When I decided to quit drinking, I wanted to know exactly how to do it, right away. I was motivated and wanted to get my hands on the HOW-TO-QUIT-RIGHT-NOW manual for addiction. PROBLEM: It didn't exist (at least I didn't find it through my multiple google searches) So, I decided to create the manual and share it with you today!
There are a couple of things you will need to know first:
1) You can not escape cravings, or intellectualize your way out of them. Neurons that fire together wire together - and so your brain is currently wired for your harmful addiction, causing you cravings and pushing you to repeat your pattern. It WILL take time to rewire your brain to new habits - but it can be done. And, it can start today!
2) Addiction is part of the human condition. We are designed to release dopamine and experience rewards for behaviours that help us to learn or provide us with a positive experience. We want to be addicted to some things - in other words, we want to create patterns that bring us success and well-being. We do not want to continue with addictions that bring us pain. Good news - We will actually use positive addictions as part of our plan to help us quit our harmful addictions.
Starting today, be it Drinking, Smoking, Eating, Gambling, Pills, Ruminating.... here are 10 things you can do to QUIT your addiction right now.
1) Develop a Morning Ritual
Wake up very early (4 or 5am) to an alarm that goes off the same time every day. Get up (*5 second rule - Mel Robbins) like a rocket ship blasting off at the first sound of the alarm - do not hit snooze. Mel Robbins will explain to you the science behind how this will bring you success in your goals for the rest of the day in her amazing book 5 Second Rule.
2) Take your first hour of the day to do the following:
Gratitude Journal - write down everything you feel grateful for in the moment. Let it be stream of consciousness style writing, don't stop at just three things or 2 things. Let it flow.
Review Your Goals - Very few people actually take the time to consider and write down their goals. If they do, they don't follow through on the goals because they don't pay attention to them once written. If you can read your goals each day, and remind yourself of your intentions you will be much more likely to be successful in achieving them.
Task List - write down three things you plan to accomplish that day - three measurable and doable things that will propel you towards your goal of living free from harmful addiction (not just the grocery list).
3) Exercise. A natural source of dopamine, and other beneficial chemicals come from exercise. Take time everyday for an hour of any type of exercise. (morning works best for most because of digestion, schedule etc. but if night-time is your thing - adapt - just do it!) I'm not going to try to tell you one type of exercise is better than the other. This isn't about body-sculpting. It's about getting the angry out, and wiring your body and mind for health. Walking, running, swimming, yoga, dog-walking, canoeing, the gym... you name it. If you like it and feel excited about doing it - bonus! If you don't like exercise, do it anyway - try different things and you will soon discover it makes you feel good.
4) Pick a mentor or model and reach out to him/her personally. Pick someone who is modeling a life that you want - someone who knows more about what you are doing than you do. Someone who you admire and would like to learn from. Don't just watch them - reach out to them. Ask them to be a mentor. Ask them for help. You may be surprised how this kind of relationship can motivate you and inspire you to do great things. If your chosen mentor says no, then move onto the next mentor. There are plenty of people out there doing what you want to do. Find them and make a genuine connection with them. *I did this with an author of a book I read about alcohol. It has been incredibly helpful and become a relationship like no other, which I cherish!
5) Write it out. In order for your left (thinking) and right (knowing) brains to get along on this decision to quit your addiction, you need to wake up. You need to be alert, conscious and full of intent as you move through your day. One of the best ways to do this is to take the time to write things down. Write down your problems, your goals, your plans, your feelings, your grocery list, your tasks, your future pet names, your dreams, your epiphanies. Write down quotes from books that resonate with you. Write it down so you can take your thoughts a step beyond the mind. Writing it down brings thoughts into reality, and closer to fruition.
