We all have some unhealthy and unhelpful habits that we just can’t seem to let go of, no matter how many exercises and activities we try. To some, the siren call of their smartphone is an unhealthy habit and for some, it’s the pull of delicious (yet unhealthy) snacks. No matter the kind of unhelpful habit, they can be powerful and can steer us away from the healthy course of life.
So, how to let go of these unhelpful habits without losing your behavior in the process? Enter – Urge Surfing.
Urge surfing is a mindfulness technique that has gained attraction and popularity in today’s world to help break free of the unhelpful habits we seem to be unable to let go of. Let’s understand what is urge surfing and can this mental technique truly help us overcome our unhelpful habits.
List of Contents
What is Urge Surfing?The Benefits of Urge SurfingHow Urge Surfing Helps Break Unhelpful Habits?Tips to Use Urge Surfing Mindfully
What is Urge Surfing?
Urge surfing is a mindfulness-based technique that comes from the many techniques of dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), a therapeutic approach that emphasizes acceptance and change. This activity draws an interesting parallel to ocean waves (as the name suggests!). Just as waves rise, peak, and then fall away, the urge to engage in unhelpful or unwanted habits can follow a similar pattern.
The core concept of urge surfing is acknowledging our urges without judgment, observing their ebb and flow, and in the end, allowing them to fall away or break free naturally.
While this mental technique was developed to aid in addiction recovery, it has been used in other areas of improvement as well. The urge surfing technique aims to distract yourself from the urge while observing and letting it go without engaging in it. Avoiding an urge makes it less likely to be ignored, so urge surfing helps you to acknowledge the urge and the feelings that come with it but then let it go away like a surfer riding the waves.
The Benefits of Urge Surfing
It might not sound like it, but urge surfing has various benefits that you can reap. Some of the benefits of urge surfing can include;
1. It helps increase awareness. Urge surfing allows you to cultivate an awareness of your impulses and urges as well as what triggers them. Just by observing the sensations, urges, and feelings you can understand how your habits work and affect you.
2. It helps reduce reactivity. Rather than giving in to your impulses and urges, urge surfing teaches you to respond and react mindfully. This action reduces the knee-jerk responses that often kick-start unhelpful habits.
3. It helps improve your self-control. As you practice urge surfing, you develop better self-control over your actions. By acknowledging and riding out the waves of urges, you can learn how to better choose and respond to your impulses and urges rather than being controlled by your habits.
4. It helps reduce stress. When you practice urge surfing, you can learn to let go of the stress and anxiety that often come with the struggle of resisting unwanted habits. Accepting that the urge is there instead of avoiding it or ignoring it can reduce the emotional distress that accompanies it.
How Urge Surfing Helps Break Unhelpful Habits?
Breaking unwanted and unhealthy habits can be challenging but with urge surfing, you can learn to accept the presence of the urges mindfully and change your behavior for the better. Urge surfing encourages you to observe your urges and impulses with curiosity rather than criticism. This change in perspective can help break the cycle of guilt and shame that often accompanies the habits.
Instead of giving in to your urges, urge surfing allows you to “ride the wave”, meaning that you allow your urge to reach its peak and then subside naturally without engaging in it. Over time, the intensity of your urges, too, decreases.
The urge surfing technique also teaches us that urges are not definitive of their identity. They are passing phenomena that do not define who you are as a person.
Tips to Use Urge Surfing Mindfully
So, how to use urge surfing to break your habits and bring a change in your life? Check out these tips to use urge surfing to your benefit;
1. Identify your triggers
Recognize the urges, emotions, and feelings that trigger your habit. The idea is to understand where your urges are coming from and how you can naturally avoid them.
2. Pause and breathe
When an urge arises, pause and just breathe for a while. Allow yourself to acknowledge the urge without judging yourself for it or without engaging in it.
3. Observe the sensations
Pay attention to the sensations that come with the urges. Allow yourself to feel the emotions, mental activity, and physical sensations that come with the urges. Describe them without judgment.
4. Breathe and ride the waves
Sit in a comfortable position, close your eyes, and just take a few deep breaths while allowing the urge to rise and fall, like a wave. Take this time to remind yourself that the urge will pass like an ocean wave.
5. Figure out a distraction
If you feel the need, then redirect your attention to a healthy and positive distraction that has nothing to do with your urge. You can go for a short walk, practice deep breathing, or engage in a DIY activity.
6. Be patient
Know that breaking habits takes time so if you don’t feel any change immediately, be patient with yourself. Understand that progress isn’t linear, and every good thing takes time to show fruit. Keep practicing and keep riding the waves in the meantime,
Urge surfing is a mindfulness practice and a powerful mental tool if you want to break free from unwanted and unhelpful habits that you can’t seem to let go of. When you practice surfing, it builds self-awareness and self-control. All you need to do is ride the waves of urges as you would while surfing the ocean.
Remember, the journey to break free of your habits might take time, but gradually, you’ll succeed. Urge surfing can be your compass to guide you on how to live a mindful life, free of unhealthy habits and urges.
I hope this blog helped you understand what is urge surfing and how it can help you break free of your unhelpful habits. Let me know what you think about the article in the comments section below.
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