If you have a strong urge to play, it may feel like it is uncontrollable and you don’t really have a choice but to give in. Instead, examine what you’re thinking and feeling at that moment and you should be able to identify the specific triggers that make you want to play. Examples include:
- Everpresent access to the game on the phone
- Watching a sporting/gaming event
- Receiving marketing messages about playing
- Talking about playing
- Receiving an unexpected bill or expense
Internal Triggers (Changes in thoughts, feelings and attitudes)
- Changes in feelings, e.g. depression, loneliness, boredom, anger/frustration, impatience, overconfidence, mood swings
- Finding reasons or making excuses to return to gaming
- Denying or ‘forgetting’ how bad the problem has been
- Defeatism (e.g. now I’ve started, I’ve blown it anyway)
- Unrealistic goals or expectations
- Stress at home or work
- Communication issues
- Being invited to game
- Expecting changes from others
How to handle urges?
When you find yourself tempted or experience urges to play, it is only natural for you to start doubting your abilities to control or resist them. The key is to stay in control by refocusing and remaining calm. Here’s how:
Step 1: Give yourself time
Urges are like waves. They build-up and reach their peak, and then they subside, irrespective of whether you act on them or not. Try not to respond to these urges. Chances are that they will subside soon enough.
Step 2: Describe the urges or temptations you are feeling
Put whatever you’re feeling and experiencing into words. Jot them down or share them with a loved one who you know wouldn’t judge you. This will help you deal with the urges better.
Step 3: Ask yourself, "What’s my bottom line?"
Give it some careful thought - how important is it to get your habit under control? Recall that you are the one who chooses your next steps. Make your choice.
When facing overwhelming urges or a slip:
- Stay calm. Distance yourself and reflect on what just happened.
- Delay thoughts related to gaming urges
- Distract with other activities that are equally enjoyable
- Take 10-15 deep breaths to refocus
- Identify the thoughts that tell you to exceed your limits
- Remember that results are unpredictable, and each play is independent
- Strategy works only to some extent; your control over the outcome is minimal if at all
- Remind yourself of the efforts you’ve put into trying to overcome your habit, so far
- Remind yourself why it’s important to control your habit
- Seek help from others if all of the above fail.