How to Manage Urges
We all have urges to engage in impulsive actions. Maybe it’s hard to stop yourself from sending an angry text message, purchasing that impulse buy, or pouring yourself one drink too many. If you’re trying to interrupt impulsive actions, try this:
Count to 5: Put some space between urge and action by counting to five. This skill is especially effective if you take deep breaths while you’re counting.
Delay the urge: Urges don’t last forever. In fact, many urges significantly decrease after 15-30 minutes. Set an alarm on your phone to delay the action until a later time. It may be easier to resist the urge in the moment if you give yourself permission to act on it later, but by that point, you won’t be feeling the urge so strongly.
Urge surfing: See if you can get curious about your urges. Take the role of an observer and see what you can learn about this feeling. Ride the wave of your urge.
Bethany Kriegel, LMHC, earned her master’s degree in mental health counseling from Boston College. She has experience working with adults in residential treatment settings, helping those struggling with eating disorders and obsessive-compulsive disorder, among other issues.
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