Monday, March 12, 2012


a. A recurrent, often unconscious pattern of behavior that is acquired through frequent repetition.
b. An established disposition of the mind or character.

Good news: Habits can be good. Bad news: Habits can also be bad (oh so bad;). I need to break a habit (ok, maybe habit"S", but let's focus on one at a time or you'll have to lock me away for awhile). It's not easy to break habits. That part in the definition about frequent repetition makes breaking habits incredibly difficult because they become so ingrained after all that repetition. So I set out on a little investigation to try to figure out how to break this habit of mine. Let me share what I learned, and no, it's not from Sesame Street this time.

 According to this article the first step is to figure out what is so great about this habit....what are you getting out of it?? 
Okay, so let me tell you the "habit" I am working on breaking, and trust me it takes a lot of courage to say this out loud (because now I'll have to be held accountable....good thing....right? Yikes) because of some health challenges I need to stop drinking alcohol for awhile. The only alcohol that is difficult for me to stop drinking is wine. Oh, how I love that full bodied, red, warm blanket in a glass, but alas, it doesn't love me. My body doesn't process it well and my digestive disorder gets worse if I drink more than 1, yes 1, glass and at this point I think even 1 glass is doing some damage....sad but true. Now hopefully I will heal completely and will be able to enjoy a glass occasionally, but until then I must put it on a very high shelf (and hide the ladder). 
Let's take a look back at the first step to break a habit....what I get out of my wine habit is relaxation.  And let me tell you, they don't call it "Happy Hour" for nothing.  As a matter of fact, I'm pretty sure they created it for work at home moms who are staring at the clock at 10 am 4 pm wondering if that is an acceptable time to pour a glass.
The next step, according to this same article, is to ask yourself, "What's the trade off?"  In other words, what make this "bad habit" so bad?  Well, for me it is health related and quite honestly sometimes "Happy Hour" is followed by "Super Grumpy Hour," so my family is affected, not only by the health repercussions that result in pain and loss of energy but also by my grumpy mood.

Okay, let's get down to the nitty do we change?? What are the steps we can take to successfully squash a bad habit and bloom into our true happy, healthy selves?
Tell people that you are trying to break the habit and that you could sincerely use their support. Here's an idea...announce it on a blog for the whole world to read...oh wait, that's me, ha....actually, it's perfect.  You will know when you are ready to make a change and when you are you have to go big and go brave.

Write about it, paint about it....get it out.
I really love to Art Journal.  This is a visual way to get emotions out and onto the substrate of your choice.  I usually use watercolor paper so I can use all sorts of materials....paint, ink, collage, graphite, pastels, etc.  My journal pages are not always pretty or inspiring.  Sometimes they are painful and real.

But I feel much better after I get my emotions out.  Keeping painful emotions bottled up inside your body will cause illness, despair and even more bad habits.  Finding a healthy way to get your emotions out, whether it be art, or exercise, or talking to someone, or all of the above, will give you such relief and the ability to focus on creating wellness in your life.  It is also helpful to write about (or paint or draw or sew, etc.) how awful this bad habit makes you feel and how amazing you are going to feel when this bad habit is gone!!!

Distance yourself from temptation.
So basically don't do what I did, which was to go have a picnic with my friends at a winery.  Oh yes I did.
But you know what, I was fine.  I was feeling determined.  I had already discussed my goal of not drinking so I can heal, with my husband and I was feeling oh so strong (and I did not have even one little sip...woo hoo).  But I don't recommend doing this on a regular basis.  I think you really have to check in with yourself and be honest about where you are on the strong/vulnerable continuum.  There have been times when I have said "no" to parties (and boy do I love a good party) because I just knew I would eat every dessert available and would push it way past my 1 glass of wine safety zone.  So it's ok to not go to the mall with your friends when you don't have the money.  It's okay to say, "No, I just can't meet you at The Cheesecake Factory tonight," when you are trying to lose a few pounds.  Stay home, get those comfy clothes on and indulge in that favorite show that no one else understands (can you say Golden Girls? oh, or my favorite....Murder She Wrote?).  The people that truly love you will not pressure you and will support you when you tell them that you are trying so hard to kick this bad habit to the curb (remember the first step....tell people what you are working on so they can support you).

This step is VERY important, so if you started to tune out a little and think about what you need to get at the store, tune back in now.  You will have the greatest chance of success breaking your bad habit if you find a satisfying, healthier good habit to stand in it's place.  But it has to be something that you truly enjoy that will satisfy the reason you developed the bad habit in the first place.  So if you like to eat Nutella (wipe the drool off your chin right now;) when you are bored or feeling stressed then you can not tell yourself that you will eat carrots instead of Nutella when the boring or stressful situation presents itself.  Those two things are way too wide apart on the gratification continuum.  So, if you love pretzels or low fat frozen yogurt then start there (oh, and not buying the Nutella at the store will help too, wink, wink).

Here is my glass from our picnic at the winery.  Looks like I slipped up, right?  Looks like it, but I didn't....that's iced tea.  It was a warm, sunny day and my tea tasted great, probably even better out of the wine glass ;)  I also love to do art (as I think you know) so at the end of the day when I really want that glass of wine, I make some tea and pull out my small watercolor tablet and sit out front on the stoop drawing while my kids play outside.....that relaxes me, and I love it so it's a substitution that just might work.

30 Days.
I've read a few different places where it has said that in 30 days you can break a habit.  So, let's do it for 30 days.  Keep track and do it in a way that is fun and feels good.  Put up colorful sticky notes.  Use your favorite color on a white board.  Decorate a "Way To Go" jar and everyday put in a positive note of celebration for making it through another day.  I have a GIANT chalkboard canvas that I am writing my days on with different colored chalk and I think on some of the days I will draw pictures.
Bottom line.....YOU ARE WORTH IT!!!!  It is your choice.  Choose to be open and honest with yourself and to take control of your life and most importantly your health.  When you are happy and healthy, everyone benefits.
Be Well.


  1. Great post, Harmony! There are several habits that I would like to start, and somehow always manage to not.. like just drinking enough water in the day. I always think of something else to do instead. I like your idea of keeping track. I'm not committing now, but I am tempted to try it.

  2. Just testing here because someone mentioned they couldn't comment ;)