When times get tough, turning towards a familiar source of temporary comfort may seem like the most natural thing in the world to do. While an occasional junk food or alcohol splurge or even a night at the casino may seem harmless, many people underestimate just how easily unhealthy habits can develop into addictions. People can become addicted to a lot more than just alcohol and drugs; addictions to behaviors and experiences including excessive use of social media and arguing are very real and common. Although it may feel difficult to determine whether a habit is healthy or damaging, it’s important to understand that the choice to engage in unhealthy daily habits can ultimately lead to a serious addiction. Instead of resorting to familiar yet potentially destructive behaviors, practicing healthy ones before a crisis arrives will leave you better prepared to effectively cope and obtain a genuine, lasting source of comfort when you need it the most.
Healthy Vs. Unhealthy Habits
We all need comfort from time to time, yet finding the boundary between healthy and unhealthy habits may seem very gray. You may think little about what types of long-term consequences a night at the bar or casino can have on your life, but in reality, constantly turning to unhealthy behaviors as a source of comfort or distraction sets the stage for a full-blown addiction down the road. Although it may seem like a complicated process, determining which habits serve you and which do not can actually be straightforward. Life enhancing habits will improve your mood, body, social network and/or personal relationships, whereas unhealthy ones will do the opposite. Keeping a journal can help as this practice allows you to review previous choices during moments of clarity. Make sure to write down whatever coping methods you’ve used each day as well as the results that followed to gain a true perspective about which habits are truly helping you reach your personal goals.
Addictions Begin as Day-to-Day Choices
Every addiction begins as a seemingly harmless day-to-day choice. Little by little, choices become habits and habits become addictions, so making wise daily choices is the key to creating a life filled with joy, happiness, and abundance. The chronic gambler who has spent his family’s savings at the casino once thought gambling would just be a fun way to spend the afternoon and alcoholics certainly don’t wake up and decide to drink heavily so that they’ll get fired and/or alienate friends and family. Even if you feel like you are not an addict, if your pattern is to stop by the bar on your way home or to spend hours immersed in social media instead of spending your precious time engaged in life-enhancing behaviors, you’re probably not on the most direct route to the life of your dreams.
Be Proactive When Developing Healthy Habits
Times of crisis are when most daily choices and habits develop into addictions. Although it is possible to use the crisis as a motivator to adopt a totally new lifestyle, it is far easier to be proactive and cultivate healthy habits that will leave you better prepared to handle any crisis if and when one does arrive. Once you have determined which habits and choices are not improving your well-being, think about what you could do to replace those activities and behaviors.
If you are accustomed to having a drink on your way home, try spending that time walking in the park or working out at the gym. Parents who get overly distracted with their computers may decide it’s time to take the little ones out to the zoo or a museum, while a couple trying to save for a down payment on a home may agree to curb unnecessary shopping and spending and instead cuddle up together on the couch to watch a great movie. While every situation is different, meditation may be the single most universally helpful daily habit to make life flow more smoothly.
You’re Stronger Than You Know
Habits and addictions take time to form and they can take time to replace. Remember, the only way you can possibly fail is to give up! Little by little, unhealthy habits can be upgraded to healthy ones with determination and commitment. If you find yourself in need of support along the way, a good therapist or support group may provide the encouragement you need to make it through the tougher moments.