Looking to break your bad habits? Get motivated by checking out these surprising benefits of kicking your worst habits and learn how best to break them.

1. Improved memory by quitting smoking

Quitting smoking has many well know advantages, but one of it’s lesser known benefits is improved memory function. Researchers at Northumbria University, found that smoking causes people to lose one third of their everyday memory. In the study it was found that smokers performed much worse in the memory tasks they were asked to do than non-smokers. The research also discovered that quitting smoking restored the ability to recollect information – providing people with a huge additional reason to quit.

2. Be smarter through reduced sugar intake

While too much sugar is known to be bad for our health, research suggests it may also be affecting our ability to think clearly. Researchers at the University of California Los Angeles carried out a study involving rats who were fed a diet containing high-fructose corn syrup. As a result of the high sugar diet fed to them, the rats were less able to remember their way out of a maze they had previously been trained to find their way out of. The conclusions of the researchers were that sugar disrupted the ability of the rats to think clearly, and effectively this same high sugar diet could have the same impact on human brains.

3. Longer lifespan by watching less TV

Watching too much television could shorten your lifespan. According to researchers from the University of Queensland you may shorten your lifespan by as much as 22 minutes for every hour you spend in front of the box. Given the number of hours many of us spend in front of the TV, reducing your viewing hours could potentially add significant time onto your lifespan.

4. Reduced wrinkles by cutting the sweet treats

Despite your best attempts to avoid premature ageing, it could be that your sweet tooth is responsible for your wrinkles . Tasty sweet treats are thought to be prime culprits, along with sun exposure and smoking when it comes to causing wrinkles. Scientists suggest that when blood sugar levels are elevated through eating sugary foods, this starts a process of glycation which hardens the normally springy the collagen in your skin, leading to wrinkles and sagging skin. By reducing your sugar intake you could well be looking after your skin as well as your waistline.

5. Reduced risk of dementia by avoiding negative emotions

If you are always stressing out, sometimes unnecessarily so, then it could be that your are impacting on your brain health. Researchers at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago found that those who regularly experienced ‘negative emotions’ such as worry and anger were at greater risk of dementia. In order to avoid such a negative impact on your health, embrace strategies such as counselling or relaxation techniques to improve the quality of your life in the short and long term.

6. Save big money by giving up or reducing alcohol intake

The health benefits of quitting drink are obvious, but by cutting out alcohol can also have a major impact on your finances, and could even save you a five figure sum over the course of your lifetime.

Studies from around the globe have estimated the impact that alcohol can have on your pocket. Research suggests the average American spends around $100 a month on drink, a typical Australian spends just over $1,600 per year, while the average Brit will spend over £58,000 on alcohol during their lifetime. Putting all that money to better use should be the motivation you need to quit or at least reduce your alcohol intake.

7. Be happier by ditching junk food

Junk food might provide you with short-term satisfaction but in the long-term it may not be doing much for your general happiness. Research published in the Public Health Nutrition Journal revealed that those who eat fast food regularly are 51 per cent more likely to develop depression. Next time you are thinking of tucking into that pizza or greasy kebab, just remember it could be giving you the fast food blues. Avoiding junk food could just well be the key to happiness.

8. Stay slim by getting more sleep

Believe it or not, but getting more sleep could help with weight management. Research suggests that getting more sleep could help your waistline. A team of researchers at the University of Washington identified a link between getting less than seven hours sleep a night and higher body weight. They also found that the more you sleep , the less impact the obesity gene has on your weight.

9. Better habits result from getting active

Getting active has a positive impact on your general health and fitness, and can also lead to improvements in other areas of your life. A study of marathon runners who trained regularly identified a link between regular exercise and improvements in work and other areas of life, such as goal-setting, organisation and discipline. Getting active can also lead to people kicking other bad habit; a report in the Archives of Internal Medicine showed that those who smoked but also exercised were two times likely to kick the habit and stay clear of cigarettes than non-exercisers.  

