You’ll often hear people repeat the adage that humans are creatures of habit. Patterns help us figure out the world around us and learn how to do things faster, but they can also be detrimental when we fall into routines that harm us. Here are some strategies for getting out of a rut and continuing with your addiction recovery on a positive note.
1. Take Bad Habits One at a Time
In any given day, you can only handle a finite number of challenges. Think back to the last time you had a long, hectic workday with a lot of meetings and other demands on your time and energy. At the end of it all, you probably wanted to crawl right into bed and not worry about anything else.
A concept called ego depletion explains this. If you’re trying to juggle too many things at a time, you won’t have enough willpower in reserve to deal with temptations that arise. It might seem like a smart strategy to tackle all your negative habits at once, but that approach can be counterproductive. Instead, deal with them one at a time to avoid burnout.
2. Don’t Try to Quit Cold Turkey
As you likely learned in addiction treatment, cold turkey is not an ideal approach for changing your behavior. The mindset of being able to do everything all at once has roots in the idea that someone can suddenly attain perfection. That leaves you no leeway when temptation strikes and makes you more vulnerable to caving in.
3. Slow and Steady Wins the Race
Breaking a large task into smaller chunks can help it feel more manageable. When you’re working on changing your behavior, focus on making small improvements every day. Taper off gradually by decreasing the amount of time you spend doing the bad habit. For example, if you’re trying to spend less time watching TV, you could start by cutting out one half-hour show per week.
4. Have a Relapse Plan
When trying to change any aspect of your life, some amount of backsliding is normal. With this in mind, prepare for what you will do if you experience a setback in your progress. Rather than feeling guilty, view the relapse as a learning experience to help you understand what went wrong, and how you can change to prevent future relapses.
5. Keep Track of Habit Triggers
Your environment can give you subconscious cues to behave in specific ways. If you find yourself responding to an urge to engage in an unhealthy behavior, write down where you were, how you were feeling and who was with you. What were you doing at the time you felt the impulse? Make note of that as well.
6. Try Therapy
If you’re having a hard time breaking unhealthy habits on your own, cognitive behavioral therapy is one additional strategy you can try. A therapist trained in this method can help you learn to identify your triggers and unlearn bad behaviors with a step-by-step approach.
Replacing Bad Habits With Good Ones
If you have been struggling with a drug or alcohol addiction, you have the power to break the cycle of unhealthy behavior and change your life for the better. At New Found Life, we provide practical, evidence-based treatment in Long Beach, CA. Take the first step on the path to healing and request help today.