Bad habits are hard to kick, at least in part because they involve the brain's tendency to automate such oft-repeated behaviors — it's the otherwise useful brain function that allows you to brush your teeth or drive down a familiar road without having to consciously remember every step involved. And it's the same reason why you might find yourself lighting up a cigarette, eating a cookie or having a vodka martini before you even realize you've decided to do so.
In terms of changing habits, that means that you need to analyze carefully in advance when, where and why you are most likely to indulge in your habit. Often, triggers include emotional stress, social anxiety or mental associations between certain situations and your habit. "Look at how and when you smoke — those are the times you're going to want a cigarette. Those are the times that will trip you up. Make major plans for what to do differently in those situations. That kind of problem solving is key," says Kahler.
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