Cigarettes. Alcohol. Gambling. Heroin. When most people think of addiction, these are the things that come to mind. While you may not be enabling a pack-a-day habit, you may have addictive tendencies to something much more minor. Think about it: If I told you that your morning coffee is off-limits tomorrow, how do you react? Are you cool as a cucumber or is your heart racing a bit at the thought? What about if I asked you to delete Instagram off your phone for a month? Or no shopping this weekend? What things may you be low-key addicted to, and how are those things ruling your life? Lauren’s Top Tips are here to help you discover your low key addictions, determine if they’re a problem, and keep them in check.
Gotta have it?
Think about the necessities in your life (I’m not talking food and oxygen, but the individualized things that make their way into your daily life). What is your attitude toward them? Do you wake up thinking about it or count down the minutes until you can have it? Do you think everything sucks, but it will all be okay once you can have that thing? These types of thoughts suggest an addictive mindset. Most of us can agree that it’s more than possible to live without coffee, but if you wake up thinking about your 9am cup and that you’ll be able to get through your day only once you get your hands wrapped around that warm mug, then you may have an unhealthy attachment to that cup of joe.
Getting in the way?
Some things that we love enhance our lives and others hinder our lives. One good way to determine which is which is to evaluate if you have the resources to sustain your vice. Is your habit taking up too much time that you need for other things (family, work, sleep), or too much money (that should be spent on rent, good food, paying off debt, or retirement savings)? If so, it may be time to reevaluate its importance and placement in your life. Don’t sacrifice the important “musts” in your life.
Make it work on your (new) terms!
We’ve all heard the expression “everything in moderation”… and it’s a good one! If you’re finding that your habit is more excessive than moderate, fear not. Being low-key addicted does not mean you’re doomed to be a slave to your habit. Decide how often is reasonable to have that Starbucks or check those socials, and set calendar alarms in your phone to alert you that it’s go-time. This way, you can take it off your mind and know that you’ll still have that thing when the time is (predetermined-ly) right. It’s a great way to let your mind look forward to it and lets you cut the obsessive thinking.
Release the associated anxiety.
Now that you have your plan in place and you know when you’re going to indulge, help yourself get into your new habits by minimizing any anxiety that comes along with cutting back. It’s very common to feel like your mind is always on the one thing you can’t have, which can lead to feelings of anxiety. There are many ways to keep them in check. A couple favourites include: deep breathing (to help the physical symptoms of anxiety, such as rapid heard beat, sweating, or stomach issues) and mindfulness (to help you bring positive attention to all the things you do during the day that you’re not low-key addicted to, and show yourself the pleasure you can derive from those things). You do have the power to rule your feelings, and these techniques can really help ease the transition.
If you’re struggling to make changes on your own, you’re not alone. If change was always easy, we’d all morph into our best selves overnight! Seek out support from friends and family, or for more direct assistance, meet with a counsellor. Clinical hypnosis (my personal fave) can be an excellent tool to help you get over the hump of addiction and make changes in your life. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (okay, so I have two faves) is a stellar therapy for helping change your thought process around your habits, leading to a more positive emotional response and easier behavioural change. Success!
Don’t punish yourself.
You just mobile ordered a venti latte, didn’t you? Don’t sweat it; happens to the best of us. The important thing is to get back on the horse. People often think that if they’ve blown their plan, they may as well over-indulge because the day is ruined anyway. Just because you’ve nipped into your chocolate stash or sneaked a peek at your socials off-schedule doesn’t mean you’re a failure. Remind yourself of your goal, remind yourself of the reason why it’s important to you, and resume the process. We all slip up sometimes; it’s what you do next that counts.
Remember, just because you enjoy something doesn’t mean it’s a problematic addiction. Having (relatively healthy) habits is normal, safe, and part of being a human being. Decide which of your habits are cool, which need to be kicked to the curb, and revel in your own power to make the changes!
**Disclaimer: The advice in this article is for informational purposes only and does not replace the diagnosis/treatment of a licensed medical or mental health professional.**
Lauren Berger is a Registered Social Worker Psychotherapist providing counselling and psychotherapy at IHI. Check her out at www.laurenberger.ca, drop her a line at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow her on Twitter: @LaurenBergerMSW, or sneak a peek at her Instagram: laurenberger_msw.