Eating all things in your line of sight because you just quit smoking? Drinking more coffee to try and slow down your overeating? Biting off people’s heads in the morning because you’ve quit drinking coffee? When kicking bad habits, sometimes we “bite off more than we can chew.” Whether you are trying to quit smoking, drinking, gambling or trying to eat better, kicking bad habits is a difficult and emotional process.
“New Year’s Resolutions are a great motivator to shed unwanted weight, quit smoking or start spending more time with your family….But often, we see people take the ‘cold turkey’ approach to kicking a bad habit, which is not the most effective or healthy way of changing unwanted behaviors. In fact, this can often lead to new unwanted behaviors that take the place of the old ones.” says Dr. Jeffrey Wilkins, Director of Addiction Medicine in the Thalians Department of Psychiatry at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.
Defining goals and setting realistic timelines for kicking habits is the key to changing unwanted behaviors like smoking, overeating and caffeine addiction. While cigarette smoking is a habit that many people prefer to stop “cold turkey,” for many other habits this approach can be a set-up for failure because our mind and body are not programmed to adjust so quickly to abrupt changes.
Consistent with the results of scientific studies, Dr. Wilkins recommends the following tips to help identify, plan and eventually kick bad habits for a healthier, happier New Year:
- Define your goals and then commit yourself to achieving them. People who acknowledge that they need to make a change in their life are more likely to achieve that change than those individuals who think that they may, or may not, have a problem. Taking active steps towards making that change (i.e., joining a self-help group) will move you closer to success in kicking the habit. Change is not easy and requires commitment. As a start, by defining your specific behavior goals, you can begin tailoring your activities and attitudes accordingly.
Read more at onhealth.com