Most people are well into their New Year’s Resolution plan by this time of year and have likely made some progress in reaching their goals. Right about now in the process, however, is when the honeymoon phase has worn off, and the actual work of changing habits begins. It’s also the time when most progress begins to slow down, and the work becomes less rewarding. To make matters worse, we are bombarded with challenges including cravings. Read on to learn more about the 6 steps to overcoming cravings.
- Awareness – begin to seek a deeper understanding of your cravings. What happens before you have a craving? Can you identify any specific triggers? What situations are you able to control your triggers and how? Conversely, what situations cause you to give in to triggers? The best way to help yourself understand the complexity of your specific cravings is to document them. Create a chart on a piece of paper that helps you list WHAT the craving is, WHEN it happened, and HOW you managed it.
- Action – as you gain insight into the causes and responses to your triggers, start to create an alternative behavior plan that you can implement the next time a craving occurs under similar circumstances. To be clear, you might create an “IF-THEN” statement for each scenario. If these statements are written out, you are more likely to follow them. For example, you might write a statement such as this: IF I get stressed at work in response to phone call overload, then I will perform 20 jumping jacks to get my mind off the craving.
- Get creative – make a list of as many possible alternatives to giving in to cravings as you can. The crazier the ideas, the more they will serve as a distraction to the craving and redirect your thinking. Do keep in mind that the ideas should align with your overall health goal. Some people choose calming activities such as deep breathing or closing their eyes; other people pick high energy activities such as going for a brisk walk or sit-ups and push-ups.
- Shape your environment – going back to your awareness tracking, pay attention to ways you can change your environment to be more supportive of your goal. Maybe it’s time to ditch the candy bowl on the desk. Or perhaps having fresh fruits and vegetables cut and ready to eat will help. Some people premeasure the water they are going to drink each day and keep it in sight. There are lots of ways to create an environment that will support your goals without a lot of work.
- Measure progress – as you document, not only will you increase awareness, but you can track over time how often you were able to succeed at staying on plan. Perhaps you have gone from caving in 4x/day to only 2x/week. That is great progress, and will help you build toward greater success in the future! If there are areas in which you would like greater improvement, experiment with new ideas.
- Celebrate – need I say more? As you measure your progress and can see where your successes are, make time to celebrate. Share with a friend, treat yourself to a special event, or whatever reward you enjoy that is, again, in line with your overall goal.