Here’s How To Get Rid Of These Common Habits (& What Will Happen If You Don’t)

Habits can be both unconscious and conscious movements we’ve picked up as a reaction to an emotion or situation. And to understand how to stop this reaction, author Nebo D. Lukovich has broken down what a “habit”  is into three components –


  1. The Cue – the trigger that brings about the routine.
  2. The Routine – the action that is taken to control the trigger.
  3. The Reward – the satisfaction or relief received from completing the routine (can be both an inner contentment or an external pleasant event.


He believes that it is possible to stop your bad habit, by replacing the routine with a reward. This would then inevitably lead you to replace your bad habit with a new one that provides the same reward without the negative consequences.


1. Biting your nails / Picking at your cuticles.

Not only is nail-biting and cuticle picking unhygienic, we’re going to keep it real, it is also socially repelling. Especially with how careful we have to be about the dirt and bacteria that we can collect under our nails. If it’s already frowned upon to touch your face with dirty hands, what about putting them in your mouth? And, you’re practically tearing of the protective layer of skin that’s keeping the germs out. There’s also the risk of infection, which will cause your cuticle and the surrounding area to become red, hot, sore, swollen, and filled with pus. You may even end up with a fever. Not only that, but excessive biting can also lead to dental problems like malocclusion (where your top and bottom teeth become misaligned), potential stomach problems and long term damage to your fingers.


What you can do instead – the new routine: If nail-biting and picking at your cuticles is your way of dealing with stress, do something of a similar action. For example, when you feel yourself moving towards your fingers (either to tear at it or to bite), grab something else. Be it a stress ball, your wrist (avoid death grips), or even the edge of the table. Having a drink in hand also works to keep your fingers occupied.


Reward: And as you make progress, treat yourself to a nice manicure! Not only will your nails look gorgeous, you will be more reluctant to mess up the nail art you’ve forked out money for.



2. Not eating on time.

Are you the type to completely forgo food as you lose yourself in your work? Turns out that you’re putting yourself at risk of metabolic syndrome. The term encompasses high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and obesity. And if you’re the type to snack whenever you’re hungry, rather than at regular intervals, you’re not doing your body any favours either. The concept of maintaining a regular eating schedule is not a foreign one, however, these days we are more prone to following our work and/or social schedules than our body clocks. In doing so, we might be giving our body energy at the wrong times and storing unnecessary fat in the process. Not to mention the fact that skipping meals can lead to painful stomach ulcers.


What you can do instead – the new routine: Start the day right – by eating something. It doesn’t have to be clean foods like fruit. It can also be a sandwich or yesterdays leftovers. If you’re on the go, grab something small like a granola bar. As for your regular meals, opt for meal preps so you know that you have food ready when you need it. Another option is to schedule your meals to coincide with that of your friends/loved ones. Having company is a good push to eat on time.


Reward: You know that one place you’ve been wanting to go to for food but haven’t been able to just yet? Be it because it was too far or too expensive – now’s the time to go. Set a date, make your reservation and satisfy your cravings.



3. Hitting snooze.

Sometimes, even the best kind of morning person will want to snooze after a particularly taxing day before. Imagine what it’s like for people who are, well, most definitely not morning people. Snoozing in the morning can lead to you being late, which in turn ruins your image and reputation. It’s rude to keep people waiting. In addition, you’ll find yourself constantly rushing to get places. PLUS – now, not many people know this but – snoozing have a negative impact on your health too. For one, it throws your body clock off if you’re constantly changing the time you wake up because your body will not know when to feel tired, thus depriving yourself of rest. Sleep deprivation, in turn, can cause heightened stress, lowered immunity, and increased inflammation. It also has more detrimental effects. In the long term, constantly hitting that snooze button in the morning is like multiple “assaults on your brain and body” because your body will constantly switch between “fight or flight mode” and “rest mode” as you engage your sympathetic nervous system. This can lead to depression.


What you can do instead – the new routine: It may be difficult to reset your sleep patterns, so start small. Don’t allow yourself to hit snooze more than once and not for more than 9 minutes. The higher the snooze frequency or duration, the higher the chances of you confusing your brain and experiencing sleep inertia (a state of impaired cognitive and sensory-motor performance). From there start setting your alarm for the exact time you have to get up, and then force yourself to get moving. By setting your alarm with minimal time to dally, you will also feel the urgency to get up (to avoid being late).


Reward: Forget snoozing, turn off your alarm on the weekends. Allow yourself the luxury of sleeping in after you’ve spent more than 70% of your week diligently waking up on time.



4. Checking social media constantly.

A.K.A. Social Media Addiction – yes, it’s a thing. It’s easy to slip into the black hole of social media; you go in with the intention to merely check on the days’ news and – BOOM – it’s suddenly two hours later and you’ve got minimal work done.  Keeping up with the news, trends and your friends is no issue – it’s when you find yourself reaching for your phone every 15 seconds that you’ve got something not quite right. There are no rose coloured glasses to distort the benefits and effects of social media, it’s out there in the open. It has been linked to higher levels of loneliness, envy, anxiety, depression, narcissism and decreased social skills. “FOMO” (fear of missing out) becomes a thing as you retreat behind the screen. Sleep becomes second fiddle to keeping up with what’s on social media and your attention span, well, is going to be abysmal. At the end of the day, is it worth it?


What you can do instead – the new routine: Start off by setting a target or a goal you know will be a breeze to accomplish (build up your confidence!). Tell yourself not to check your phone for 15 minutes, then slowly increase to an hour, then two and so on. Turning off your notifications is a great way as well, it will mean fewer distractions. And if you’re worried about missing out on work, set it up so that you’ve only got your essentials popping up – WhatsApp, email, that sort of thing. You don’t need Facebook, Twitter or Instagram when you’re hard at work. Dedicate some time for that at the start or at the end of the day for that.


Reward: Use social media – and set up a date with your friends, family or partner. Go to that class you’ve been wanting to try out. Now that you’ve got more time (what with you finishing your work on time and spending less time on your phone) you get to enjoy and experience life as it’s happening. What could be better than that?


Never underestimate the power of small beginnings. After all, sikit – sikit, lama- lama jadi bukit (little by little, it will eventually become a mountain).