How long does it take to break a habit?

The timing depends a lot on you personally.

From brushing our teeth daily to our 11am coffee routine, we all have dozens of routines in our daily routine. Some are very useful, for example, hitting the gym weekly, while others are the opposite, such as smoking a pack of cigarettes a day, harassing the phone numbers of food delivery stores, etc.

Because we perceive our habits as helpful or harmful, we will often try to mold them accordingly.

How long does it take to break a habit?
The time it takes to form a habit is actually not so obvious.

There’s no shortage of apps developed to help you form habits, and many of them are built around the assumed 21-day required period.

This number originates from a widely famous 1960 book called Psycho-Cybernetics (published in Vietnam under the title Change for Success ) by Maxwell Maltz, a plastic surgeon, receiving found that his patients seemed to take about 21 days to get used to their new faces.

However, according to a 2009 study, the time it takes to form a habit is actually not so clear.

Researchers from University College London examined the new habits of 96 people over a 12-week period and found that the average time it took to actually form a new habit was 66 days ; moreover, this time varies from person to person, from 18 to 254 days.

The message here is that if you want to develop a new behavior, it will take at least two months, and you shouldn’t despair if it’s been three weeks and things still aren’t working out – because for many people, That amount of time is simply not enough. Be patient with it longer, and you will have a new habit that eats into your subconscious mind, without thinking.

But what about trying to break an unwanted habit?

How long does it take to break a habit?
There is no fixed time frame for breaking a habit.

It turns out that two things – forming and breaking a habit are quite closely related.

As psychologist Timothy Pychyl explains, it’s like two sides of the same coin: “Breaking a habit also means establishing a new habit, a superior response. The old habit. or the old response pattern is still there (a neuronal response pattern in the brain), but will be less dominant (less powerful)”.

Neuroscientist Elliot Berkman said: “It’s much easier to start doing something new than to stop doing something that’s habitual without a new behavior replacing it. That’s why the Smoking cessation aids such as nicotine gum or inhalers tend to be more effective than nicotine patches.”

Experts agree that there is no fixed time frame for breaking a habit and the right formula would be a combination of personality, motivation, circumstances and habits in question.

“Those who want to break their habits for reasons that align with their personal values change their behavior more quickly than those who do it for external reasons such as pressure from others,” Berkman said. speak.

According to psychology professor Susan Krauss Whitbourne, sometimes a habit can be broken quickly : “In severe cases, the habit can be broken immediately, such as if you get very sick while you’re at it. inhaling cigarette smoke or almost getting hit by a bus while texting and walking” . But in most cases, it will take longer than that, and you should wait at least two months to see results.

To successfully break a habit, you need to think about your strongest motivation , which will be the one that will guide you. Think of an “alternative behavior” for the habit, but make sure it’s a positive one, because replacing smoking with junk food doesn’t make any sense.

And be patient. The longer a habit has been with you, the longer it will take to break. “Perennial habits are really strong at the neurological level, so they’re a powerful determinant of behavior. The good news is that people can almost always do something else when they’re aware of the habit. get used to it and be motivated enough to change,” explains Berkman.

So be strong, you will make it.