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A Strategy for Dealing with Unhealthy Urges

Ok, so the bad news is that urges to engage in disordered eating, self-harm, substance use, or other unhealthy behaviors can feel reaaaaally intense.

The good news is… urges don’t stay that powerful forever! They build and peak like a giant wave, eventually losing force and coming back down. Which is why, I often encourage clients to “ride the wave” of their urge. In dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), it’s called urge surfing. Here are some tips for urge surfing.

Practice non-judgmental mindfulness. Meaning, instead of fighting against or judging your urges as bad, be curious about them. Take some time to become more aware of your thoughts and emotions, and what you feel in your body. Journaling can help in becoming more mindful or try a guided meditation like this one.

If we sit with urges instead of giving in or totally running from them, our urges can teach us important lessons about what we truly need in that moment. Remind yourself that the urge is temporary. Have some affirmations you can repeat to yourself while you breath slowly and deeply. Some examples are,

“It’s okay to be uncomfortable for a little while” or “Feelings come and go and so will these.”

Use a coping skill if you need to. Sometimes, the urge feels so strong, we might need coping skills to get us through the most intense part before we can practice mindfulness. Text a friend, watch TV or listen to music, practice a hobby or try something else distracting that you typically enjoy. Urges are a normal, albeit challenging, part of recovery. Over time, the more you practice urge surfing, the less intense your urges will be… until eventually, you won’t have them very often anymore, if ever!

Much love,
Cherie Signature

I’m Cherie Miller, MS, LPC-S, founder of Nourished Soul Center for Healing and @foodfreedomtherapist on Instagram. We offer therapy and nutrition counseling for chronic dieting as well eating disorders like Anorexia, Bulimia, Binge Eating Disorder, Orthorexia, ARFID, and other food issues. As anti-diet professionals, we are passionate about intuitive eating and Health at Every Size philosophies. Contact us here to schedule a therapy or nutrition appointment.


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