Consuming junk food, smoking cigarettes, drinking excessively, and watching too much television can all be categorized as habits damaging to one’s health. It’s very easy to develop routines in your life that lead to continued indulging in these habits, and breaking them is much easier said than done. However, there are strategies you can implement to overcome these mental vices.

First, recognize that you take part in an unhealthy habit, whatever that may be. There’s a good chance your habit follows a specific pattern. Figure out what may trigger this habit. If you struggle with eating unhealthy foods, simply feeling hungry may immediately make you think of the most delicious yet caloric meal you can find. Train yourself to think differently upon feeling hunger. You may want to form a new trigger to change your thought process.

If you smoke cigarettes when you drink for example, avoid going to the bar or consuming alcohol entirely. If you regularly stop at a fast food restaurant on your commute home, take a different route. Avoiding these bad habit triggers is a blunt, yet reasonably effective strategy to try and break them.

Once you are taking part in the bad habit, you’ll often feel a sense of reward during. This makes it all the more difficult to break. Rather than trying to rid of the habit entirely, seek to replace it. A common example of this is when you feel the need to smoke a cigarette, chew a piece of gum instead. Obviously, nicotine addiction is much more serious than biting your nails, but the idea is to train your mind to crave other, healthier options.

You don’t have to go on this journey alone. If a friend or loved one takes part in a similar bad habit, work together toward the both of you breaking it. Having someone other than yourself to regulate your behavior can be extremely helpful, and you can reciprocate. It provides an additional source of motivation for both parties. With that said, avoid toxic relationships, as they can dramatically worsen, and even create new unhealthy habits.

Don’t punish yourself if you cave and indulge in the bad habit after successfully avoiding it. It happens to all of us. Relapsing occurs frequently in one way or another, and it is in no way an indication of failure. To help, plan for you to slip up every now and then. This can help you get back on track quickly, and return to a healthier life without that habit consuming it.