Let’s talk gambling
5 steps to staying gamble-free
By: Aimee Oliveri (Clinical Psychologist) & Dr Anastasia Hronis (Clinical Psychologist)
The journey of gambling recovery (much like life) is filled with ups and downs, and it's not uncommon to experience fluctuations in motivation. At times, you may feel determined and ready to conquer your goals, while at other times the temptation to give in can be overwhelming. In order to stay on track with your recovery journey, it's important to find ways to maintain motivation. Below are some strategies to help you stay committed to your recovery, regardless of what challenges you may face.
1. Take Note of What Motivates You
During moments of low motivation, temptation can overpower logic and it can be easy to forget the reasons why you quit or reduced gambling. To combat this, create a list of all the reasons why you chose to stop gambling in the first place. Think of both the short-term reasons and long-term reasons that motivated to you stop or reduce gambling. Also consider motivations in different aspects of your life, such as relationships, work, personal goals, and most importantly, your feelings about yourself. Understanding the benefits of your recovery journey will help you prioritise your goals and maintain motivation even during challenging times. Keep this list easily accessible and review it regularly, especially when you’re struggling with motivation.
2. Set up a consistent schedule
Consistency plays an important role in building motivation and resilience, and establishing a daily routine can help with this. A consistent routine helps the brain adapt and rewire, creating new neural pathways that are associated with healthier behaviours. A routine can also help to combat boredom, enhances sleep, mental well-being, and reduces impulsivity. When planning your routine, be sure to identify various activities or goals you can pursue with the time and money you save when not gambling, such as productive tasks, exercise, hobbies, self-care, and spending time with family and friends.
3. Create an action plan
Consider all the factors that may have contributed to your gambling behaviour in the past and plan ahead to navigate these challenges. This is a proactive approach to ensure that you don't get derailed from your goals or succumb to temptations. For instance, take control of your finances by having management strategies or restrictions to make sure you make mindful decisions when handling money. During high-risk times when gambling was typical, consider engaging in replacement activities, such as playing a team sport or seeing a friend. Additionally, you can limit exposure by blocking access to certain platforms or setting up content filters. It's also beneficial to devise a backup plan for moments when things don't go as expected or when you’re feeling particularly vulnerable.
4. Maintain Overall Wellness
Physical and emotional wellbeing plays a crucial role in staying committed to your recovery. When we take care of ourselves physically and emotionally, we reduce our vulnerability to stress and emotional dysregulation. Examples include regular exercise, a consistent sleep-wake schedule, eating a balanced diet, and restricting use of mood-altering substances (this includes caffeine!). Taking care of your overall wellness will enhance your ability to regulate emotions and make effective decisions, especially during challenging moments.
5. Track Your Progress
When we are at our lowest, we may feel like we’re not making any progress. However, it’s important to remember that progress is not a straight line. Keeping a record of your recovery journey can provide evidence of your growth and achievements, as well as the various peaks and troughs you may have had throughout your recovery and how you overcame them. Seeing how far you've come can be a powerful motivator, reminding you of your capabilities and resilience.
Maintaining motivation during the gambling recovery journey is not always easy, but it is possible with effective strategies in place. If you are struggling with gambling, it's important to know that you are not alone and that help is available. For more support on this topic or any gambling issue, call Gambler’s Help on 1800 858 858 or visit our Find Support page for more options.
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