Creating A Healthier Life: Build Self-Discipline To Conquer Bad Habits And Addictions

This is a guest post from Jackie Cortez from The Prevention Coalition.

Breaking bad habits can pave the way to a much healthier life, but finding the self-discipline to make it happen can be a challenge. There are plenty of choices we make that we know are not good for our overall health, and sometimes those choices progress to the point of becoming an addiction. Making sacrifices and lasting changes can be incredibly challenging, but they are well worth the effort when it comes to improving your health.

Breaking bad habits and addictions often leads to better health.
Image courtesy Pixabay

Bad habits and addictions come in many shapes and forms when it comes to health and they all can take a toll on our mental health and physical fitness. Drug and alcohol addictions are quite common in today's society. However, people can also develop addictions related to things like food, exercise, and nicotine. It is also common to replace one addiction with another; for example, replacing a drug addiction with a nicotine addiction. Recognizing and conquering these types of bad habits or addictions can lead to substantial improvements in your health.

Here are some tips on how to do it:

Find your motivation and break down your goals into small steps

Putting bad habits behind you for good may not be easy, but success is possible even if you have failed before. As Metro details, you need to start fresh, put together a plan, and look forward in order to get rid of unhealthy habits and improve your overall health. Finding the motivation to change is a key first step, and even if you feel you don't have the self-discipline to stick with the change, having a reason to change and developing a plan will get you well on your way to permanent change.

Many people who are struggling with self-discipline issues find that keeping a log or a journal can be a helpful strategy. Psychology Today points out that it is important to track your progress as you work toward each of your goals, and that is where a journal or diary comes into play. Whether you use a paper journal, a phone app, or an online resource, be honest in your tracking and use your log to watch for problematic patterns and big successes.

Sacrifices are necessary for lasting change

Improving your overall health often means that some sacrifices will need to be made. For example, you may need to get up earlier to squeeze in exercise before work, say no to happy hour with your co-workers, or change some comfortable routines that center around bad habits that need to go.

Of course, you shouldn't necessarily expect perfection. As the American Heart Association points out, making healthy choices most of the time, and keeping an eye on your overall health goals, is the key. An occasional treat or slip doesn't mean that all of your hard work is for nothing, so look forward and focus on your goals again as quickly as possible.

Set goals and break them down into achievable steps

When you are setting your goals to improve your overall health, think in terms of both short-term and long-term goals and steps. Prevention details that it works well to take an overall goal, such as to lose weight, and break it down into short-term goals and action steps. For example, think of losing five or 10 pounds at a time rather than a total amount, and focus on action steps such as getting in fruit and vegetable servings, drinking water, or exercising that will give you small successes in regular doses.

Making significant changes to your lifestyle to combat addictions and improve your overall health can be a difficult journey. Experts suggest taking time to set goals and think through your motivations, then keep a journal as you work toward those goals. Break things down into small, measurable, actionable steps, and be kind to yourself if things don't always go smoothly. Your efforts will pay off when you are living a healthier life, despite the challenges and hiccups that may pop up along the way.

About Jackie Cortez

Ms. Cortez works with The Prevention Coalition to find resources on every aspect of addiction, including recovery.

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