6) Practice Mindfulness. This is not just about sitting and meditating. It is about paying attention and learning very specific strategies for self-regulation. If you would like a great introduction to mindfulness try Dr. Dan Seigel's Wheel of Awareness practice. If this isn't your cup of tea, let me know. I have other suggestions for you. Learning to pay attention to what you are doing while you are doing it may be the key to changing your addictive behaviour. If you pay attention to smoking while smoking you may notice that your lungs are burning, your mouth tastes like a smokey wet ashtray, your mind is ruminating about cancer, your heart-rate is rising due to the drug and your temperature is rising due to the stress that comes from knowing smoking is bad for you, but chemically feeling dependent on the rush. This experience can motivate you to want to build resilience habits to replace your harmful habits.
7) Prioritize Sleep. Decide to go to bed at the same time every night and shower yourself with the support you need to get a good sleep. Enjoy the routine of washing the face, brushing teeth, reading etc. Make your room a dark and quiet place. Set your phone alarm in the bathroom so you MUST get out of bed to turn it off in the morning. Use earplugs or mouth guard or eye-pillow or whatever aid helps you to fall into a deep sleep easily. I listen to yoga nidra recordings or sleep hypnosis on the app called Insight Timer. Try it - it's free. Good sleep helps to reduce the power of cravings as you have taken the evening to repair, recover, rejuvenate and promote good health.
8) Prepare and eat nutritious food. Refined sugar and junk food cause physical and emotional ups and downs. Insulin, sugar, dopamine ... all get out of whack. If you want to set yourself up for success, begin to wire your brain towards addiction to good healthy foods. William Porter, Author of the book Diet and Fitness Explained, says you know what foods pack the most nutrition because they are the ones that taste the best, in their most natural form. Fruit tastes the best, right off the tree. Meat doesn't taste so good in it's raw form. Neither does pasta. Not sure if there is such a thing as a Dorito Bush - but the dorito doesn't taste good unless it's covered in salt, fat and sugar. Eat fresh whole foods instead of junk food and your brain will start to wire for them. Your body will thank you and support you in your mission by digesting things well, giving your more energy and helping you to be more positive and vibrant.
9) IF, THEN Strategy. Prepare for cravings with a line up of replacement activities for your brain to wire onto. At first you will continue to crave your past substance or behavior, but eventually, you will build resilience by practicing your replacements. For example. IF you are tempted by a chocolate bar in the grocery store line up ... THEN you will pull the dried fruit out of your purse that you have ready for snacking on at all times. IF you feel like compelled to order dessert because your friends are all doing it, THEN you will choose tea and fruit as you read your positive affirmation you keep tucked in your wallet. IF you feel lonely and like reaching for the snickers in your closet, THEN you will pick up the phone and call or text a friend to thank them or cheer them on in someway (reach out and feel the connection you are actually missing). *Write down the trigger situations that come up in your typical day, and create your IF, THEN strategy to help you prepare for what you will do instead to combat your cravings. Remember, you can always walk away from something - PHYSICALLY WALK AWAY. A craving will only last a matter of seconds - at most a minute.
10. GIVE. Whatever it is you want, try giving it away. The law of attraction suggests that you need to put out what you want to receive back. If you seek freedom from your addiction, you need to determine what propels your addiction. Is it loneliness? Anxiety? Perfectionism? Depression? Stress? What do you need to help you to overcome the root cause of your addiction? Do you need more information? Do you need connection with friends? Love from a family member? Hope for the future? If you know what it is you need, ask yourself is you are able to provide it for yourself of others? Can you help someone else to feel less lonely? Can you help someone else to get in shape. Can you improve your children's level of happiness by being present for them? Can you do a good deed? Send a nice text? Send someone flowers? This practice of giving will help to wire your brain for gratitude and appreciation. This will help you to get into the present moment and to make change more available for your mind.
All of these items above can be started and practiced TODAY! If you would like more tools and strategies to help you to maintain these changes long-term, I would like to help you.
If you are interested in learning more about Personal Coaching, and if it is a fit for you - I am happy to provide a free discovery call.