Giving up a habit is hard work and it can take a lot of effort to stop cravings from controlling your life. Once we experience a craving, it can feel unthinkable to imagine it will go away without us giving in. However, cravings tend to have a peak where they feel the strongest and then gradually diminish over time.
Have you struggled with trying to break a bad habit? Do you want to know how to curb your cravings, be it for sugary foods, cigarettes or drink?
Here are seven tips to help stop cravings in their tracks.
One of the best ways to overcome a craving is to distract yourself. Physical activity such as exercise is especially helpful for this. By focusing your attention on something more positive, you can distract your thoughts and form a mental link with a healthier alternative.
Repeating a mantra such as “I can choose not to use”, “I control my thoughts, my thoughts do not control me” and “I am capable of staying clean” can help you gain confidence in your ability not to use. Even if you don’t believe them at the time, repeating them over and over allows them to take hold and give you a better chance of having a different viewpoint.
Remind yourself of the problems caused by using
Make a list of everything which your harmful habit has caused in your life and remind yourself of how well you have done to have given it up. Then when you’re at a low point you can look at the list and give yourself a boost to keep going.
Remind yourself of the benefits of not using
You can also make a similar list of direct benefits which have occurred as a result of giving up. For example if you have quit smoking, your list might include a longer life, less chance of illness and more money to spend on other things.
Give yourself permission to leave
If you are in an environment or situation which is making your cravings worse, give yourself permission to leave. Over time you will find that you can cope with more and more situations which would have caused your cravings in the past so don’t rush.
Invest in a stress-relieving object
Having a physical object such as a stress ball or plastic tangle toy to fiddle with can help deal with cravings in the immediate sense as it’ll occupy your hands and give you something else to focus on.
Remember that feelings are not facts
Part of facing down a craving is remembering that you are in control. Feelings don’t always have to be acted on and most will pass quickly regardless of what happens.
No matter how horrible it might be at the time, it is possible to face down your feelings and survive. Sometimes working with a professional therapist can help you along the way. Whether you learn to manage cravings with a professional or on your own, remember to be kind to yourself and keep going – it will get easier.