Making your way to better health can take a lot of sacrifice and self-discipline, and it is rarely easy to make lasting changes. This is particularly difficult if there are issues of drug or alcohol use, or other bad habits that cloud your decision-making. For me, my tumultuous relationship led to weekly drinking, and subsequently my physical health fell by the wayside. It took a move back to my hometown for me to realize that I needed to make some changes, so I turned a negative life event into a positive one by tackling some of my bad habits. It doesn’t have to take a life-altering event for you to make the decision to remove negative habits. What are some strategies that you can use to put a stop to bad habits that are damaging your overall health?
Take stock of your unhealthy habits and weak spots
There are a number of indulgences that can negatively affect your overall health. Drug and alcohol use are common ones, of course, but many people also have other bad habits that impact their overall health. Reader’s Digest notes that in addition to drinking alcohol, bad habits that people sometimes struggle with include eating too much junk food or unhealthy treats, smoking cigarettes, overusing prescription medications, and embracing a sedentary lifestyle.
Ditching bad habits cannot be done overnight, and for most people, making lasting changes will require some significant self-discipline. Hiring a personal trainer was the kick in the pants I needed. I was paying this person, so that was reason enough to go, but I had to train my body to get up early each morning before work. That meant turning my phone off each night and crawling into bed at a decent hour. Psych Central suggests that when you are looking to improve your overall health and do away with harmful addictions or habits, it can be helpful to take stock of your weak spots. For example, some people find themselves likely to dig into sugary junk food late at night, and others come to realize that they reach for alcohol when they get home right after work.
Track your progress to document your successes
Keeping a journal of these habits and weak spots can bring some clarity on where you need to make changes, and shaking up your routines can help you conquer an addiction. Try getting some moderate exercise right after work instead of pouring a drink, or shift your activities during times that you would normally reach for a cigarette or sugary treat. For example, I replaced my weekly drinks with a cup of hot tea and a yoga session. I realized I was drinking as a way to unwind after a stressful day at work or a fight with my ex, so I found a way to cope that was more beneficial in the long term. Habits are hard to break, but replacing them with a healthier version makes them easier to break and forget.
A journal tracking your activities and eating habits can also build your self-discipline over time as you start to see improvements and successes. During a weak or difficult moment, look through your journal to see what has worked in the past and focus on what you’ve done well. Huffington Post points out that simply keeping a journal takes self-discipline as it is, and discipline will serve to build more discipline. As you start building better habits, you’ll likely find the strength and motivation to add in new ones. Journaling is just one of the many creative avenues you can pursue to not only track your progress, but improve your mental health. Bad habits are often our way of dealing with daily stressors, so use your creativity to express your frustrations in a positive manner. Paint your feelings, dance it out, belt it out, or create a piece of jewelry to wear as a constant reminder to relax.
Connect with a partner for support as you build self-discipline and tackle bad habits
Finding the self-discipline to commit to lifestyle changes can sometimes be easier if you find a partner or buddy to connect with as you work on making changes. When I moved back home, I reconnected with old friends and found an accountability partner to help me in my pursuit of a more healthy and positive lifestyle. A post via the Rocky Mountain Collegian details how finding someone who enjoys positive activities like you do can be a big asset and key to success in developing positive habits and committing to a healthy lifestyle.
On days where you feel like ditching the workout you wanted to tackle, drive through to grab some fast food, or pour a drink, connecting with your support person can give you an extra dose of self-discipline. It is harder to skip a scheduled workout if you know that somebody else is counting on you to show up, and having a buddy to connect with in trying to eliminate bad habits can give you some strength when you’re struggling.
Small changes can add up to have a significant impact on your health, but it does take sacrifice and self-discipline to make it happen. The first step to success is recognizing your weak spots so you can formulate a plan for change and keeping a journal can be a big help in tracking your progress. In addition, many people also find that connecting with another person as a workout buddy or support person can provide additional discipline to get you through the tough days of committing to healthy lifestyle changes. I came out on the other end, and you can too.
[Image via Pixabay]