13. Quell Your Need for Noise

The noise habit is related to the media habit. If you always have to have the television or the radio on, or if you always fall asleep to the television or to music, then you’ve probably got a noise habit.

Noise can temporarily mask your loneliness or nervousness. It can calm an anxious mind or distract a troubled mind. Constant noise can provide a welcome relief from oneself, but if it is compromising your ability to think and perform as well as you could, if it is keeping you from confronting your stress and yourself, then it’s time to make some space for silence in your life. Too much noise is stressful on the body and the mind. Give yourself a break and let yourself experience silence at least once each day for at least ten minutes.

14. Hide Those Credit Cards

Some people get a fantastic high from shopping, and shopping can, indeed, become a bad habit (and even an addiction). If you head to the store when you are feeling frustrated, depressed, anxious, or worried about something, and if the feeling you get from buying a bunch of stuff really makes you feel better, you can be assured you are shopping for the wrong reason.

The shopping habit can be redirected, just like the overeating habit can be redirected. If you think you shop for the wrong reasons, work on finding something else fun to do whenever you feel the shopping impulse. How about something that doesn’t cost any money? It may not feel as good at first, but once you get out of the habit, you’ll wonder how you could possibly have spent so much money on so much junk.

15. Quit Procrastinating

Procrastinators sometimes despair that procrastination is an ingrained part of their personality and impossible to change. Not true! Procrastination, too, is a habit, and it can be reshaped just like anything else. It will certainly take some doing. Just remember, you don’t have to stop procrastinating all at once. Choose areas to tackle first, like getting to work on time. How can you reorganize your morning and inspire yourself to get up in the first place? Maybe paying bills on time will be your first focus, or retraining yourself to pick up clutter or wash every dish before bedtime. You can do it!

16. Practice the Pause

Know your habit, and when you are about to fall into your habitual behavior, learn to pause, just for a moment, and think. Ask yourself these questions: Will this nourish my body? Will this nourish my spirit? Is this good for me? Will I feel good about doing this later? Or, will I feel guilty about it later? Is it really worth the momentary pleasure?

17. Get Rid of Habit Triggers

Don’t have habit triggers in your house. If sugar sets you off on a binge, don’t keep sugary snacks around. If you can’t resist shopping, leave your credit card at home. Bring just enough cash to make your purchase, and no more. Don’t keep alcohol in the house if that’s your weakness. If nighttime television is your weakness, get that TV out of your bedroom.

18. Replace Your Habits with Good “Treats”

If you use your bad habit to soothe your stress, replace your habit (food, cigarettes, excessive Internet surfing) with another kind of “treat” that is just as good or better. Make that “treat” easily accessible in situations where you know you’ll be tempted to lapse into your habit. For example, if you automatically turn on the television as soon as you get home from work, allow yourself twenty minutes of quiet time instead. Don’t let anyone disturb you! Put on relaxing music and breathe, meditate, read a book, or just take a catnap. You’ll be recharged far beyond what that hour of soap operas could have done.

19. Become a Connoisseur

Turn your habit into your specialty by becoming a connoisseur! Let food become a genuine pleasure. Focus on quality, not quantity. If you want food, eat a small amount of something really good. Savor every bite. The same goes for alcohol. Rather than drinking as much as you can of whatever is available, settle for only small amounts of the very best. And the same goes for shopping. Don’t just buy whatever you see. Go for one item that you would genuinely use and enjoy.

Or, you can throw yourself into the reverse of your habit. A nail biter? Learn how to do manicures and pedicures. A slob? Become an expert at organizing your household and routines in a way that minimizes cleaning. Many self-professed slobs have reformed and created successful careers for themselves as professional organizers.

20. Keep a Journal

Get out your stress journal. List your habits, describe what you think triggers them, and then write down how each habit causes you stress. For example, you might write “nail biting” in the first column, “feeling nervous or bored” in the second column, and “social embarrassment, feeling unattractive, annoyance at myself” in the third column.

Even if you aren’t quite ready to give up a habit—perhaps you know you are addicted to television but you aren’t ready to quit watching your twelve favorite shows just yet. If that is the case, record your habit in the chart anyway. You can deal with it when you are ready, even if you won’t be ready any time soon. At least you’ll have all your bad habits officially identified in one place.

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