10. Career advancement by curbing your social media activity

Studies suggest that keeping your social media pages habit under control could help you to land that job of your dreams. A study by Career Builder found that 37 per cent of employers from various industries checked prospective employees’ social media pages while considering them the job. Around one third of these said they had been dissuaded from hiring people because their social media pages gave a poor impression of them or their skills.

So, how do you break those bad habits then?

Armed with this knowledge that breaking a number of bad habits can actually be good for you, you probably now want to know how to stop them. For sure, changing habits is not easy, but to ensure your success and make the process a little less painless, check out these tips:

1. Take it one bad habit in turn

It’s possible you may have multiple bad habits you are keen to ditch, but it is important that you don’t try to tackle them all at the same time. A more realistic approach is to take them one by one, so don’t try and give up smoking, drinking and chocolate all in the same week! Instead, try and ascertain which bad habit you think you should prioritise and tackle that first.

2. Tackle it day by day

Don’t set out with the mindset that you are never going to repeat your habit ever again as that thought of long-term denial can be more than daunting.

Instead try taking it day by day and tell yourself that you’ll get to the end of the day avoiding your habit. Concentrating on beating your habit one day at a time makes it seem less daunting, and every day you manage should inspire you to do the same the next day. Try keeping a tally each day of your success, marking occasion on a calendar when you have managed to avoid breaking your habit, and this should provide extra motivation.  

3. Be open with your quit plans

Don’t keep your plan to ditch a habit to yourself. Instead, tell someone about it so that you at least have another person to be answerable to. Giving in to a craving is much easier when there’s not a single person there to have to have to front up to for your moment of weakness. Additionally, you could document your progress in an online blog, providing you with additional reason to resist temptation knowing that you’d have to fess up about it publicly in your blog.

4. Break a habit at the same time as someone else

There’s nothing better if you are trying to break a habit than to do it at the same time as someone else. You’ll be great support for one another and won’t want to fail for fear of letting the other person down. With another person around aiming to break the same habit as you will mean that you each know what the other is going through and you’ll be able to have a moan to each other about how difficult it is!

5. Remove temptation

Going in utterly convinced of your ability to break a habit could be considered overconfidence. Don’t rely on your ability to resist your habit; instead remove temptation in order to to be ready for those moments where your resolve starts to weaken. Empty the house of those tempting treats, cigarettes, alcohol or whatever it is you are trying to avoid. If possible, try and stay away from stressful or social situations which might be a trigger for you to fall into bad habits again.

6. Substitute good habits for bad ones

To fill the gaping hole made by avoiding a previous habit, try finding a substitute to help fill the void. Try swapping junk food for healthy snacks, try replacing time in the pub or watching TV by getting involved a new sport, or walk that short distance to work rather than driving. By occupying your time with other things will reduce your opportunity for temptation.

7. Set regular habit reminders

Sometimes bad habits are so entrenched that you often don’t realise you are doing it. To avoid slipping-ups, set reminders to prompt you to maintain good habits. You could set you phone to prompt you every hour to sit up straight and not slouch, you could leave notes on your computer to remind you to take regular breaks from your screen, or you could pin a motivational picture to the fridge to remind you not to pig out.  Any prompt that keep you on track is a good thing.

8. Reward yourself

Mark each significant success with a reward. It could be something as simple as a trip to the movies after going a whole week without a cigarette, or you might want to reward yourself with a relaxing bath each day you go without giving in to your habit. By arranging small rewards can help with motivation, especially if you are failing to focus on the long term benefits you will get from breaking your bad habit.

9. Be positive in the face of setbacks

Setbacks happen, but it’s how you respond that is important. One small moment of weakness shouldn’t ruin all your hard work, so don’t get down if you have lapse. Just because you caved in and had a jumbo sized piece of chocolate cake does not automatically mean that you will pig out in the same way again. Get back on it and don’t dwell on past mistakes. You know you can do it!

10. Main motivation reminder

There’s little point in trying to break a habit just because you think should, as your motivation will start to waver. With a genuine reason for kicking your habit – such as being healthier so you can be around for your family – will help you keep going. Regular reminders of the main reason for breaking your habit will help bolster your resolve and keep you strong in those moments of temptation.