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Jan 7, 2008

Kicking the Habit

Many bad habits are a way to relieve stress, and it may help to take yoga, meditate, or find other ways to relax. For deep-rooted anxiety or if the habit causes emotional distress, you should talk to a health-care professional. To break common unhealthy habits, start with these tips.

1. Smoking. Although smoking is one of the hardest habits to break, you can successfully quit by following these five steps, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services:

1.) Set a quit date.
2.) Get support.
3.) Learn new skills and behaviors.
4.) Get medication, and use it correctly.
5.) Be prepared for relapse or difficult situations.

2. Biting your nails. Some people claim that getting a manicure and having nicely painted nails is enough motivation to get them to stop. Others say it helps to chew on candy or gum or to carry a nail file.

3. Cracking your knuckles. Like biting your nails, this habit is usually done when you’re nervous. Find something else to do with your hands, like squeezing a stress ball or stretching silly putty.

4. Chewing on pens or pencils. In addition to chewing gum or candy, or keeping your hands busy with a stress ball, think about the germs you put in your mouth every time you chew on a pen.

5. Staying up too late. If you have trouble falling asleep at night, you may need to cut back on or eliminate caffeine in the afternoon or evening. When it’s time for bed, turn off the TV and the computer, and establish a calming bedtime routine.

6. Watching too much TV. The average American watches more than four hours of TV a night. Here are some ways to cut back:

1.) Turn it off during dinner.
2.) Take the TV out of your bedroom.
3.) Set a limit on the amount of time you spend watching shows (say, 10 hours a week).
4.) Find an alternative to TV, such as going for a walk after dinner, gardening, or painting.