with author Jackie Morgan MacDougall
kick that bad habit -- today
Did you know that May 31 is officially known as World No Tobacco Day? If you’re a smoker (or care about a smoker), this is the perfect time to take that first step to kicking the habit.
According to the CDC’s latest data:
• 19.3% of all adults (45.3 million people) were said to be smoking in the U.S. in 2010.
• Tobacco use is responsible for about one in five deaths annually (approx 443,000 deaths per year)
• An estimated 49,000 of these smoking-related deaths are the result of secondhand smoke exposure)
While the numbers show how huge the tobacco problem is here in the U.S., they also show that 80% of Americans don’t have problem when it comes to tobacco. But that doesn’t mean we can’t use this opportunity to create positive change and kick another bad habit in our lives, maybe one we’ve tried to quit before – unsuccessfully.
Whether it’s smoking, overeating or a number of other choices we make every day, psychotherapist Stacy Kaiser says the good news is… any behavior CAN be stopped, IF you have the right tools and follow an effective plan. Here are a few tips to change bad habits. Leaving you more in control of your own life – and future.
Be specific about the habit that you want to break. Is it the nightly midnight box-of-cookie binge? Is your goal to quit smoking for good? Determine what it is you’re trying to break and keep your eye on that goal only.
Make a plan Whether it’s to keep danger foods out of the kitchen or avoid buying a pack of cigarettes, set a plan in advance as well as one for when you’re feeling weak. Deciding in advance something like, "When I feel the urge, I will call a friend or go walk around the block" can often help you stay on track when you’ve determined the plan ahead of time.
Get support Ask your friends or family to help you. If you know someone that has a similar bad habit, commit to working on breaking it together.
Let go of perfection Expect there will be mistakes or slipups, but don’t use it as an excuse to get off track. If you find yourself eating a cupcake, throw the other half away… or put out that cigarette before you finish. Don’t beat yourself us, just start over.
Avoid triggers If you eat in front of the TV at night – do something else (like read instead) until you feel the urge to eat pass. If you tend to smoke at restaurants, spend the first few weeks eating at home. If you eat a bunch of your kids’ fries when stopping at that fast food restaurant, choose another meal alternative (they’ll actually benefit from that one too).
Reward success Don’t be afraid of celebrating successes on a regular basis. Whether it’s a day, week or month you’ve stayed on track, give yourself an appropriate (healthy) reward – a pat on the back, a bubble bath or indulging on that new outfit, be sure to do something for yourself that feels good.
We asked our friends on Facebook what habit they've tried to quit. Here are some of their answers!
Courtney: Biting my finger nails! I've done it since I was a little girl! Have I been able to quit? NOPE!! I guess it's better than other habits, but it's still frustrating and annoying! I blame it on stress...but regardless...I still do it!
Dennis: Too much sugar in my coffee...i put 6 sugars in my coffee and that not good. I'm trying to cut down.
Debbie: Grocery shopping. You can give me an unlimited credit card and send me to the mall for 8 hrs and if I had to purchase only for myself. I'd be bored out of my mind and I am guessing at the end of the day I would have bought lunch or at least coffee. BUT send me to the grocery store and I can spend a thousand dollars. I don't know what it is. I love to cook but I panic if my fridge, freezer and cupboards and not stocked. I always say that my husband would be a rich man if we didn't have to eat.
Kevin: It might sound like not really a habit, but just not saying "no" as often I should be able to, and not letting people take advantage in certain situations.