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Why is it so hard to break a bad habit?


9,713 Questions Answered

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Many people deal with a nail-biting habit at some point in their lives. Some will go to great lengths to try to stop, employing strategies like dipping their hands in salt or wearing gloves. And while not all of us are nail-biters, most of us do have a habit we’d like to kick. So, what's the best way to break one? Explore how habits are formed, and discover tips on how to manage these behaviors.

Additional Resources for you to Explore

Want to learn more about the science of habit formation? Take a look at this newsletter from the National Institutes of Health that explains some of the research conducted in this realm of neuroscience. Repetition has been found to play a key role in the development of both good and bad habits. However, pleasure-based habits are the ones that are most difficult to break because the dopamine released in the brain during these activities makes your body crave them even more. Read here for a more in-depth look into the brain's complex pleasure systems.

If you happen to be among the millions of people looking to break your most harmful habits, this Science Daily article offers advice on how to change your behaviors, based on the scientific findings of psychologist Wendy Wood. Or, if you'd simply rather feeling less alone in your hard-wired patterns, enjoy the results of these recent YouGov polls. You might be surprised (and comforted) to see just how many bad habits plague the average American.  

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Meet The Creators

  • Writer Shannon Odell
  • Director Sacha Beeley
  • Composer Carlos Magaña Bru, cAMP Studio
  • Sound Designer Nirana Singh, cAMP Studio
  • Director of Production Gerta Xhelo
  • Produced by Abdallah Ewis, Anna Bechtol
  • Editorial Director Alex Rosenthal
  • Editorial Producer Dan Kwartler
  • Fact-Checker Charles Wallace

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