Before you try and change any ritual habits you should really understand them. This is called knowing your enemy. If you have not already done so then you need to read the page before here called "6 Rituals and Checking Tips". Once you understand the nature of the beast, and are no longer fearful of it, then that is the time to return here and see if the time is right for you to apply any of these tips to help you challenge and break your habits.
The first thing to remember is that when you try to change something that stops you feeling bad, then the first thing that will happen is that the anxious feelings will get worse. You need to know this now so that you are not afraid of that feeling. Yes, your heart will beat faster. Your agitation will increase. This is just because you have these habits to make you feel less stressed; by not doing them your anxiousness will increase at first. But what is important to understand is that if you can stick with the change for a while, that anxious feeling will plateau and then drop completely to a much lower level. Look at the graph above. So before you try to make any change you need to ask yourself if that is a price worth paying. Can I tolerate some brief added discomfort for longer term gain? Is now the right time?
In order to change any habit, even a benign one, you need to make yourself aware of the circumstances in which you were doing it. What triggers your behaviour? Does it happen at certain times of day? Or in certain locations? Are there times during the day where you do not feel the urge to carry out these habits? Is it when you are under pressure? Do as good an analysis as you can of the circumstances and triggers. If you find that your habits do not have obvious triggers then that is also important information
Make a clear plan. Remember it will take time and each step will not be successful first time. But practice makes perfect. Think about the problem as one to be conquered over a number of stages. Are there some aspects to your habit that would be easier to stop than others? Could you shorten the time involved? Or delay starting? Or gradually, gradually change your behaviour over time? This, after all, is how the habit developed in the first place so do so now in reverse. (Find some additional useful tips on how to create an action plan on the page called "6 Making Changes Tips").
If you think you can break the habit into a number of different aspects or times, then take one at a time, starting with the easiest, and focus on changing that. Even if all you do at first is take an extra 5 or 10 minutes before you carry out the habit, that would be progress and a first step. Learn to sit with the discomfort until the feeling passes, and it will pass if you can last long enough. Or perhaps you can cut out even one repetition. Remind yourself in advance that doing so will make you feel worse at first, but this is normal. It is like giving up the habit of smoking. You would not expect a person to feel good when they first try to give up. The urge to give in and have a cigarette is as powerful and similar as the urge to give in to a ritual habit you have developed.
Keep in mind the graph above. The ritual habits you have developed are nothing more than comforting habits aimed at keeping anxiousness at bay. Maybe the habits have now become the source of the anxiety. You may think "I must do them to stop me feeling anxious". But remember that you are the one in control. Do not be afraid of yourself. Keep a cool head and tackle your plan one step at a time. If at first you don't succeed then just try again. Eventually it will work. These habits can sometimes be very powerful so don't worry if you don't find it easy to overcome them at first. Understanding the problem and persisting with the plan will eventually pay off.
Learning to control your physical response can help you make a successful habit change. Learn to distract yourself even briefly from your habit so that you can resist. See tips on both of these techniques in the "Relaxation Tips" and "Distraction" pages.
Sometimes checking habits can cause you to lose self esteem and self worth. It can be demoralising to feel you are controlled by these habits and not the other way around. That can lead to feelings of low mood. It might be helpful to check out the mood tips pages.