How to change unhealthy habits

"Habit is habit, and not to be flung out of the window by any man, but coaxed downstairs a step at a time." - Mark Twain

Humans are habitual creatures. This means that today we mostly do the same things as we did yesterday and will do again tomorrow. Our habitual behaviours range from eating to exercise, from sleeping to working, from managing our personal lives and even to doing nothing - procrastination is a habit! Some of these habits are healthy e.g. having a mid-morning apple or brushing our teeth before bed; while others less helpful such as always having the television on or adding salt to our food.

Habitual behaviour is learned and as such habits can be unlearned. Knowing how to change habits can have a significant impact on our health and wellbeing. If you are looking to change some unhealthy habits and replace them with positive ones here are a few tips to get you started.

Remember the three week rule

Our bodies take time to adjust to new circumstances. Research suggests that 21 days is sufficient time to break a stubborn habit. If you want to ditch that afternoon sweet, replace it with a piece of fruit and continue for three weeks. Soon your body will be craving an apple not cake!

One Habit at a Time

While changing one habit every three weeks doesn't sound very productive, your new healthy habit may persist a lifetime so it's worth the investment.

Use a Trigger

A trigger is a short ritual you perform before a habit. A trigger helps condition a new pattern more consistently.

Don't try to go "cold turkey"

It's important to replace lost needs. Your unhelpful habit was giving you something so find a healthy replacement. e.g. instead of ditching dessert, gradually change to more nutritious treats, such as those made with fresh fruit, so that you're having more fibre, natural sugars and fewer processed foods.

Change the order e.g. have your dessert first!

This may sound bizarre but when habit is the problem, you will disrupt the routine, which could weaken the habit.

Challenge negative thinking

When you notice negative thoughts use "BUT" to weaken their impact eg. "I am a weak person BUT if I persist I can build strength"

People, who are the most successful at conquering any difficult habit, do so by having an honest desire to be free of the controlling nature of the habit. They have patience, do not give up, try more than one method and most importantly they do not "beat themselves up". The more praise, rather than punishment you give yourself, the sooner the unhealthy habit will be a thing of the past.

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit. - Aristotle

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

For more information about our psychology and counselling service to help people deal with any form of physical disability, please call us on 1300 704 456, email [email protected] or leave your contact details on the enquiry form on this page.


Fill out below to see more information

How can we help you today?

    I need support for *

    Amount of support needed *

    How can we assist you? *


    Top 3 reasons to choose Independence Australia for home care


    Price Promise

    Get the best deal.
    We can provide additional value in products, equipment or services outside your support plan.



    Get what you need.
    From our one business you can access health care products, mobility equipment, services and much more.


    Social Enterprise

    Support a good cause.
    We invest our income back into vital services and programs to support people with disabilities.

    Mix and match our services to suit your needs