We made it to the last few days of July! Did a particular topic resonate with you? Do you know someone who could benefit from the advice shared one the past several weeks? All the hard work can go to naught, if we don’t know how to prevent a relapse.
Relapse is a term usually referring to alcohol and drugs. However, it can be applied to any habit. Maybe you stuck to your diet for weeks, and then overindulged at an office birthday party. Maybe you went 10 years without a cigarette, and then bought a pack when you broke up with your boyfriend or girlfriend. Remember that your ultimate success in developing healthy habits is more important than any backsliding. Think of relapses as part of a process, rather than unpredictable events. If you pay attention to what you’re feeling and thinking, you may be able to avoid a setback.
Try these techniques:
- Deal with emotions. Your feelings may be the first sign that you’re headed for a fall. Accepting your anger and sadness will help you find new and more constructive ways of managing them.
- Build support. Surround yourself with family and friends who will encourage you and give you useful feedback. Let them know how they can help you. You might want to search for support groups in your community or participate in forums online.
- Know your triggers. You sometimes need to limit contact with old friends who engage in the habit you’re trying to break. Certain places or situations could also make you vulnerable to relapsing.
- Wait it out. What if you have an urge to go on a shopping spree or bite your nails? Try waiting 5 or 10 minutes to see if it passes. It’s a quick solution that often works.
- Seek moderation. Being too strict with yourself can backfire. A restrictive diet makes junk food look more tempting. Allowing yourself a low-calorie dessert like fruit could help you avoid binging on donuts and cheesecake.
- Focus on consequences. Before you take a step backwards, think through what will happen. Is wasting time on social media causing you trouble at work?
- Practice self-care. Protecting your physical and mental wellbeing is essential for reaching your goals. Eat sensible amounts of whole foods, exercise regularly, and make sleep a top priority.
Recovering From a Relapse
If it’s too late to prevent a relapse, you can still turn things around. Put your mistakes behind you and keep building on the progress you’ve already made. Some or all of these strategies will help you get back on track.
- Face the truth. It can be difficult to admit that you’ve relapsed. Be honest with yourself and take accountability for your decisions.
- Remember your purpose. It may help to think about your original reasons for making changes in your life. They may be so compelling that you’ll be ready to try again, or you may need to find another source of motivation.
- Forgive yourself. Be kind and compassionate toward yourself, especially while you’re struggling. Use your self-talk to boost your confidence. Let go of the past and concentrate on what you can do today.
- Break it down. Trying to make lifelong commitments may seem overwhelming. Pick a time frame that’s realistic for you. You might aim to sustain your new habits for a single day or even an hour at a time.
- Take action. Regain momentum by taking a positive step forward immediately. If you’re trying to stop overspending, leave your credit cards at home unless you’re planning to make a specific purchase. If you want to cut down on complaining, start a gratitude journal.
Think of relapses as a learning opportunity that helps you to find out more about yourself. Each time you temporarily lose a little ground, you gain more insight into what you need to do to make positive changes in your life.
Use these free worksheets to help you sty focused.
To Your Success,