You’re sitting down on the couch, flipping through options in a streaming service to decide what not to watch, and it hits you: a craving. You can’t help it! It’s part of your routine and every night, even though you know you shouldn’t give in, you succumb to the craving and start stuffing your face.
It’s not just late-night eating. Cravings can hit in all shapes and forms, from snacking, to smoking, to drinking, and everything in between. But we don’t have to let cravings control us.
Why do we do this to ourselves? More importantly, how can we stop cravings from taking us over?
First, to overcome the problem we need to understand it. Cravings are often the result of several factors, either by themselves or combined, such as:
- Being bored
• Having anxiety
• Being stressed out
• Succumbing to a routine
Studies have shown that cravings can subside if you can power through them for a short time. Believe it or not, cravings will go away if you do nothing! Surf through the troubling waters until you reach the shore, or the promised land, of getting back to your everyday life.
The next time you feel a craving coming on, whether it’s eating, checking your smartphone for the hundredth time, or getting distracted from your priorities, just imagine yourself surfing through the moment. The shoreline isn’t far; you can do it! Just power through and think about coming down from the craving.
The wave you’re “surfing” will rise up (likely for a ten-minute period), where it’s the most difficult to ride and you may feel like you’re about to be dunked in the water. But stay the course! Eventually the craving will reduce and the wave will lower.
A recent study over a seven-day period showed that smokers who were able to “surf” through their cravings were able to reduce those cravings by an incredible 37%. If they can do it, so can you!
Cravings can often be the result of habit or falling into a spiraling pattern. Instead of giving yourself over to a negative habit that results in a craving, develop healthy habits formed from promises to yourself to do better. These promises, or pacts, can be your lighthouse when you’re “surfing.” Here are three examples:
Create a persona
If you want to be a certain way, then add things into your identifying daily routine that will promote that. For example, if you have a craving stop eating after 9 PM, then tell people that you’re on a diet. The simple act of verbally identifying with that craving will help put up resistance later on when the craving starts to build.
Put a price tag on it
If you’re trying to quit smoking, then track how much money you spend on cigarettes and instead put that amount in your savings account. With your cash unavailable, or at least reprioritized, you’ll find that it’s a lot easier when you’re “surfing.”
If you want to stop checking your phone every five seconds, then don’t set it down beside you. Put it in a drawer. If it’s out of sight, it’s out of mind. If you feel the craving to get up and open the drawer, the physical act of overcoming that tiny roadblock will reinforce your willpower.