7 Ways to Kick Addictive and Toxic Habits

2/16/2023 | Annette Stevens, Certified Health Coach

For most people, unhealthy habits and addictions are difficult to change. They are attached to emotional components like depression, frustration, boredom, happiness, sadness, anger, nervousness.

The first step toward breaking any addiction is having a willingness to change your unwanted behavior. In this article Central Ohio Primary Care explores the ways you can kick your detrimental addictions and habits.

1. Answer the question - why do you want to stop the addiction/habit?

Write down your reasons for quitting your habit. Look at your journal daily. A good pattern is to carry it with you and look at the list first thing in the morning, last think at night, and prior to engaging in the addiction/habit. This will help you to shift from automatic behavior to focusing on why you are on this journey.

2. Keep a 24-hour log

Take one 24-hour period and write down what you were doing, how you were feeling, and what was going on while you were engaged in your addiction/habit. These are known as your triggers.

3. Think of alternative activities

Make a list of some other things you can do when your trigger hits instead of the addiction/habit and be prepared to put those ideas into ACTION (walking, calling a friend, going to the library, leaving the situation, etc.). Having a plan or strategy ahead of time can help set you up for success.

4. Practice the 4-Ds

Delay: Before engaging in your habit, give yourself 10 minutes to read your list of reasons for kicking the addiction and to start one of your alternate activities.

Deep Breathing: Take slow, deep inhalations through your nose while counting to 4 (or more if you can), and exhale slowly. Your exhale should last longer than the inhale. This is an amazing stress reliever!

Drinking Water: This technique works well with changing eating habits or quitting nicotine.

Do Something Else: Focus on something else by engaging in some other healthy activity.

5. Set small goals

Set small, achievable goals. For example: I will lose 4 pounds in one month by watching my carb and sugar intake and taking a walk 3-4 times per week.

6. Reward yourself

Recognize each achievement as you move towards your long-term goal. Feed your brain positive thoughts on a job well done!

7. Go easy on yourself

There is no perfect plan and sometimes our best intentions just do not come together. Don’t let a bad day derail your journey. Get back on track either later the same day or the next day. Try not to gauge your journey with someone who seems to have had less difficulty with a similar journey. Be consistent in your behavior change until that change becomes your new routine. Remember: Positive thoughts lead to positive outcomes!

Get help

If you or someone you know is struggling with drug or alcohol abuse, you can get advice, help, and explore treatment options by calling the American Addiction Centers hotline at (866) 959-1369. Or use their 24/7 texting service.

In any medical or psychological emergency, such as an overdose, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room.

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