New Year, New Me: Tips for Changing Bad Habits into Good Ones

By Kevin Allen, Jr.

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2019 is here and it's time for a fresh start!  Each and every year people around the world make their New Year's resolutions, attempting to get a fresh start to the year that is ahead of them.  Regardless of what the resolution may be, many people (including myself) have a hard time following through with what they planned to change.  It can be tough breaking the old, bad habits that we have established over time, but luckily there are some tips and tricks that can help individuals stick with their initial resolutions throughout the year. 

According to the American Psychological Association (APA), when it comes to making the initial resolution it is important that we start small with goals, focus on changing one behavior at a time, not to beat yourself up if you lose track, and ask for help when you need it.  Once you establish a resolution that is reasonable, in comes the hard part of keeping your word and sticking to that resolution for more than a few days or weeks.  It is a great idea to evaluate your behaviors and understand what things you can change in order to live a better, healthier, happier life, but no one ever said that this would be an easy task.

So you might be asking yourself “Where do I start with sticking to my resolution?”  These next few tips won’t guarantee a successful New Year’s resolution, but they can help pave the pathway to changing those bad habits into good ones.  First comes first, identify what might trigger your bad habit.  If your resolution involves avoiding fast food, your trigger might be the sight of the McDonald’s golden arches when you are on your way home, if it is consuming less alcohol, maybe the trigger is seeing alcohol within your house.  Once you find out what your trigger could be, it is important that you try your best to stop the trigger from happening.  If seeing McDonald’s arches on your way home has you craving a Big Mac, chose a different route when driving home.

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If seeing alcohol in your home has you preoccupied with fixing a drink, try storing it somewhere that it is less visible in order to lessen the temptation.  When the trigger is unavoidable, you can try to replace the negative behavior that the trigger causes with a more positive on. When the thought of fast food or alcohol enters your head, try to associate it with something else, like healthier foods or drinks.  Of course this is easier said than done, but that is why the last thing you must do is be as persistent as possible when it comes to avoiding the behaviors you’re trying to change.  By pushing through temptation, and maintaining persistence with your new and improved behaviors, you will be swapping out those bad habits for the good ones in no time! 

The Southwest Council, Inc. promotes healthy living skills and character building information to both youth and adults throughout the Cumberland, Gloucester, and Salem counties.  We present on a wide range of topics including goal-setting, decision making skills, and ways to avoid the pressures around you.  To find out more information about the healthy living topics we promote, visit www.southwestcouncil.org/our-approach/  or give us a call at (856)-794-1011.

 

 

Sources: 

https://www.apa.org/helpcenter/resolution.aspx 

https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-lifestyle/mental-health-and-wellbeing/how-to-break-bad-habits-and-change-behaviors