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Humans are creatures of habit. And if you’ve ever tried to break a bad habit you’ve had, you know it’s not an easy task. Habits are behaviors that have been repeated so often that they become almost like second nature. We no longer have to think about doing them. This is great, if the behavior is a desirable one, such as eating healthy regularly. But, when the behavior is one perceived as negative, that habit should be changed in order to achieve a positive outcome. Easier said than done, because habits are so ingrained in us, they actually affect your brain.

Habits are formed when a certain cue or trigger occurs, which in turn, enacts a behavior and then the brain receives a reward. And this happens so repeatedly, that the person no longer has to think about the behavior, it seems to occur automatically. Habits are hard to break, because to do so, you’ll need to retrain your brain. Retraining your brain is difficult, but it definitely can be done, it just takes some time.

Some actions you can take to get started on breaking a bad habit are: Changing your environment- If you’re able to change your surroundings, even slightly, you will reduce the amount of triggers you experience. You can do that by taking a different route to work, going on a mini-vacation or changing up your everyday routine. This will disrupt the habit that your brain is used to.

With less triggers, less reaction to the trigger and less reward to the brain from the behavior. Reward yourself for good behaviors- As I said before, your brain is rewarded after a trigger induces a behavior. So, when you successfully avoid the behavior you want to break, reward yourself instead.

Eventually, the brain will be retrained away from the habit you desire to break. Get support- Surround yourself with like-minded people. If you are constantly with people who have the same bad habit as the one you want to break, it’s most definitely going to be harder to quit.

Even reaching out to a family member or friend by phone or text will help get your mind off of your habit and help remind you of your goals. Be realistic- Don’t set yourself up for failure by expecting too much change, all at once.

Start small and work up to your desired goal. Know that breaking a habit takes time, don’t expect instant change. If you hope to break a bad habit and are serious about getting results, follow these steps. You will be on your way to positive


Burnout recovery specialist, intuitive, and physician Dr. Veronica Anderson teaches high-performing professional women how to make successful career, health, and life transformations by overcoming challenges and developing resilience. She is the author of three bestselling books and splits her time between Bucks County, Pennsylvania, and Harlem, New York City, with her husband and two dogs, Artemis and Apollo.