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  • David Price

Breaking the habit

Everyone has a habit or two, some are good (reading each day), some are useful (waking up at the same time each day) and some are unwanted (biting your nails, burping). However, getting out of the routine of a habit is not as easy as you think. In order, to break unwanted habits, such as having a biscuit every time you make a cup of tea or coffee, it’s harder than you think.

So, in order to understand how to break a habit it’s useful to think about how habits form in the first place. There are lots of different theories, but a common one is the three R’s:-

  • Reminder – this is the cue or trigger.

  • Routine – this is the behaviour associated with the trigger.

  • Reward – this is trophy for carrying out the behaviour.

So, if we want to break a habit, it’s probably useful to role play the three R’s to make changes and adapt / change what we are doing, to get rid of unwanted habits.

Since we mentioned the compulsory biscuit with a cup of tea habit and a number of our readers have asked us to try and help them with this, let’s explore this - using the three R method.

  • The reminder - I need to get away from my desk or my working environment as I need a break, I am thirsty.

  • The Routine - make the tea or coffee

  • The Reward - a nice biscuit(s) to go with my hot drink

So now the habit is formed every time you make a hot drink your brain adds a biscuit to the equation. Originally you were just waiting for the kettle to boil and out of boredom you were pottering around the kitchen and stumbled on the biscuits. However, before you left your workspace you weren’t thinking of a treat, you just wanted a drink as you were thirsty.

Try and imagine a habit you would like to change and role play through the three R’s, to see how you could disrupt the process by doing something different to the reminder or the routine so you upset the reward process.


Hopefully, by role playing through the three R’s it will help to tackle something that is annoying you. During the various lockdown’s, it has been easy to form new habits due to changes in normal routines.

Bretts View

Early on, waking up early, was a right pain in the rear, but I have adjusted and would now consider it a positive habit...

David View

I can relate to the above, as I had a very stressful job, always feeling tired and the biscuit sugary rush was always welcome. During lock down my children said “the biscuits are for us and not you, besides you’ re on a diet and we’re hiding them ! Why don’t you eat nuts and raisins instead which are better for you.” I now also have a big bottle of water on my desk which helps to reduce the coffee and treat habit.

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