Making or Breaking a Habit During the Summer

Is there any better time for a college student to make or break a habit than the summer? Yes, everyone usually has some obligations, like work, an internship or hanging out with your friends that you haven’t seen in months, but with summer comes just a little more free time than during the semester. That free time is what you can use in order to make or break a habit. It’s not a necessity to have the free time, but it’s a perfect opportunity to use it.

Now, according to Blackmores, “habits are formed out of repetitive actions that slip into your daily routines without any thought.” Developing a habit or getting rid of one is difficult, and most often you’ll break a bad habit by making a better one. If you ask around, you’ll probably hear that getting rid of a bad habit takes around a month right? That’s not exactly true, sorry to break it to you.

In actuality, a recent study showed that the time span is somewhere around 66 days, according to an article on PsychologyToday. Yes, you read that right, 66. I know—I was devastated too, but don’t give up hope. Even if the time span was 66 days in the study, it tends to vary for everyone. So first things first, don’t focus completely on the numbers. You need to focus on yourself.

If you want to break a HUGE, BAD habit, of course it will take longer than let’s say. . .getting yourself to start making your bed, so don’t get discouraged if you’re not making much progress all that quickly.

Now, here is what the free time is for: planning and dedication.

Once you break your bad habit for good, it’s gone—poof! (And yes, you can always fall back into a bad habit, but we’ll get to that.) And once you form a new habit, it blends right into your schedule! But the preparation for making or breaking? It takes some time.

So the free time you have during summer is going to go towards your habit. It can be anything. Jogging more, cooking at home instead of going out, stopping yourself from watching so much TV, the list goes on and on. No matter what it is, you’ll need to plan and prep. So get a calendar, mark a start point and a rough “end” point, because again, the time span is different for everyone. Then after that’s done, commit yourself to a few ways to make or break the habit.

For example, if you want to cook at home more? One way to do so is by having friends over your place and cooking for them instead of eating out. Someone wants to go out but you’veve already been out two times this week? Cook at home! It doesn’t have to be grand, it can be burgers and hot dogs on the grill. The important part is that you’re committed to it..

That leads to the next part, dedication. It’s so difficult to make or break a habit because a bad habit is often something you’ve developed to comfort you—even if it’s not the best for you.  A good habit is something you want to achieve but don’t possess the current motivation to do so. Unfortunately, there’s no easy remedy for this. Gritting your teeth,hating your life and getting angry is probably going to happen, whether it’s good or bad, but there are ways to keep moving forward.

Create a reward system and practice a lot of mindfulness, but beware, the reward systems have to be tailored to your habit. So, if you want to practice yoga on a daily basis, treating yourself to an episode of that television show you’re binge watching after you’ve done the yoga would be a perfect reward! But if you want to stop watching TV all the time, that wouldn’t be so great. In that case, treating yourself to a movie after going one or two days without watching hours of television would be better suited.

Now, when you read mindfulness, I’m sure a lot of people assumed the regular “you can do this!” or “just think about life after you broke that habit,” but it’s not that. Mindfulness means to be present in the moment, aware of yourself, and not concerned with the past or future. Just try to apply that to the process of making or breaking a habit. Think about getting ready to go for a jog. You don’t want to do it, you’re tired or bored or whatever. Well, you’re in the moment and remember, you planned to have this time of the day jogging, so what else do you have to do? Nothing, so you might as well jog. There’s nothing to consider in that moment if you’re mindful of it. There’s nothing else planned for that time, so don’t consider what else you could be doing because being mindful means being in the moment. So seriously, tell me, what else is there to do? See what I mean? There you have it.

Be mindful, plan it out, stay dedicated and reward yourself for your hard work. Use that extra time wisely collegiettes, you’ve got this.

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