7 Ways to Unlearn Bad Habits That Harm Mental Health

7 Ways to Unlearn Bad Habits That Harm Mental Health

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Have you ever analyzed your life and considered the bad habits you’ve picked up in life? Everyone has these little annoying things they do that can be bad for you or those around you. They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but there must be some way to unlearn all these toxic behaviors you learned along life’s journey.

Do you remember doing a whirlpool while swimming with your friends? You and those around you walk in a circle going in one direction until you get the water going fast. The fun was when you switched paths and tried to walk against the current.

You found quickly how powerful the force of water is, especially when it’s become accustomed to flowing one way. You can use this same analogy for your life. Once you’ve been familiar with doing something one way for many years, it’s hard to do a 180-degree turn and develop new habits.

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However, if you learned anything from that whirlpool effect as a child, you know that you can eventually change the course of the water flows in the pool. You need to be strong enough to fight the resistance in the water.

Seven Ways to Unlearn Bad Habits

The good news is that with some hard work and determination, you can unlearn all those bad habits that hold you back. Here are some ways to accomplish this task and become a new and better you.

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1. Admit There’s a Problem So You Can Begin to Unlearn the Negative Practices

The first step to making a change in your life is to admit that there’s a problem. Let’s assume that you smoked cigarettes for many years. It’s not easy to give up such a habit, primarily if you use it to cope with stress.

It will be hard to change unless you admit that smoking is wrong. Some people don’t see the harm in having one or two cigarettes a day as it helps with their sanity. Even if you know, it’s a bad habit. It’s still going to be an uphill battle. Gather some information about why this habit is dangerous to your mental and physical health. Focus on these aspects rather than how good it makes you feel in the moment.

Perhaps the amount of money it costs you can be a driving force. Think of what you could do with all that extra money. You want your body to be a temple of positivity, and putting toxins and harmful things into your being will not accomplish this goal.

2. Know Your Triggers

Maybe you want to control your anger because it’s a horrible habit that has got you in trouble. Once you admit that you have a problem, the next step is to realize what triggers you. Perhaps things like watching a football game get your dander up and make you see red when your team is losing.

You would want to avoid football until you learn other coping methods in this instance. Maybe you get all bent out of shape every time your spouse goes shopping as they spend too much money. When you identify the very thing that sends you over the edge, you can work on managing the seething anger that effortlessly takes hold.

Ask yourself what you can do differently in those moments to keep your cool?

3. Unlearn Your Toxic Habits and Replace Them With Positive Ones

Most people love the cold turkey approach to quitting an addiction because they want to move past it quickly. However, it’s not feasible to quit a habit they’ve developed so fast over many years. The helpful thing to do is trade that toxic pattern for a positive one.

If you smoke because you’re stressed out and your anxiety reaches its peak, you still need to learn how to manage this anxiety to conquer the toxic habit. So, rather than going for a cigarette, losing your temper, or binge eating to comfort you, why not walk outside and do deep breathing exercises?

Positive habits can become just as much a part of you as negative ones. If walking doesn’t get your blood pumping and calm you down, then why not try calling a friend and venting?

You can find something to counter these toxic coping skills when you put some time and effort behind it. Remember, it’s not going to happen overnight, and you’re going to falter. But you can do this.

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4. Know That You’re Going to Stumble

Do you remember when you first learned to drive a car? It felt overwhelming to get behind the wheel and have such power at your fingertips.

However, after becoming accustomed to driving, you suddenly learned that you could drive with one hand, talk on the phone, gauge your speed without even looking at the speedometer, and eat while traveling.

Like with most things, practice makes perfect. How often did you run red lights, pull out in front of cars, or have a fender bender? There are learning curves with anything new. Let’s put some statistics to this analogy.

Teen drivers cause five out of ten accidents on American highways. There are about six million car crashes each year, and teens are responsible for over 500,000 of them. Another shocking figure is that most teens have an accident within six months of getting their license, so their inexperience is a significant factor.

When you begin your journey to find positive habits and unlearn the bad, you’re going to crash a few times from inexperience. However, once you learn a few things, it will become second nature. Just don’t beat yourself up when you stumble a few times, as you had to learn to crawl before you could walk.

5. Know When to Get Help

Everyone needs a little help from time to time, and when you try to unlearn a toxic habit you’ve developed, you might need reinforcement. You can turn to several avenues, depending on what you’re trying to overcome. Someone trying to overcome drugs and alcohol would turn to a rehabilitation center or a spiritual guide.

If you have anger issues that you can’t control, you might want to seek help from a therapist to learn practical coping skills. No matter what you want to unlearn, there’s always someone who can help.

According to the Mayo Clinic, cognitive behavioral therapy helps you get rid of negative thinking and teaches you a more effective way to handle things. CBT can help you gain a new perspective regarding stressful life situations.

6. Start Small When It’s Time to Unlearn the Negative Habits

Maybe you want to give up eating all sugar and processed foods. The last thing you want to do is go to a buffet where you will be enticed and probably succumb to the temptation. It would help if you started slowly as you want this to be a source of positivity in your life that sticks.

So, you know eating trash foods is bad for you, so why not start by cutting out candy bars and snack cakes first? Once you master these things, then move on to something else. Remember that the cold turkey approach doesn’t usually work well for most people, so starting slow and developing good habits can be effective.

7. Keep a Journal

There are many benefits to journaling, but one of the best is that it serves as a timeline to remind you of where you’ve been. Start charting your journey and the processes along the way. Write down the times you stumble and the times when you conquered things.

Keeping a realistic account of your journey from start to finish can allow you to see how far you’ve come. Before you know it, the positive habits will replace all the bad ones, and those toxic things will be but a distant memory.

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Final Thoughts on How to Unlearn Bad Habits

One of the significant issues that hinder people from success is overthinking things. If you want to lose 50 lbs., you may become so overwhelmed by the big picture that you can’t fathom doing the small steps each day. It’s best to devise a plan and stick with it.

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