How to Break Bad Habits
Middle-School flashback: You're slouched in your chair, biting your nails and yakking to Susan about Katie—that is, until Mrs. Anderson yells, "Girls!" Fast-forward to last night: You're slouched at your kitchen counter, frowning at your chewed cuticles and yakking on your cell phone to Susan about Katie. Where's Mrs. Anderson now?
Bad habits afflict us all. But whether your particular fixation is merely annoying, wastes time, or could actually hurt someone (like poor, long-suffering Katie), there are tricks and techniques to nip it in the bud. Of course, serious habitual behaviors might require years—and even some bona fide therapy sessions—to break. But psychiatrists, psychologists, and cognitive therapists agree that recognition is the first step. So you're already on the road to recovery and a lifetime of good posture, manicures, and trusting friendships.
The Habit: Fidgeting
Why you do it: You have excess energy, perhaps from the surge in adrenaline caused by consuming too much caffeine or sugar, and it has to come out somehow. Just ask that pen you keep clicking.
How to stop: If you’re a large-triple-mocha drinker, cut back. To control energy peaks and troughs, it’s also important to get enough exercise and sleep. And try converting the movement of your hands and legs into isometric exercises: Put your hands in your lap and concentrate on gently pushing your palms together. For your legs, place both feet flat on the floor and then push down. Do these exercises until the need to fidget subsides.