Enjoyable Way Find Alternate Sources for the Reward
If you are attempting to alter a “bad habit” you currently perform, it can be exceptionally useful to recognize and replace the reward that you currently experience from the bad habit. This is one of the biggest mistakes people make when trying to change a bad habit – they don’t regard the current positive impact that the bad habit has. Now, this positive impact might be incredibly short-term and not at all healthy, but there will still be a reward. The straightforward example of drug abuse is a clear example of this – short-term positive feelings, offset by negative medium and long term ones. You can feel “good,” “relaxed,” and “less anxious” for the next few hours if you take the drug, but sacrifice health and positive emotions later.
Whatever positives you are currently getting from a bad habit, recognize them and then try to replace them in another way. For example, if you currently eat unhealthily because it feels pleasurable and helps you to relax, you might consider going to a spa once a week, because this will also help you to relax and will feel good physically. Finding the rewards your bad habits have and then replacing them with good habits is a great way to undermine the power of the bad habit. In the above example, by going to a spa once a week your overall levels of relaxation and sense of pleasure in your life will increase, so there will be less of a gap to be made up by comfort eating.
Hopefully, after a few weeks of going to the spa, you would want unhealthy food less, or at least find it easier to do it less, because you are getting the rewards it offers elsewhere. If you still feel a little stressed and in need of comfort, you might then add in other habits like going to the cinema with a friend, or perhaps playing your favorite video game a couple of times a week, or whatever feels good and helps you to relax. These acts should further help to undermine the need for comfort eating, as the rewards that it provides are already being fulfilled in your life. Recognizing the triggers and rewards that you experience will require a high level of awareness in general. This is an excellent thing in itself and can be further fostered by good habits, such as journaling and meditating. These acts will help you feel more in control and more aware of your mind and feelings, which will increase your awareness of the triggers and rewards of your habits. Often, the trigger and the reward will be interconnected, so don’t try to understand them in isolation. It will be easier to understand your habits if you look at both. For example, you might watch TV when you feel bored, and you feel stimulated and less bored when you watch TV. Feeling bored is the trigger, and being entertained / less bored is the reward you get. In this example, the answer is simple: if you want to watch less TV, you need to find something that you want to do that is interesting/ exciting/ compelling. The trigger and the reward are clearly intertwined here. This example is relatively straightforward; unfortunately, analyzing your own habits won’t always be as simple as this example.