How to break workplace addictions for a positive 2018

Karen Meager and John McLachlan,co-founders, Monkey Puzzle Training

Source: @Photoshot

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The word ‘addiction’ has many negative connotations attached to it, so it’s only natural that when we hear it, we jump straight to those that have an undeniably damaging effect on the body, such as alcohol, tobacco and drugs. But because addiction is all about the behaviours that compel people to use such substances, it is a wide field, and can apply to the most surprising things that don’t spark such terror. Such behaviours are often exhibited in the workplace, and can cause detriment to productivity and team dynamic. Here are four essential steps to ridding yourself of these behaviours and becoming a more positive person.

Identify your triggers

Habit is the source of most addictive behaviours, and people tend to exhibit these behaviours when exposed to a trigger. This could be anything from particular places or times of the day, or even seeing something. If you tend to zone out at work and see your colleagues doing so, you are more likely to let yourself do the same; if you’re trying to cut down on smoking but your colleague goes for a cigarette, you are more likely to accept defeat and join them; if someone keeps buying donuts to share at work, you are more likely to keep snacking.

Identify your need

Thoughts and emotions play heavily into addictive, but because these behaviours become routine so quickly, the habit itself often drowns out the thought process behind it. Stop and think about what result you take from your behaviour that makes it so compelling: does it make you feel happy, or give you a fleeting moment of satisfaction, or relieve stress? And what do you feel once you have indulged that compulsion: do you feel guilty or disappointed in yourself, or relieved or happy? Chop that thought process up into stages to examine it closer and consider what it is you’re looking for through your addiction.

Replace your habit

Once you have identified what reward it is that you seek through your addiction, you can begin to consider how you will move beyond it, and many people find it helpful to replace one habit with a more constructive one. If you constantly find yourself wasting time, try doing an hour’s work on one task before moving on to another, and keep the mix going until you finish them - this will bring variety and stop you getting bored. If it’s snacking that you need to cut back on, what foods could you replace them with to keep your physical health from declining? If you give it some thought, you can find substitutes for your addictions that have far less negative impact on your life and performance.

Learn to relax

Having explored the thoughts and emotions that lie behind addiction, you’ll notice that these behaviours are often a response to some problem, worry or skewed perspective. Finding healthy and effective ways to relieve stress and unwind is the fourth crucial step to conquering addictive behaviour. Music works for some; comedy works for others; some find great relief in aromatherapy and essential oils. Whatever yours turns out to be, it is an important tool in your arsenal when fighting against addictive behaviour and becoming a healthier and more productive version of yourself.

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