When was the last time you experienced a strong craving for something? Maybe it’s a desire for a certain food, or an urge to engage in a behavior (scroll social media, shop, bite your nails, etc.) in an effort to avoid uncomfortable feelings or emotions, or to soothe yourself in a stressful situation.
We’ve all been there. And we all know how challenging it can be to NOT act on that craving in the moment.
But with a few simple strategies, you can successfully navigate cravings and take back control. You can train your brain and body to respond differently, to take the time to consciously choose your actions rather than simply reacting on impulse or out of habit.
(And if you'd prefer audio/visual instead of text, check out my YouTube video on this
same topic! https://youtu.be/aQ1eNxJ_pY8)
Next time your craving hits, try these steps:
1) Take a moment to breathe and reduce your body’s stress response.
When you’re experiencing a craving, you’re basically in a state of stress - and when
your brain is in a state of stress, it’s very challenging to make decisions that take
into account your long-term goals.
Stress is like having blinders on: all you see is the immediate fix, the instant
Using simple, easy strategies for reducing stress when you’re experiencing an urge
or craving significantly increase your capacity to make better choices. Taking a few
deep breaths or slowing your breathing rate shifts your body and brain towards a
more relaxed state, so you regain control of your thoughts and actions.
(Other forms of stress relief work well too – exercise, play, reading, music, yoga,
meditation, a creative hobby, etc. – but using your breath is the easiest and quickest
way to decrease your body’s stress response.)
2) Allow yourself to have the thought/feeling/emotion.
The more you try to repress a negative thought or feeling, the more you're going to
think about it. But when you stop trying to control the thought, it stops controlling
Giving yourself permission to think the thought or feel the feeling leads to less
stress and less temptation.
3) Don't believe everything you think.
Thinking or feeling something does *not* mean it's true or that you have to act on
it. And while you may not always have control over what you're thinking or feeling,
you do have control over how you respond.
Before taking action, NOTICE and NAME your thought/feeling - without trying to
avoid, distract, or argue.
4) "Surf the Urge"
See if you can allow yourself to stick with the physical sensations and ride the wave
- not pushing them away or acting on them, just paying attention to the ups and
Notice what happens as the urge naturally ebbs and flows. If you can sit with the
discomfort for a few minutes, you'll probably notice it dissipating on its own.
In the end, you may still decide to eat the food or do the thing, and that's ok! Practicing these steps helps you build awareness and discomfort tolerance, and allows you to make a conscious, thoughtful decision rather than simply reacting in the moment.
Cravings are a totally normal and understandable human experience. We all have them, and in simple terms, cravings are just one of the ways our brain responds to a stressful situation.
Reducing that stress response, allowing yourself to experience the feelings or thoughts, and bringing awareness to what is happening puts you back in the driver’s seat and gives you the opportunity to decide how you want to proceed.
When you feel that urge coming on, give these steps a try, and let me know what you think!
What is the craving you struggle with the most? What strategies have you found to be helpful for you?
And if you’d like personalized guidance for handling cravings or other aspects of your health and well-being, I offer customized coaching programs to meet your needs. Send me a message or schedule your free consultation call today!
...for your free 30-minute consultation, or visit https://calendly.com/meganfschall/consultation-call to get started!