Taking back your life from destructive habits, like addiction, can be challenging. However, with commitment and the right knowledge and support, you can replace those old habits with new, healthy habits.
As you begin your journey towards a healthier way of life, be sure to consult professional advice before attempting to detox. Some substances are too dangerous to quit without assistance, because severe withdrawal symptoms can be life threatening in certain cases. Consult a doctor or call our addiction specialists to get a recommendation for your situation.
From Better Habits to a Better Life
Creating new habits is a long-term process. It’s important to be committed for the long haul while taking small steps in the present.
Your commitment to a better life is what will keep you going even when you experience setbacks.
Focusing on small daily steps, creating new habits a little bit at a time, will make the changes more likely to stick and create the transformation you seek.
5 Steps for Creating Healthy Habits
Step 1 – Create Your Vision
Create a vision for your life. Think about the big picture, where you are today, where would you like to be in the future and why it’s important to you. Having a good idea of where you want to end up and why will help keep you focused on moving forward.
Write down your future vision in words, with doodles, or in any other form of art expression. This will help articulate your vision and is a great reference tool for the future. Visualize yourself achieving that vision.
You may find that you have a big grandiose vision for your life, a humble vision, or perhaps both. Growth is a process – you can start with a simple vision and work your way up to bigger and better things as you progress.
Next, identify what you need to do to realize your vision. Start with where you are today and determine one small goal that will get you a step closer to your vision. For example, a small goal could be to replace the habit of going to a bar every day after work with going to a yoga class instead.
Continue writing down goals that you’ll want to tackle, but don’t let them overwhelm you. Small incremental improvements are the key to healthy habits that last.
Throughout this process, be honest with yourself about what you really want and why. When you’re completely truthful with yourself, you begin to lay a foundation for integrity in everything that you do.
Step 2 – Mold Your Expectations
Before you get started with implementing your new healthy habit, pause to make sure that your expectations are realistic.
Is your goal a challenge, yet achievable? Do you have the time and resources to do what’s needed to accomplish your goal? If not, where can you get help? Will you find it easier to stay on track if you have someone to keep you accountable?
There likely are harmful patterns in your life that contribute to your decision to use substances. Things like lack of sleep, work stress, and a sedentary lifestyle can work against your efforts to create healthy habits. By consciously being aware of harmful patterns, you can see where you might face a setback. Instead of giving up, you’ll recognize it, give yourself grace, and get back on track. Forming new habits takes focus and constant repetition.
Promise to forgive yourself if you slip up. Remind yourself that all failures are temporary and that you can get right back to your healthy habit. Go into this with compassion and respect for yourself.
Step 3 – Create Routines That Support Good Habits
Next, you want to create routines that will support you in achieving your goal. The idea is to set up routines that make it easy to say “yes” to healthy choices and “no” to unhealthy choices. That way you don’t have to use as much willpower to stick to your new healthy habits.
Take the example of the person who usually stops by their favorite bar every day after work and then drinks too much. Rather than driving past every day and trying to resist the urge to stop in “just for one drink,” it would be easier to simply take a different route home from work every day. Keep temptation at a distance whenever possible.
Also, don’t just stop an old habit, replace it with a new one. In our example, instead of going home after work instead of to the bar every day, this person could go to a yoga class after work each day instead. Or a CrossFit class. Or a meetup for people who love comics. Whatever activity you replace your old habit with, make sure it is the kind of healthy fun you personally enjoy.
Step 4 – Set Yourself Up for Success
Give yourself healthy rewards for taking desired steps, even small ones. Train your brain and your body to crave those healthy choices.
Realize that you don’t have an unlimited supply of willpower. Notice if there are certain times of day or circumstances when you are particularly likely to cave in and make an unhealthy choice. Lack of willpower, especially when we’re tired, hungry or stressed doesn’t make you weak, it just means you’re human. Plan around it.
If you make a lapse in judgment or give in to a craving, quickly forgive yourself and return to your healthy habits. You may fall down, but you don’t have to stay down.
Every day you will face the choice to continue in the right direction or abandon your course. You are not powerless to your addiction. Repeatedly making steady changes will create new healthy habits that last a lifetime.
Step 5 – Seek Out Help When Needed
It’s easy to decide that you’re going to beat your addiction, especially when your motivation is strong enough to fight through the withdrawal and discomfort you may feel. But the real challenge comes when motivation decreases. You may be more likely to succeed if you seek out help to get through the tough times.
Getting help doesn’t mean you are weak, or even necessarily that you require help, it simply means that you recognize when a job would be easier with more than one person handling the work. Drug and alcohol addictions can be especially difficult to overcome, which is why so many people seek out treatment.
By reaching out for assistance – from a friend, a coach, a therapist, a treatment program – you are more likely to achieve your immediate goal, and you can then take on your next goal. Over time, you can keep setting new goals until you achieve the big goals you’re ultimately after.
We Can Help You Achieve Your Sober Lifestyle
At Elevate, we do so much more than help people quit drugs and alcohol. We empower our clients with the tools to help themselves achieve the long-term results they truly want in life.
Because we understand this is a long-term process of change, our inpatient treatment program is 90 days, instead of 30 days like most other programs. Clients move through our program at their own pace based on their unique needs. And our aftercare program continues to provide support in the months afterward as they build a new sober life.
While only you can commit to change, you don’t have to go through the change by yourself. You are more likely to succeed with help.
Contact us to tell us about your situation and we can help you decide what type of support is appropriate in your situation.