We all have bad habits. Some worse than others. Whether it be consistently eating bad foods, smoking, drinking, impulse purchases - whatever. You get the idea. There is a way out. I'm no expert, but I have gotten rid of a few bad habits - and here are the steps I took to do so.
First, I'm no expert in this field. I've overcome a handful of bad habits in my past, some worse than others. But I want to share my experience with you all. For one, it's a bit therapeutic, but I'm also hoping you can find some value in what I have to say.
Lets go all the way back to when I was in 3rd grade. Mrs. Peasly's class at St. Bart's in Wayzata, Minnesota. I was a nervous wreck. I barely knew anyone - though it was my 2nd year there. I was afraid of being wrong. Afraid of getting in trouble. Afraid of getting reprimanded in general. I would go to the nurse every chance I got because I felt "sick". I really did feel sick, too. But the sickness, now, can be attributed to something not psychosomatic.
I've had a food intolerance issue since I was a baby. But, growing up in the 90's, no one knew what a food intolerance was. My parents had no idea that gluten was the root of the problem. Growing up in the era of junk food and processed sugars, gluten was around every corner. In breads, sauces, candies - you name it. It was in many more products then than it is now.
Fast forward to how this plays into bad habits - I needed to self-medicate. A self-medicating third grader. Sort of hilarious when you think about it, but I turned to the only thing that I knew would make me feel better. Altoids. The red tin kind.
I used to sleep with them in my mouth. 3 at a time. How I never chocked and died in my sleep is a miracle. But I would eat these things like it was my job. At one point they came out with a GIANT tin - and I was in heaven. They seemed to work wonders.
Looking back as a 29-year-old, they worked wonders because I was convinced peppermint was good for my stomach. And it was, I guess? I never got sick like I thought I would. I would carry a tin with me everywhere I went. My mom always had them handy in her purse. If I couldn't have a tin somewhere, I'd be sure to have a handful set aside incase I needed some at a moments notice.
Once I moved schools in 6th grade, I began to ween myself off of Altoids. There was less pressure. The kids were nicer. The teachers seemed to care less. I fit in better. It was all good things. I haven't needed Altoids much since then, only for the occasional bad breath. I'll sometimes chomp a couple if I'm nervous about something, but not nearly as many as I would in the past.
What lead me to getting over this bad habit. Well, a lot of thinking, really. Eating shitty food made me feel like I was going to be sick, that feeling being accentuated with the constant angst and nervousness at school. So I latched onto something I believed would cure what ailed me.
When I began at public school, my "addiction" was quickly gone. I finally fit in. I didn't need a crutch to help me feel better. It was only then I realized where the root of my problem was.
1. Realize you have a problem
I was 12 when I realized I had a problem. So I slowly weened myself off of my "addiction" to peppermint candy. I would have them on occasion, at a school dance, before a presentation, etc. Before anything that might make me nervous, but not every day.
I no longer slept with them in my mouth. I didn't need to have one every second of every day. I no longer made sure my mom had them on-hand at all times.
I was finally free.
2. Confront the issue head-on
What is causing this bad habit? Where is the root of the "problem"? Well it was all diet driven. A shitty diet made me feel, well, like shit. Which messed with my brain chemistry and how I felt mentally and physically on a daily basis. I was young when I realized this which was good and bad.
Good in that I had an idea what was going on. Bad, well, because my parents didn't believe me. A 12-year-old doesn't have much pull when it comes to what we're have for dinner. That said, I tried to manipulate my diet however I could. With some successes here and there, but I didn't really dial it in until I was off on my own at college.
So how did I approach a total change? I created some new habits
3. Develop a new habit
I changed my diet. Not only did that lead me to feeling better, but lead me to not needing my crutch at all. A new diet got rid of feeling like garbage and ultimately lead me to feeling better in general.
Admittedly, I got sort of OCD when it came to my new diet approach. Learning about and researching how I was feeling became my new habit. But I was - and am - in a much better place than I've ever been health/nerves/anxiousness-wise.
4. Track your progress
There will be a million ways to do this, obviously. Tracking progress is very case-by-case. How do I track mine? Well, based on how I feel. If I feel like shit - I don't revert back to a handful of altoids. I remember what I ate and try to retrace my steps, diet-wise.
Was it a sandwich? Maybe it was the bread? A glass of soymilk? You better believe that stuff is heartburn in a carton for me. It wasn't until I told myself I had a "diet problem" that I was able to take a step back and review everything that I was putting in my body. Only by doing that am I able to track my progress.
Tell Me More!
How have you gotten over your bad habits? Tell me in the comments below!