Identify your triggersAddictions are often based in habit, and compulsions are brought on by triggers. This could be a particular time of the day, or being in a certain place, or being around certain influences. If someone else start slacking off, you are more likely to follow suit; if someone goes out for a cigarette while you’re trying to quit, you’re more likely to give up and go for one too; if a biscuit tin or batch of donuts gets passed around, you are more likely to give in to snacking tendencies.
Identify your needThere is a lot of underlying thought and emotion that goes into addictive behaviour, but because it becomes so routine, the logic is often lost on people. Slow down for a minute and consider what you get from the behaviour: does it relieve stress, or make you feel happy, or give you momentary satisfaction? What do you feel after you have acted upon that behaviour: disappointed in yourself, or relieved, or guilty? By breaking down the thought process, you can take a better look at what you need and why your habit fills that void.
Replace your habitOnce you have put your finger on what you get from your addiction, you can start to look at how to move past it, and this often involves replacing your habit with a healthier one. If snacking is your weakness, think about what foods you could bring to work that won’t cause you to put on weight. If it’s wasting time, consider how you could reorder your working day to make it more engaging. With an open mind, you can find substitutes for these unhealthy behaviours that don’t have such a negative impact on your life.
Learn to relaxAnother thing about the thought process behind addiction is that it is often fallen back on to solve some sort of problem, anxiety or unrealistic perspective, and finding safe, effective ways to relax and unwind is the final step in conquering addictive behaviours. Everyone is different, but there are lots of things you can experiment with until you find what works for you. Some people respond well to music, while others find great relief in aromatherapy. You may have a really good friend you can call up to take your mind off things. Whatever you do, it is important to have a way to relax in the workplace that allows you to bypass your addictions, but doesn’t jeopardise your performance. Karen Meager and John McLachlan are the co-founders of Monkey Puzzle Training and co-authors of Time Mastery: Banish Time Management Forever (£12.99, Panoma Press).
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