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What should I do when I feel an urge coming on?

What should I do when I feel an urge coming on?

You ask, we answer: what do I do when I feel an urge coming on and how can I manage it? Read more about it in this article from Confidant Health.

When you feel an urge coming on, don’t fight it — ride it. Urge surfing is a mindful and healthy way of identifying and overcoming urges when they emerge. 

An urge can feel like something is pulling you back towards old habits. When you feel an urge coming on, the first step is to identify what caused it. Is it a reaction to an emotion such as stress or anger? 

Then, learn to surf the urge. Urges are like waves in that they gradually rise in intensity, peak, and eventually crash. An urge almost always follows that progression. 

When you think of the urge as a wave, you can ride it without giving in to the craving. 

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Steps to Manage Urges

Just like urges tend to follow the same pattern, so should your response: 

1. Identify the Physical Sensation: 

Pinpoint the part of the body affected. 

2. Become Aware of Sensations: 

Explore how the affected body part feels — Are you dizzy? Tingling? Adjust to becoming fully aware of these sensations instead of avoiding them. 

3. Practice Mindful Breathing: 

Be mindful of your breathing and visualize how the weight, pain, or sensations lessen with each breath. 

4. Stay Present: 

Like a wave, the urge will peak. Anticipate it’s coming, measure your breath, and exhale as the urge crashes. 

Rather than fighting against an urge, ride it by staying mindful, noticing when it peaks, and following it through the crash. Sometimes the wave will pass quickly; other times, it will be more lengthy. 

Ultimately, the wave will always pass. Identifying and riding urges is hard work, so be patient and kind with yourself.

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This article has been medically reviewed by
Erin Hillers
Erin Hillers
Erin Hillers
Nurse Practitioner

Erin is a Nurse Practitioner with 8 years of experience in midwifery and women's health. She has spent the past 5 years specializing in the treatment of opioid and alcohol use disorders.

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