

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The only way to stop a habit is if you are fully aware of it. Become hyper-aware of the habit to learn how to best combat it. Take note of what it is you’re doing, when you’re doing it, and why you’re doing it. Pay special attention to the feelings you are having before, during and after you begin your bad habit action. What triggered the need? How do you feel when you do it? Do you feel better afterward? Is it comforting? Is it distracting?

Knowing everything about your bad habit is the first step in tackling it for destruction. Psychologists tell us that if we are aware in each moment of the bad behavior, it begins to sink in just how bad it is. Smoke a cigarette and be aware of every sensation. All the smells and chemical tastes. Focus completely on the act of smoking and it becomes distasteful. Eventually the mind associates smoking with all the bad feeling that you focus on.

Make Yourself Accountable

Once you really want to stop cracking your knuckles or smacking your lips, make yourself accountable for it. That could mean writing it down where you see it every day. It could mean telling your loved ones. Make your intentions known. Journal everything you notice about your bad habits for at least a week. Once it has been several days, you can take a look at the data you’ve collected and analyze for triggers and emotional connections. Seeing this tangible tracking of progress and pitfalls is invaluable. You have insight you otherwise wouldn’t.

Reprogram Your Brain

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Reprogramming your brain sounds hard. It is and it isn’t. You obtained a bad habit in the first place by completing an action every time you felt a certain way or experienced a specific trigger. Your brain has learned this behavior. To reverse the effects, you must replace the bad habit with a better one. You already know when, why, and how you engage in your habit. Now it is time to replace it with something better and train your brain to do it every time without thought. Replace a cigarette with a beef stick. Instead of cracking your knuckles, tap your toes a few times or brush your fingers through your hair.

Breaking a bad habit isn’t going to be easy, but the steps are simple. Repeating the good behavior in the same way you did the bad will instill a different and healthier habit to contend with. Bad habits can affect all parts of our life. Bad habits don’t have to be smoking, drinking, and party drugs to be harmful. Even mundane habits such as knuckle cracking can lead to long term pain and discomfort. From getting a restful sleep, to back pain, and headaches. Bad habits cause more damage than we are aware of. The faster you can change your life and kick the habits, the better you are going to feel.