Habits: What are they and How can you Change them?

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Do you have a habit that is bringing you down? If you’re nodding your head as you read this, fantastic, you’re in the right place. More than likely a habit is a learned behaviour and therefore can be changed.

What is a habit?

A habit –

·         Something that you do often or regularly – Collins Dictionary

·         A behaviour pattern acquired by frequent repetition or physiologic exposure that shows itself in regularity or increased facility of performance -  Merriam-Webster

·         A particular act or way of acting that you tend to do regularly – Cambridge Dictionary


No matter how we define a habit it remains the same. It is a regular or settled practice that is hard to give up. It is an action you take that is clearly defined based on a certain cue or reward. This could be waking up and putting the kettle on for a coffee or biting your nails. It is typically an unconscious process that you are unaware you are doing.


How do Habits Work?

Habits work in a pattern of cue/trigger, routine and reward.

The cue or the trigger is something that initiates the behaviour or routine. These can include location, time of day, belief, emotional state, other people or a thought.

These cues trigger the routine that follows. This can be setting an alarm for the morning or an ad break on Tv when watching a show.

This leads into the reward which can lead to either a positive feeling or a negative feeling. You can feel great when waking up early, more prepared for the day or you can binge eat on snack foods late at night between ad breaks on TV.


How to Change or Break a Habit?

  • First identify the habit you would like to change

  • Find out what the cue or trigger is for this habit

  • Work out what the routine is that follows the cue

  • Identify the reward you are getting from this routine and if it is positive or negative


Once you have worked all this out, start by slowly removing the cue/trigger from your day or be more conscious of our surroundings. We can be out into situations where the triggers for the habits are in our face, such as standing in line at the checkout. They are hard to avoid in every day life, but once you have the awareness that this is a trigger you can work on recognising and consciously deciding not to do the routine that follows.


While the easiest way to change or break a habit is to simply remove the cue, sometimes we can’t do that. It is physically impossible. But what we can do is change the routine that follows. Say you are feeling thirsty. Thirst is a natural response in the body, one we can’t change and is a cue/trigger to many habits. Instead of drinking soft drink as the routine you can change it to drinking water. The reward from the change in the routine has a more positive impact on your body


Most people believe it can take 21 days to create a new habit. This is true for some people; however, every person is different, and every habit is different. Some people can take less time and some people can take over three months to create the new habit.


And just remember:

 Old ways won’t open new doors - Unknown


If you a ready to change some habits in your life but are unsure where to start feel free to book an appointment today.