6 Strategies to gain control over your impulsive behavior

6 Strategies to gain control over your impulsive behavior

When you act on impulses, you don’t consider the long-term negative consequences. You can learn strategies to reduce impulsive behaviors such as substance use, shopping, eating, gambling, etc., and increase self-control. Self-control is a learned behavior. People who are impulsive can learn to be more in control of their behaviors. These strategies can help you manage many problematic impulsive behaviors:

  1. Avoid challenging situations that encourage greater impulsiveness (e.g., drinking alcohol, being eating, shopping).
  2. Delay your response by building in a pause. Encourage yourself to wait for some brief period of time before giving in to your impulses. Start with 5 seconds, and over time, increase the delay period. Remember, always choose realistic and attainable goals.
  3. Self-talk: talk yourself into staying calm and resisting your immediate impulse. \
    • Verbalize your need to stay calm
    • Talk to yourself about preparing for the situation
    • Talk to yourself about not giving in to the urge- think about the consequences and remind yourself you have a choice.
    • Tell yourself to stay calm despite distress, excitement or arousal.
  4. Reduce your distress or arousal by:
    • Deep breathing
    • Turning away from the situation and counting backward from 20.
    • Bringing to mind a calming or distracting image.
  5. Engage in alternative activities when you begin to feel impulses or urges to eat or at times when you might be most likely to give in to impulsive behavior.
  6. Exposure-prevention: place yourself in a situation in which there is some temptation for impulsive behavior (e.g., going to the mall) but prevent yourself from doing it, wither at all or for some time (delay). This strategy might be best accomplished with a friend- but only a friend who understands that you might still give in to your impulses at some point.

Choose one or more of these strategies to practice this week.

If you would like support in treating your addiction, please call 424.362.5965 and make an appointment with one of our addiction specialists.

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