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How to Ditch Bad Habits

Nail biting… interrupting… snapping your gum… here’s how to put a stop to those annoying habits.

Maybe you need to stop cracking your knuckles because it drives your partner crazy… maybe you want to stop picking your cuticles because well, it's driving you crazy…whatever the case, we’ve got some simple suggestions and techniques for putting a stop to that bad habit.

Make sure you’re ready No matter how much the habit bugs you, if you aren’t really ready to put in the time and energy to try and change, it’s not a good idea to start the process. If you try before you’re ready and fail, that can demoralize you and make it even harder to change in the future.

Take it slow …and keep your expectations low. That might not sound great, but if you set your sights too high right away, you’re likely to get totally overwhelmed – in other words, you’re setting yourself up for failure and disappointment. Unless you’re an all or nothing person and know that cold turkey is the way to go, work on easing your way out of the habit and letting yourself slowly gain confidence.

Be accountable If your partner has a habit they’re looking to shed, suggest a coordinated quit. Tough stuff is always easier to go through with someone else. If you can’t find someone to do it with you in real life, head to our message boards and tell fellow members on TheNest.com about your plan. Once someone else knows about it, it’ll be harder (think: more embarrassing) not to follow through on pursuing your goal.

Pay attention Keep track of times when you’re most susceptible to engaging in the habit, and then find a way to get extra support at those times. Do you tend to bite your nails during meetings? Bring along some Silly Putty to play with. (take a really small piece – you can hide it in your hands and no one will notice. Um, trust us on this one.)

Be prepared for slips …cause they’ll happen. That’s just the nature of the process. Don’t freak out when it happens; just make sure you have a plan already set up for getting back on track.

Nestpert: Judith F. Kashtan, MD, is a practicing psychiatrist in the Twin Cities and past president of the Minnesota Psychiatric Association. Find out more at kashtan.yourmd.com.

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-- The Nest Editors

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