It is a few weeks since 1st January and many New Year’s resolutions have, almost certainly, fallen through. I felt it might be useful for some to look at handling addiction effectively. In particular what are the keys to changing habits and dealing with cravings?
Addictions can range from serious drug addictions to phone addictions, from alcohol dependence to gambling to a food craving. We can even become addicted to other people or situations that we find ourselves in. For many people, they struggle with changing habits as a result of their need or craving to engage in the old behaviour or pattern.
So, what are some essential elements to overcoming addictions and changing habits? Well here are some tips and strategies that might prove useful:
- UNDERSTAND THE CHEMISTRY
I always found understanding what is going on inside my head to be helpful in fighting the addiction. Knowing that my brain is simply craving some chemicals which it is missing makes me feel more able to handle it. I simply understand why I feel this way rather than focusing on anything else.
- PROMISE YOURSELF TO A TIMEFRAME
Give yourself a timeframe before even questioning or checking in with things. Give yourself a specific date and a specific time when you will re-evaluate everything before considering giving in to the craving.
- PLAY OUT THE BAD SCENARIO
Run a movie in your mind of what will keep happening if you continue to engage in the old behaviour. See how awful everything will be as you continue to do it. Really make it as vivid as possible.
- PLAY OUT THE GOOD FUTURE
See yourself experiencing but then handling successfully all of the cravings and bad feelings and see yourself becoming stronger and happier in the future as you do so.
- PREPARE FOR THE TOUGH TIMES
Prepare some effective strategies and plan to engage in these strategies whenever you find yourself facing the toughest times.
- HANDLING THE CUES
There will be certain cues, associations or anchors that you might have to various things in your life. Try to cut out whichever of these cues you can. For the ones you cannot cut out, do what you can to build new memories and new associations to them.
- FOCUS ON NEW GOALS
It is important to focus on new goals in other areas of your life so you are finding ways of creating more dopamine given that beating addictions affects this system as well.
- HOLD YOURSELF ACCOUNTABLE
Reach out to people who can help you. Sometimes a professional and sometimes a friend who you can call and talk to whenever you feel tempted.
- REMEMBER THE BAD
Remind yourself of all the worst experiences you have had while engaging in the old behaviour as a reason why you quit.
- FOCUS ON THE NEW FUTURE
Focus on the future that you want to achieve in all aspects of life and imagine yourself succeeding in building this future while engaging in new behaviours and habits.
Addictions are not easy to fight and there are plenty more techniques, suggestions and ideas that can help you. But hopefully, some of these will help you to get free or stay free of behaviours and cravings that are not good for you. Best of luck.
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