10 Hardest Habits to Break

Pre-wedding jitters or just a bad habit? Either way, nail-biting made our list. See more in our nail biting image gallery. Wavebreak Media/Thinkstock

If you don't smoke or do drugs you may think you're clear of bad habits. But what if you bite your nails or pop gum repeatedly? Bad habits aren't addictions. They're repetitive, negative behaviors that often start as coping mechanisms -- ways to reduce stress, relax and generally feel better. They aren't generally dangerous, just annoying to those around you.

So, how do you stop doing them? It's not so easy. Habits can trigger the release of dopamine, a chemical that's part of the brain's reward system. You get positive reinforcement from your brain for performing these habits, so that compels you to keep going. In addition, researchers have found that habits form familiar neural pathways in your brain. If a behavior is routine, this frees your brain to concentrate on other things [source: Contie].

That's great if you've gotten into the practice of meditating each evening, but it can be bad news if you're downing a pint of ice cream in front of the TV instead. We've got a list of 10 really hard habits to break and ways you might overcome them. And speaking of ice cream, let's kick off our look with one that plagues most of us.