Most people have some kind of habitual behavior. A lot of us have little ticks or actions we perform sometimes without even thinking about it. Some of us, however, have habits that can cause us real damage. Behaviors and substances that we have made habitual to the point where it is dangerous for our health. We all know the kinds of habits we’re talking about. Smoking, coffee, alcohol, drugs (prescribed or not). If you’re worried your habit may become (or already is) an addiction, you need to tackle it.
Know how your habit works
Sure, there’s a chemical explanation of how these habits can become addictive. But there’s also a strong psychological explanation for how they work, as well. There are contexts and preludes to our indulging that we can keep an eye out for. Do we smoke because we’re tired or stressed? Do we rely on alcohol to help us get through social situations? Before you start giving up and taking action, take stock. Spend a couple weeks to a month just recording every time you’ve indulged in your habit. Be honest with yourself, no cheating and leaving bits out. The more you take it down, the more you might start to identify patterns. Identifying those patterns helps you understand how your habit works.
The more you start to understand those habits, the more you should start paying attention to them in the midst of your life. Becoming mindful is the process of being more mentally “awake” in everyday life. A lot of us can go through life with a certain sense of sleepwalking, doing things just on autopilot. That’s the kind of thing that can make any unhealthy behavior habitual. When you start becoming mindful, you become aware of your high-risk situations. You can see your triggers and understand that you are actually getting triggered at that moment. Being mindful is an important part of the following steps. So learn how to do it. Practice mindfulness while you wait or after you wake up. Take in the details and understand how they make you feel. When you start feeling your cravings kick in, then you can call on that mindfulness.
Maintaining a healthy life
There are other factors that can play into your level of risk, too. Not just your immediate context, but the broader scope of your life at that moment. For example, your confidence and stress. Emotional health is vital to helping you recover. For example, the stress hormone cortisol plays a big role in addiction. It can be the trigger and can be relieved by those bad habits. So you should make life changes that make cortisol have less of a role in your life. There are a lot of ways to do that. It could be exercise, eating healthier or meditating. It might even be as easy as making sure you get a full night’s sleep for a change.
Challenge yourself with real stakes
For some people, it can be just as easy as recognizing your habits and their patterns. For others, a bit of extra incentive can make a real difference. Don’t rely on pure willpower alone. Make it a game (and a real challenge) for yourself. For example, consider the 21habit challenge. Fine yourself every time you fall short and indulge. Reward yourself every time you hit a milestone in refraining from your habit. If you find yourself unable to stop yourself from failing, then it means you need to take more action, still.
Creating barriers to your habit
When you start tracking your habit and understanding it, it can be easier to take steps to avoid it. With some habits, it can be easier to create barriers for it. For smoking, ecigarettes have been a huge help in the fight. There have been some health considerations, including the risk of diacetyl, for example. As you can find out from Vaporescence, however, these concerns are fast fading. Otherwise, you need to rely on creating the barriers yourself. Being able to recognize those high-risk situations from afar and take a step back. If there are people who only feed into your habits and actively sabotage you, consider getting away from them. Think about the long-game and strategize the distance you put between yourself and your habits.
Communication is crucial
A lot of the methods above sound like they are something you do by yourself. However, that’s not true. Communicating about your problems is a necessary step to overcoming them. For one, when you set it in stone, you can’t take it back. You will find it harder to go into denial and undo all your progress. At the same time, you have someone to check your efforts. Someone to talk through the process with. If you tell someone else about your high-risk factors, they can act as a second pair of eyes. At the very least, your loved ones can be there for you to give yourself the chance to be vulnerable. Fighting addiction is difficult, so don’t think you have to do it alone.
Thinking about rehabilitation
If it gets beyond the point where you’re able to help yourself, it might be time to exile yourself. Rehab is a drastic step, but it can be precisely the one you need to get away from the danger you pose to yourself. You need to be careful about the centers you choose for yourself, however. Ask the right questions. Get testimonials and hear from past patients. Find out whether a short term or long term program would be better for you. Ask what you’re looking to get out of rehab in the first place. It is a big step, to cut yourself off from the outside world. Make sure you’re as prepared as you can be for it.
The process isn’t going to be the same for everyone. Some people won’t need as much help. For some people, understanding their habits won’t help them. It’s about giving them a try and to keep trying them until you find what clicks.