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Friday, 24 October 2014

Breaking Bad Habits

How do you start to change habitual ways of acting that you would like to avoid or do differently?

I recently came across an article Train Your Brain to Break Bad Habits which gives a neuroscientific explanation of habit forming and the role of dopamine in it, then describes an approach to starting to break bad habits using what they describe as a 'mindful' approach. The approach suggested is that of identifying the 'cues' which trigger you into following the habit you want to change. The example given is of someone who checks apps on their smartphone very frequently and would like to change that. The suggestion is that you identify what cues lead you to do that - is it when you see someone else doing it or perhaps when you are waiting somewhere and feeling uncomfortable, or perhaps it's at a particular time of day or place?

The idea here is I think fairly sensible though not new. Start to become aware of when you are triggered into doing something. The increased awareness is a first step to helping you then to intervene in the habit cycle and do something else instead of the bad habit.

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