10 Steps for Fighting Harmful Behaviors and Getting Over Addiction

It was such a simple move, but simply acknowledging my addiction has changed my personal outlook quite dramatically. It has helped me understand why I do some of the things I do and how to consciously make a decision to stop reverting to all these things that end up harming me in the end. Nevertheless, I am a plan it out kind of gal, and I feel like writing down a plan will make me more accountable to myself. So here are my 10 steps for fighting harmful behaviors and getting over addiction:


1. Pinpoint actions and behaviors that you turn to when you stressed, depressed, or in a generally negative state of mind.

2. Answer these questions: Does this make me feel better in the short term? Does it have harmful long-term consequences? Am I becoming dependent on this? Do I know how to cope with my stress without this? And finally, am I addicted?

3. Acknowledge the addiction and make a conscious decision to get over it.

4. Make a list of reasons why it is harmful. How is it affecting your life in a negative way? Reinforce your reasons for quitting so that when you start to relapse, you remember why you committed in the first place. Write these reasons down and keep them accessible.

5. Make a list of your triggers so you are aware of when you are most vulnerable and when it is most important to steer clear of your addiction.

6. Find a hobby, or a make list of activities to fill your time with instead. Personally, I am trying to start meditating more regularly. I’ve also been practicing piano much more, as creating music is something that builds my confidence and allows me to be comfortable with myself. Going for a walk or listening to music are also great activities. Something my therapist suggested, but I’ve only tried once is listening to an audiotape to keep thoughts from going astray.

7. Reward yourself! (Albeit not by giving in to your addiction) Treat yourself to a meal at your favorite restaurant or buy yourself something nice. Set personal goals for your addiction, be it number of days, weeks or months, and when you fulfill these goals, give yourself a little something.

8. Get in touch with your feelings. A large part of meditation is understanding your emotions and mental states. When you are sad, acknowledge your sadness and try to understand what it is that is making you feel this way. By becoming more aware of what is going on within you, these emotions have less control over your actions.

9. If you have a relapse, don’t give up. Acknowledge that relapse is natural and happens to the best of us. It is not a setback. It is simply a reminder of how difficult recovery is and how strong you are for having come this far. Keep chugging forward.

10. Celebrate yourself. Acknowledge the little victories. Did you get out of bed today? Did you smile at least once? Did you make someone else smile? Did you check off something on your neverending list of tasks? Did you fight off an urge? Did you remember to celebrate yourself?




7 Ways to Get a Little More Out of Life…

1. Handwrite someone a note
We all have that special someone who has made our life just a little bit better just by being in it. Maybe its time to tell them that. Thank them for making a difference in your life and let them know why. It takes ten minutes to write down how you feel and it will mean the world to them.

2. Make a checklist
There are always those simple little tasks that we always say we will do later. Making a doctor’s appointment, cleaning your room, returning your email. For some reason there is nothing more satisfying to me than checking those little shadowed boxes, especially if those tasks take less than five minutes to accomplish. At the end of list, have a checkbox for “starting the list” so you can start off strong.

3. Get mindful
Take a couple minutes each day to center yourself. Don’t think about the past or the future, but focus on the present. It’s difficult to remember this as you go about the day. Ironically, there are several iphone apps to help you out. Most of them are about 99 cents and you can pick time intervals (eg 1 hr or 2 hrs) when it will ding and remind you to be mindful. I use a free app called Lotus Bud that will ring at random intervals. If you buy the full version, you can set a schedule for quiet times when you don’t want to be interrupted, but otherwise, you just open the app and there is a switch for on and off.

4. 100 Happy Days (or something like it)
You’ve probably heard of 100 Happy Days where for 100 days, you take a picture of something, little or big, that was a highlight to your day or made you smile. For my winter study class at Williams, I took landscape photography and I felt like for the first time I was really seeing the beauty of the campus. Obviously living in the Berkshires and in the mountains doesn’t make this very difficult, but I also started to see the beauty of a swatch of grass or a pile of leaves or the magic of a snowy night. Now that the class is over, I’ve started to notice less since I no longer have assignments to complete, but I’m starting to make an effort to get back to seeing and not just looking.

5. Do a few burpees
I’ve noticed that when stress starts piling up, I get into a bit of a rut which usually ends up in me lying under the covers in fetal position blaming myself for getting into this situation. I’ve started to see that all it takes is a little exercise and a bit of a pep talk. It doesn’t have to be extreme exercise, but if you do 20 burpees or jumping jacks once every hour or when you feel yourself sinking into that bottomless pit, it might get your motor revving a little.

6. Set an intention for the day
Like I wrote earlier, it was much easier for me to see the beauty in the world when I had to do it for an assignment. That may sound terrible, but its not so bad when its a goal that you set for yourself. It can be something on this list or an inspirational quote or something arbitrary like saying hi to someone you’ve never seen before. Hopefully focusing on this goal will make you start living more in the present and not in the past or the future.

7. Write yourself a note
I don’t mean one of those goal setting notes that they make you write at every workshop, retreat, or orientation. I mean acknowledging that you appreciate yourself, that you’re proud of yourself, and encouraging yourself to get through whatever you need to get through. Throw it out, delete it when you’re done, but make sure you take that time for yourself.

“One thing about trains… It doesn’t matter where they’re going. What matters is deciding to get on.” -The Polar Express