Habits and how to break them

Preslee Scott

More stories from Preslee Scott


I’m sure all of us can agree that everyone has at least one habit they would like to break. It could be anything from bad eating habits to something as small as biting your nails.

There are 5 scientifically proved ways to break a habit. They are lowering your stress levels, knowing your cues, replacing the habit, having a good reason for quitting, and setting better goals to rid of these habits.

Ella Murphy says, “I am most likely to start biting my nails when I am stressed out or nervous.” This is why when trying to break a habit it is best to lower your stress levels. You are more likely to do something you don’t want to do when you are stressed or nervous. Stuff like meditation is a great way to lower stress.

Knowing what triggers your habits is a good way to break the habit because then you can avoid those triggers. Sometimes it is called the “cue” and it is what makes you want to start the habit. These cues vary widely but common triggers can be anger, anxiety, and loneliness.

Replacing your habit with a healthier one makes losing the bad habit easier. Murphy says, “The best way to keep me from biting my nails is getting them done.” She is replacing this habit with something better. Most of our minds run on a routine and to stop that routine in one day would be nearly impossible. Instead of stopping it completely you are replacing it with something that is better for you.

To even be able to replace this habit at all you need to tell yourself a good reason for doing so. Even if you replace the habit, your mind won’t get that same feeling as if you were to be doing the old bad habit. Telling yourself why you should be starting this new good habit will help you transition better.

Setting good and specific goals helps in getting in the right mindset to get rid of this habit. The biggest battle in starting a stopping a habit is in the mind. Telling yourself time and time again what you are going to do to quit is the best way to get it drilled into your brain. Murphy says one of her goals is to keep her nails done all the time so that if prevents her from going back to her old biting nails habit.”

Habits are a part of all of us. Breaking a habit can take anywhere from 18 to 254 days. You cannot expect it to happen in a day. It will take time. Do not get discouraged and keep working towards your end goal.