Everybody has habits that they don't like. But breaking them is tricky because you often do them without even realizing it. That's why the first step to banishing those behaviors is recognizing that you do something irritating in the first place. Then, replace that practice with something that serves a similar purpose. Eventually, that'll become a habit. Here are other expert strategies for stopping some popular practices.
1. Biting Your Nails
If you hide your hands because you've gnawed your nails to nubs, it's time to change that. Identify what you do before you bite your nails, suggests James Claiborn, PhD, co-author of The Habit Change Workbook: How to Break Bad Habits and Form Good Ones. Do you search for uneven or jagged edges, and then bring your hand to your mouth? Instead of moving a finger toward your face, clench your fists. Continue clenching them for a couple of minutes until the urge to bite your nails disappears. When you feel you've made progress changing this behavior, treat yourself to a well-deserved manicure.
2. Knuckle Cracking
Even though you may love the sensation, you probably want to stop as a courtesy to people who don't enjoy that grating sound. Dr. Claiborn recommends relying on a "competing behavior," a.k.a. doing something instead of cracking your knuckles. Punching your other hand or fanning out your fingers will prevent you from going to town on your knuckles. To crack down on cracking for good, keep a record of your successes-when you substituted another behavior for your bad habit-and your relapses. Figure out why you slipped, and you'll be closer to a knuckle-cracking-free life.
3. Gum Snapping
Again, you may enjoy that gratifying sound, but it's irritating to everyone who can hear it. So ask yourself how important it is to keep chewing gum, says Dr. Claiborn, and consider giving it up altogether. With a stick in your mouth, it's tough to resist snapping it. If you'll miss the pleasurable process, try deep breathing or a relaxation exercise-it may calm you just as effectively. On the other hand, if you chew gum to freshen your breath or stave off hunger, pop in a mint instead.
4. Sleeping in Your Makeup
You're just so tired by the time you go to bed, you can't even think about scrubbing your face. Keep cosmetic-remover wipes on your nightstand, so you can at least wipe off your makeup before you hit the hay, says Yael Varnado, MD, who answers health questions at AskDoctorV.com. Or create a bedtime ritual of using a face-washing product and moisturizer you love while soothing music plays. Need more motivation to remove makeup at night? Sleeping with it on can cause acne and wrinkles, because it dries out skin around your eyes.
SOURCE: Woman's Day