The time it takes to break a habit is not 21 days as some experts believe, research suggests

How long you work on breaking a bad habit before giving up depends on individuals

We all have daily habits, some include washing your face or brushing your teeth but others can be bad, like smoking or overeating. How long does it take to actually break some of our bad habits?

With the new year, several people will attempt to break some of their worst habits. A long-time belief has been that it takes 21 days to break a habit or form a good one.

That belief stemmed from a book from 1960 called, “Psycho Cybernetics” written by plastic surgeon Maxwell Malts, who said he noticed that it took about 21 days for patients to get used to their new faces after plastic surgery.

However, according to a more recent study from University College London, the time it takes to break a new habit isn’t as clear cut as 21 days.

Researchers examined the new habits of 96 people over the space of 12 weeks and found that the average time it takes for a new habit to stick is actually 66 days.

Also individual times varied from 18 days to 254 days, so, if you want to develop a new behavior, it will take at least two months and don’t fret if three weeks doesn’t do the trick.

But stick with your new habit for longer than two months and you’ll end up with a habit you can keep without having to think about it.

About the Author

Sarah Acosta is a weekend Good Morning San Antonio anchor and a general assignments reporter at KSAT12. She joined the news team in April 2018 as a morning reporter for GMSA and is a native South Texan.

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