Bad habits are like a comfortable bed-easy to get into, but very hard to get out of! Everyone has a bad habit that they can work on kicking. Take a second and think about yours.

Smoking, leaning on alcohol for stress relief, and continuing toxic relationships are more serious bad habits that take hard work and dedication to break. Cracking your knuckles, constantly checking your phone, and biting your nails are smaller habits that still take a significant amount of work to kick. Big or small, these bad habits can profoundly affect both your physical and mental health.

Five steps to break your bad habits

Try following these five steps to break your bad habits and increase your overall health and wellbeing.

First, you must acknowledge that you have a bad habit. Instead of getting defensive about it or denying it, try to determine what triggers your behavior so you can work on controlling it. When bad habits allow you to avoid a larger problem, it can be extremely difficult to face the trigger. However, taking the first step and pinpointing exactly what causes your bad habit is essential to learning how to control it.

Next, work to eliminate the triggers. Whether this means facing a harsh truth or simply refraining from buying junk food, eliminating the triggers for your bad habit will help you break the habit.

Third, ask for support. Sharing your goals with someone keeps you accountable.

Fourth, make an effort to replace the bad habits with healthier habits. Instead of reaching for a cigarette, chew a piece of gum.

Last, reward yourself for good behavior. Any progress is worth celebrating, but make sure celebrating does not entail a relapse. For example, instead of indulging in a drink of alcohol you’ve been limiting, buy yourself a new outfit or tickets to a sports game you’ve been wanting to attend.

Bad habits and Kidney damage

Like bad habits, kidney damage doesn’t happen overnight. It is a constant, steady process that takes place over several years as bad habits accumulate and turn into bad lifestyles. Often times, these habits are related to lazy and inadequate treatment of other diseases. Unhealthy habits spread and multiply and lead to other harmful habits, creating an extremely unhealthy overall lifestyle and leading to a higher risk for disease.

A recent study found that subjects with more than 3 bad habits or unhealthy lifestyles were more than 300% more likely to develop CKD than those with no bad habits.

So, the more bad habits you have, the worse they get, and the more likely they are to spiral into an unhealthy lifestyle. Use the five steps we outlined above to help you identify your bad habits and end them once and for all!