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Urge surfing is a cognition-based intervention and management technique (Lloyd, 2003), which can be used in tandem with Cognitive Defusion (Hulbert-Williams et al., 2019). The basis of Urge surfing is about an individual accepting and observing their own urges and not reacting to them relating through the use of Mindfulness (Shonin & Van Gordon, 2016). This technique is often used not only when treating addiction in its many different forms such as alcohol and drug addiction (Harris et al., 2017), but also aggression, self-management, and people on the Autism spectrum (Singh et al., 2019). Urge surfing expands on the idea of acceptance but promotes the resistance of urges using the metaphor that they are like ocean waves growing and subsiding allowing the individual to regulate their urges to become less frequent and intense (Lloyd, 2003).
You can stop the waves but you can learn to surf (Kabat-Zinn & Zinn, 2013, p. 44).
Trying to ignore or suppress your cravings does not work very well, the more you try not to think about them the more you actually think about them!
So, you do not ignore them you fight them, right?
Well, battling against your cravings does not always work that well either. Sometimes your cravings are just too strong for you to fight, and you relapse. Other times you are able to resist your urges for a while, but you find yourself spending a lot of time and energy each day engaged in an internal back and forth debate about whether or not to give in to your cravings it is like by resisting your cravings you feed them with your mental energy and in response, they grow stronger and occur with more frequency.
Knowing that an urge never lasts forever we can ride out these urges by becoming more aware of their transient nature. The trick is to forget fighting or suppressing cravings. But instead to learn a technique to experience a craving fully, so that you rob that craving of its power over you. Urge surfing is a relapse prevention technique based on the principles of mindfulness meditation.
This preparation will prepare you well to use mindfulness to ride these waves without giving in to the urge. Your brain will have built the new circuitry that makes this process more manageable.
Choose a temptation or urge to practice urge surfing. A few examples could be reading a text message, checking Facebook, or playing a game on your phone.
1. Describe exactly how you felt during this practice. The more specific the better.
How will you practice differently the next time?
When will your next practice be?
The key is to replace the fearful-wish that craving will go away, with interest in the experience. When we do this, we notice the cravings change, crest, and subside like waves in the ocean. In this way, it becomes more manageable.
By learning the Urge Surfing way to experience cravings, you learn a valuable skill in overcoming them. As you learn to experience your cravings in a mindful way, without judging and without giving in, you will find that in time the frequency and intensity with which you experience them will diminish.
That's it! with practice, urges will become easier to ride out. With practice urge surfing gets easier and you may discover that you are an excellent surfer.
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