Habits To Curb Your Addictive Behaviours

Many of us have something that we’d like to change in our lives, but it can be pretty difficult to overcome the addictions or strong urges we need to in order to MAKE that change stick.

Those things in our lives that we want to quit, and the overwhelming urges we want to overcome can really be quite a variety of things personal to the individual:

  • addiction to drugs, alcohol, food, smoking

  • shopping, spending

  • sugary drinks/foods

  • nail chewing

How can we deal with these urges and addictions? It’s tough. I myself know that some days I am very anxious or mindless of an activity and will catch myself chewing away my nails.

I’ve found that it takes a combination of really digging into mindfulness and learning behavior-change strategies in order to combat these activities.

katarzyna urbanek of Unsplash - sparking a light on a cigarette
A spark can light a positive... Or a negative behaviour with ease.

How YOU can kick those urges in the butt.

I have come across a few strategies in my readings, and implemented them in different ways and amounts, depending on my needs. One easily recognisable strategy to implement is simply changing our environment, like so:

  1. Remove temptation from your environment. If you want to kick sugar - toss out ALL the junk food - you don’t need it.

  2. Remove yourself from the tempting environment, especially if you cannot remove the temptation itself - i.e. in the office kitchen area, avoid the snack fridge.

  3. Change the environment to make it less tempting - if you go out to a restaurant for dinner you could build accountability to steer clear of junk foods by offerign to pay for everyone’s meal if they catch you biting down on any deep fried treats.

If there aren’t any temptations around, or they’re hard to get to, the urges are much less strong. Control your environment, and you’ll have created great power in controlling your urge and addiction.

Another tactic that I have recently come across in my mindfullness pursuits is that of Urge Surfing, a technique developed by Psychologist and addictions-pioneer Alan Marlatt. In essence it is a mindfulness practice centered around leaning into the sensations of an urge or addictive trigger as they happen, pausing with them instead of acting automatically, and feeling through it. Becoming more mnidful of your brain and body in the process - give it a try!

I’d love to hear from you!

What urges are you trying to kick?

How can you change your environment for the better?

What do you notice when you pause and look in on an urge as it arises?