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Breaking Bad Habits in 28 Days

Breaking Bad Habits in 28 Days

    I was watching “The Big C” on Showtime the other night, and one of the characters mentioned off-hand that it takes 28 days to break a bad habit. A quick Google search showed me that this wasn’t just a bit of silver screen writing, but a fairly well-accepted theory.

    Some people argue it’s more like 21 days, or 30; still others say that it takes 30 days to create a pattern and 90 days to create a habit. Obviously, some habits are easier to break than others. For example, if you are both a smoker and a nail biter, it’s probably more feasible to break the nail biting habit in a month, but less reasonable to think that quitting cigs can get done in 30 days or less.

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    But how realistic is it to try and break any habit in 30 days? And where did this idea of habit-busting in under a month come from in the first place?

    In the Beginning

    The 30 day habit-breaking plan has come under many guises over the years and has been backed by many different experts. But most people agree that the genesis of this theory dates back to a 1960 psychology book: Psycho-Cybernetics by Maxwell Maltz. In addition to putting forward the 30-day habit breaking theory, the book also postulated that a person must have an accurate and positive view of his or her self before setting goals; otherwise he or she will get stuck in a continuing pattern of limiting beliefs.

    Getting In the Right Mindset

    Getting ready to break a bad habit is tough, and getting in the right mindset to break a habit in just a month is even tougher.

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    Steve Pavlina puts it best:

    “We often psyche ourselves out of getting started by mentally thinking about the change as something permanent — before we’ve even begun…But what if you thought about making the change only temporarily — say for 30 days — and then you’re free to go back to your old habits? That doesn’t seem so hard anymore. Exercise daily for just 30 days, then quit. Maintain a neatly organized desk for 30 days, then slack off. Read for an hour a day for 30 days, then go back to watching TV.”

    Its important to make sure that when you attempt to break a habit in 30 days, you’re picking a bad habit that you actually engage in on a daily basis. Seems obvious when you think about it, but if you try to break a habit that you don’t do on a daily basis, its a bit harder to gauge your success in a limited 30-day window.

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    Tips and Tricks

    Hiram of Balanced Health Blueprint has a clever trick for tracking your daily progress in your quest to break a bad habit. Take 3 coins (or tokens or buttons, but really, coins are best) and label them 1-30 with a washable magic marker. For every day that passes and you don’t indulge in your bad habit, drop a coin in a jar.

    If you make it to 30 days, buy yourself something small, but symbolic, with the coins to celebrate your triumph. But if you backslide, Hiram says, “Start over. Take your container and hold it up so you can see it clearly. Take a close look at all the coins inside representing your progress. Now dump out all the coins and start over.”

    Conclusion

    You should think of the habit-breaking process like a marathon. Every step you make towards your goal over a 30 day period gets you closer to the finish line.

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    What’s your bad habit? And do you think you could ever break that habit in 30 days? Tell us in the comments below!

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    Tucker Cummings

    Writer and social media professional sharing productivity tips on Lifehack.

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    Last Updated on December 9, 2019

    5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

    5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

    Everyone experiences mental stress at one time or another. Maybe you’re starting a new career, job, or business, or you feel incredibly overwhelmed between work, parenting, and your love life (or a lack of it). It could even be that you simply feel that you have way too much to do and not enough time to do it,  plus, on top of everything, nothing seems to be going the way it should!

    Yup, we all experience mental stress from time-to-time, and that’s okay as long as you have the tools, techniques and knowledge that allow you to fully relieve it once it comes.

    Here are 5 tips for relieving mental stress when it comes so you can function at your best while feeling good (and doing well) in work, love, or life:

    1. Get Rationally Optimistic

    Mental stress starts with your perception of your experiences. For instance, most people get stressed out when they perceive their reality as “being wrong” in some way. Essentially, they have a set idea of how things “should be” at any given moment, and when reality ends up being different (not even necessarily bad), they get stressed.

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    This process is simply a result of perception and can be easily “fixed” by recognizing that although life might not always be going as YOU think it should, it’s still going as it should—for your own benefit.

    In fact, once you fully recognize that everything in your life ultimately happens for your own growth, progress, and development—so you can achieve your goals and dreams—your perception works in your favor. You soon process and respond to your experience of life differently, for your advantage. That’s the essence of becoming “rationally optimistic.”

    The result: no more mental stress.

    2. Unplug

    Just like you might need to unplug your computer when it starts acting all crazy, you should also “unplug” your mind.

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    How on earth do you unplug your mind? Simple: just meditate.

    It isn’t nearly difficult or complicated as some people think, so, if you don’t already meditate, give it a try. Whether you meditate for 5 minutes, 30 minutes, or 2 hours, this is a surefire way to reduce mental stress.

    Meditation has been scientifically proven to relax your body (resulting in less mental stress), while also reducing anxiety and high blood pressure.

    3. Easy on the Caffeine

    Yes, we know, we know—everyone loves a nice java buzz, and that’s okay, but there’s a fine line between a small caffeine pick-me-up and a racing heart and mind that throws you into a frenzy of mental stress.

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    Try giving up caffeine for a while and see how you feel. And, if that’s completely out of the question for you, at least try to minimize it. You might find that lots of your mental stress mysteriously “disappears” as your caffeine intake goes down.

    4. Attack Mental Stress Via the Back Door

    That’s right: your body and mind are part of the whole being, and are constantly influencing and affecting each other. If you’re experiencing a lot of mental stress, try to reduce it by calming your body down—a calm body equals a calmer mind.

    How do you calm your body down and reduce physical stress? A  great way to reduce physical stress (thereby reducing mental stress) is to take natural supplements that are proven to reduce stress and anxiety while lifting your mood. Three good ones to look into are kava-kava, St John’s wort, and rhodiola rosea:

    • Kava-kava is a natural plant known to have mild sedative properties, and you should be able to find it at your natural health food store or vitamin store. It’s available in capsules or liquid extract form.
    • St John’s wort is a natural flower used to treat depression. Again, it’s found at your local health store in capsules or liquid. Because it uplifts mood (enabling you to see the brighter side of all experiences) it helps relieve mental stress as well.
    • Rhodiola rosea is a natural plant shown to reduce stress and uplift mood, and Russian athletes have been using it forever. Like the other two supplements mentioned, rhodiola rosea can be found at your natural health store in capsule or liquid form.

    While these supplements are all natural and can be very helpful for most people, always check with your health care provider first as they can cause side-effects depending on your current health situation etc.

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    5. Good Old-Fashioned Exercise

    This tip has been around forever because it works. Nothing relieves mental stress like running, kickboxing—you name it. Anything super-physical will wipe out most of your mental stresses once the exercise endorphins (happy chemicals) are released into your brain.

    The result: mental stress will be gone!

    So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed or just plain stressed, try using some of the above tips. You can even print this out or save it to refer to regularly.

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