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Can Mindfulness Help Us Manage Cravings?

When we’re hit with addictive cravings and temptation, we can feel overwhelmed and overpowered, scared we’ll relapse and fall off the wagon, retreating back into our addictive patterns. Sometimes the onslaught of the accompanying challenging emotions – fear, shame, insecurity, self-hate – can be so forceful and overwhelming that they contribute to the temptation we’re already feeling, making us want to escape them with our drug of choice. This can make us that much more likely to give in to the craving. Oftentimes we don’t even know how to cope with our cravings. We feel like our efforts are futile, and we assume that resisting them is impossible. We don’t feel strong enough to withstand them. Can mindfulness help us to manage our cravings?

Mindfulness teaches us the critically important skill of observing our thoughts and feelings. When we’re mindful, we’re able to see a feeling for what it is – it’s temporary, and it can only overpower us if we allow it to. The same is true for cravings and all the thoughts and emotions that come along with them. When we mindfully observe a craving, we see that it usually only lasts a few minutes, and then passes. We can move through it and feel it as it recedes, diminishing in strength and severity the longer we sit with it. When we aren’t mindful on the other hand, we tend to react to cravings with panic. Our fear causes us to assume we won’t be able to overcome the craving, so we give in prematurely, often without really trying, without giving it our full effort to see that we are in fact stronger than it. We don’t give the craving a chance to pass. When we lack mindfulness, we also tend to make assumptions about our emotions, namely that they are stronger than we are, and that there’s nothing we can do about them. When we are mindful, we see firsthand how much power we actually have to control our thoughts and feelings and to respond to addictive urges with calm and balance.

Crisis Skills for Powerful Urges

When an urge arises, we can mindfully do a couple of things. We can try timing the craving to see how long it lasts. This shows us clearly what we’re working with, so that the next time a craving hits, we’re that much more prepared. It also serves as a very helpful tool to help us sit with the craving and allow it to pass, rather than reacting to it and acting on it. We can also use writing, another mindfulness tool, and try writing down all the thoughts and feelings that are coming up for us, what brought on the craving, and how we’re successfully working through it.

At The Guest House Ocala, our recovery programs include many experiential modalities including traditional therapy, conscious connected breathwork, equine therapy, somatic experiencing, art in healing, grief therapy, mindfulness and other forms of therapy. Call 855-483-7800 today for more information.