3 Easy Steps to Breaking Bad Habits
Think bad habits like nail biting and knuckle cracking are hard to break? Experts offer simple solutions.
Step No. 3: Bait and Switch
Once you realize when and why you are biting your nails, cracking your
knuckles, or engaging in any other bad habit, the next logical step is to find
a not-quite-as-annoying temporary or permanent replacement for it.
"If you are a nail biter, try gum," Jaffee says.
"For throat clearing, the competing response may be some sort of slow
exhaling because it is impossible to do that and clear your throat at same
time," Claiborn says. "Develop a way of breathing whenever you feel the
urge to clear your throat. You can see some changes in a very short period of
time. There will be a major reduction in throat clearing within days."
If knuckle cracking is your way of coping with stress, Wolfe, says, "Try
getting your hands in a position where you won't be able to crack your
knuckles. Or stroke the fabric of your sleeve, doodle, or do something else
with your hands."
Meditation may also help break bad habits, she adds. Once you have
identified the triggers, you can do meditation to distract yourself next time
you are in a trigger situation.
Another tactic involves placing a large rubber band around your wrist, says
Farrell. "Every time you become aware that you are [engaging in a bad
habit], pull it back and allow it to snap so it creates a discomfort," she