A healthy lifestyle requires a balance between what you want and what you need. Your body may need a salad, but your heart may wish to have a pizza. Or maybe your mind needs to rest, but your heart wants to binge-watch a show. Your day is torn between this constant struggle, making healthy habits seem unattainable. If you opt for the healthy route, you can feel deprived. If you follow your heart, you may feel guilty.

If you relate to this scenario — don’t worry; you’re not alone. Many others face similar dilemmas. Some habits are hard to break as they were developed when you were a child. Other habits begin in adulthood as a coping mechanism to deal with stress. Either way, unhealthy habits can be detrimental to your future, and the sooner they’re broken, the better.

To break a bad habit, you can start by retraining your mind. You can convert an unhealthy lifestyle into a healthy one with patience and perseverance. The journey becomes easier once you acknowledge the problem and commit to fixing it. Simply follow the ten steps below to break free from unwanted habits and make room for a healthier lifestyle.

1. Let Technology Help You

In today’s digital world, technology can be your most reliable friend. Apps and devices can keep you organized and on time. If you feel like you don’t have the time for the gym, allow an app to help you.

Scheduling tools like Calendar, Microsoft Calendar, and Google Calendar can sort out your day between appointments and meetings. You can easily spot empty slots and schedule a workout or date night. You can also coordinate plans with others through these apps to save you the back and forth on texts. The apps can even remind you of your plans ahead of time, so you have no excuse left.

2. Be in Control of Your Time

Another area where technology can help is with time management. Healthy routines are all about discipline. Don’t delay your work or rush through it. Allot an appropriate amount of time and stick to it. Having a disorganized life can make you multitask. This may seem like a win in the short run, but it can lead to anxiety and panic.

The inability to focus causes procrastination, so try apps like the Pomodoro timer apps to keep you productive and efficient. Be realistic with your targets and give yourself enough time to complete the task. Once your routine is organized, you’ll be rewarded with more time to do what you want.

3. Replace Unhealthy with Healthy

Habits are mostly linked to triggers. A time such as mid-afternoon may induce sugar cravings, or a location like a bar can make you want to drink. Identify your trigger and then replace the lousy response with a good response. For instance, have a protein bar to combat the mid-afternoon slump or hang out at a coffee shop instead of a bar.

By swapping the unhealthy for the healthy, you can combat your cravings while keeping your mind busy with something else. Change won’t happen overnight, and cutting off from your favorite things may backfire and cause you to binge later. Start slowly but stay consistent, adjusting your routine along the way.

4. Experiment and Adapt

You must find your own path toward a healthier lifestyle. Influencers on social media may make it look simpler than it is. Don’t follow anyone blindly; experiment with different techniques to see which suits you best.

You need to create your own secret recipe, so go ahead and mix and match all the advice you get. There’s no shame in bringing your exercise routine down a notch if you’re experiencing muscle pain. Keep reminding yourself that you’re doing this for a healthier you, so torturing yourself is not the solution. There may be days when you stumble, and that’s okay as long as you get back on track.

5. Learn from Setbacks

Every failure is a chance to understand yourself further. Don’t beat yourself if you fall back into your bad habits. Instead, find the root cause of the problem. Ask yourself why you couldn’t complete the task on time. Remove all distractions from your workspace and start again with new energy. Turn off social media notifications if they are the culprit.

Explore new work hacks, like the 1-3-5 rule that makes to-do lists more achievable. Break down large goals into smaller ones, so you feel satisfied regularly. Aim for progress, not perfectionism.

6. Celebrate Milestones

Remember how far you’ve come rather than how far you must go. This creates a positive mindset that energizes you to move forward. Keep track of how much your habits have improved, and reward yourself for your hard work.

Mind you, celebrations can also be a trap for unhealthy habits. Work on de-linking fun from unhealthy food or alcohol. You can pamper yourself with a day at the spa or splurge on new clothes instead. Also, be careful who you celebrate with. You don’t want your friends to tempt you to cheat on your routine that took so long to create.

7. Create a Support System

If your friends are dragging you into unhealthy ways, you must steer away slowly. It’s essential to have social connections, but maybe the healthier version of you needs to be around like-minded people. Make new friends at the gym or at work who encourage you to be healthier.

People who prioritize their health are more successful in maintaining a work-life balance. Learn from them and become partners to keep each other motivated. Having an accountability buddy can help keep you on track. They’ll also cheer you up on days when your motivation is low.

8. Be Kind to Yourself

Life is full of ups and downs, so be ready for the bad days as well. Don’t let a stressful day ruin all your efforts to create a healthy routine. Ensure you go to the gym or for a walk after a bad day. This may help balance the negativity and give you the energy to resist unhealthy temptations at home.

What’s most important is to understand your needs. Maybe you can try again at a different time when you feel more energized. Understand the principles of energy management to focus on your body’s rhythm and learn how to nourish energy reserves. Find what routine works best with your personality and preferences to stay healthier and happier.

9. Stay Inspired and Motivated

Visualize success to keep you charged and focused. If you’re saving money for a car, stick a photograph on your desk to remind yourself of your goal. Picture yourself enjoying the benefits of your new habits to help you overcome the obstacles in your way.

Listen to motivational talks and read books about inspirational leaders and their commitment to their goals. Don’t underestimate your willpower or your ability to change. Journaling or habit-tracking apps track your progress so you stay accountable. Plus, seeing how far you’ve come is a definite confidence boost.

10. Seek Professional Help, If Needed

Sometimes, despite all efforts, you don’t see any progress, which could indicate an underlying clinical issue. Discussing your situation with your healthcare provider is a good idea to ensure everything is under control.

If you feel overwhelmed by the change process, you can also speak to a professional therapist or health coach. There are plenty of resources to help you transform your habits, so don’t hesitate to reach out.

Making and breaking habits takes time. Experts say it may take up to ten weeks sometimes, so don’t try to overhaul your life overnight. Stay open-minded about your approach and utilize all the human and technical resources that may help you build momentum. This phase may be exhausting, but with commitment and dedication, you’re paving your way to a happier and healthier future.

Featured Image Credit: Photo by Ichad Windhiagiri; Pexels