This Is the Easiest Way to Break a Bad Habit, According to a Psychologist



Though it doesn't exactly bode well for my looming deadline, it's rather pertinent that as I write this, I'm searching for words through a soupy brain fog—all because I decided today was the day I'd finally break my caffeine habit. Six hours and two cups of coffee in (down from my usual five), I'm getting a firsthand look at how complex—and often, head-achingly difficult—unraveling our most concrete rituals can be.

Think about it: We often talk about the diligence required to establish a habit in the first place. In simplistic terms, we have to rewire our brains in order for an action to become a ritual, a process that requires consistency and some semblance of a reward. But I've noticed that this conversation often implies that "losing" the habit is all too easy. And while that may be somewhat true during the formation process, in reality, once the habit is established, we have to do more rewiring to convince our brains that we no longer need that ritual. And that's especially true for habits that feed heavily into the brain's reward system—like, say, regular caffeine consumption.

That's why going cold turkey is often unsustainable—it's an oversimplified solution to a pretty complex feedback loop. So how do we hack our own brains to disrupt the cycle? To find out more about the best way to break a habit, I spoke with New York–based psychologist Heather Silvestri, Ph.D. Find her pointers below.