Is your constant procrastinating starting to affect your productivity? Does binge eating leave you feeling guilty and hating yourself? Perhaps your obsession with social media or playing video games is starting to affect your family relationships. Whatever it is, a bad habit can become extremely debilitating – and over time, some habits can become serious addictions.
The Good news is that by rewiring your brain, you can regain control of your life and overcome your bad habits.
Rewiring the brain simply means training your brain’s neurotransmitters to stop responding to triggers that cause negative behaviors. Behaviors become habits when neural pathways are created in your brain when you consistently respond to a certain trigger. However, these neural pathways are not permanent. They can diminish and disappear altogether if replaced with new pathways.
The following three methods will explain how this can be done and will help you start rewiring your brain.
- Redirect your reward triggers with aerobics
When we satisfy our craving for pizza and ice cream, we feel good – at least for a while. Telling yourself that, “I have plenty of time to get it done later, you feel reassured and in control. Your brain is rewarding you for your binge eating and procrastination. It has learned that this behavior makes you feel good and therefore, is beneficial for you.
The brain rewards us by releasing dopamine, commonly known as the “feel-good” hormone. The best way to break a bad habit is to replace the negative behavior that releases dopamine with a positive one.
Several research studies have shown that aerobic exercise is one of the best triggers of dopamine release. Aerobic exercise floods your body with dopamine, giving you feelings of accomplishment and pleasure.
With regular aerobic exercise, you can shift your brain’s neural pathways so that you are rewarded for different behavior. This will make it easier to avoid negative habits and gradually overcome them altogether.
- Schedule daily tasks
Believe it or not, scheduling your daily tasks can regulate the release of dopamine by the brain. The trick is to make a daily to-do list with short tasks that can be accomplished and crossed off (break up longer tasks into two or three smaller steps).
The secret is to continue crossing off accomplished tasks throughout the day. The sense of pleasure and reward you feel will make it so much easier to not smoke that cigarette or give in to a craving – because you already feel rewarded!
Over time, your brain will learn to associate the accomplished tasks with something that is good for you. Moreover, accomplishing scheduled tasks throughout the day will keep dopamine flowing through your body so that you are less likely to engage in bad habits.
- Structure your Lifestyle
The Ultradian Rhythm is a process by which our brain releases dopamine at regular times throughout the day. You can regulate this process simply by structuring activities like mealtimes, exercise times and bedtimes to create a consistent cycle of dopamine release.
Research suggests that a structured lifestyle can regulate the release of dopamine at consistent times throughout the day, keeping you motivated to continue practicing healthier habits. By synchronizing healthy habits (regular, balanced meals and a healthy bedtime routine) with the release of dopamine, you are less likely to revisit old, negative habits.
ongoing research is beginning to confirm that the secret of overcoming bad habits lies in the feelings of pleasure they give us. Rewiring your brain to associate pleasurable feelings with positive habits is the secret to success.
Start using these three powerful tools today and give them some time to work. Remember, old habits die hard – but die they will if you are committed and persistent!