Unwanted behaviors are usually attempts to manage stress, anxiety and overwhelming emotions. Sometimes our attempts turn into problems rather than solutions, but guilt, shame and self-punishment do not help. In fact, they usually create exactly what we are trying to avoid: stress, anxiety and discomfort.
Stress-reduction and good self-care are essential components to long-lasting behavior change. Become aware of your mind-body vulnerabilities. Most of us resort to unhealthy behaviors when we are tired, hungry or emotionally triggered. Reduce your stress by slowing down, doing yoga, meditating, gardening, exercising, laughing, helping others or seeking support from positive friends and family.
Throughout your day, practice simple yet powerful stress-reduction tools like stopping to take five slow, deep belly breaths. Count out each breath or think of a word such as “calm” or “let go”. Importantly, learn to balance the need to change with acceptance and self-compassion: “The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change” - Carl Rogers.