The Nine Natural Steps are, at a basic level, about identifying and changing bad habits. The ways we use to cope with stress are the first level of our habits that my forthcoming book Stress Pandemic addresses. Bad habits can lead to unhealthy lifestyle decisions such as drinking, smoking and over-eating, which are not only damaging but can be—as I wrote in an earlier blog (titled “Lifestyle diseases”)—deadly.
The second step in The Lifestyle Solution is called “Kick Your Bad Habits”. A habit is any action that we have performed so often that it becomes almost an involuntary response. If we consider this habit to be detrimental to our well-being then it becomes a “bad habit.” People spend immense amounts of time and money each year attempting to break these bad habits, often to no avail. Why? Because the only cure lies in change, and change requires hard work and discipline and does not offer any short cuts.
Most of us develop identifiable habits as coping mechanisms for stress. To master stress, it is essential to overcome these coping mechanisms so that you might deal with stress head on. You can then become more aware of the cause(s) of your stress which empowers you to address issues directly, rather than allowing them to grow and become damaging. We tend to use a coping mechanism as a distraction, they are aids that we develop on as a way of avoiding stress. These coping mechanisms mask the true stress you are experiencing in your life, preventing you from dealing with the source of the problem. As a result, the stress in your life can grow and become truly harmful if it remains left unchecked.
You have to be prepared to identify your addictions in life. Addictions are coping mechanisms which are the crutches you lean on when you need to be released from stress. After speaking with many people who live with serious addictions, I have found that most addictions form gradually, over time. Well known examples of such crutches are: recreational drugs, smoking, gambling, food, sex, prescription drugs and anything else that we turn to in order to medicate stress. When you understand that you are medicating yourself with addictions you are embracing an awareness that will help you on the path toward well-being and optimal health.
Key Tips On How To Kick Your Bad Habits:
* Observe how you spend your time, noticing if certain patterns feel more “addictive,” or like a “release,” than enjoyable.
* Consider whether or not these patterns are harmful to your well-being, or limit your true enjoyment of life.
* Resolve to overcome your coping mechanisms, beginning with one at a time, and taking on what you can comfortably manage as you free yourself from harmful habits.
* Gradually decrease your dependence on each addictive pattern, monitoring your daily progress in writing.
* Continue monitoring the addiction until you have completed a thirty-day period of total independence from the pattern.
* Recognize that beating addictions takes time and can be challenging, and that your practice of all of the nine steps will assist in freeing you from coping mechanisms
Coping mechanisms are an artificial way of combating stress. Confronting them is one of the most powerful things you can do. Remember that it will take time, but that by identifying your addictions and deciding to overcome them, you have already begun the process of breaking bad cycles in your life. As you put the other steps in the book into practice, they will also support you in beating your addictions. All of the nine steps of The Lifestyle Solution are interdependent, reinforcing one another in supporting your well-being, strength, and freedom from stress.