Urge Surfing

Urge Surfing

The overwhelming urge of a craving can be triggered by a variety of reasons, and more often than not these urges are triggered by out emotions. 'Urge Surfing' is a technique that encourages you to 'ride the wave' of an urge by acknowledging it without necessarily giving in to the action you crave (e.g. eating a particular food).

The process involves paying close attention to the sensations, thoughts, and emotions associated with the craving before 'riding it out' as it naturally peaks and falls. Doing so can help you develop a increased awareness of your triggers, a deeper understanding of the root causes behind the resulting cravings, and finally, the resilience to ride it out.

A step-by-step guide to 'urge surfing':

  1. Acknowledge the urge and craving that you are feeling for a particular food/drink.
  2. Take a moment to stop and reflect on what's going on with you at that time—your emotions, feelings, circumstances, etc. Try to identify what is driving your urge. Make a note of this in your diary.
  3. Without trying to alter or suppress your feelings, try to distance yourself from the situation or feeling as you ride the natural progression of an urge.
  4. Urges can be uncomfortable and unpleasant, but remember that they will ease and eventually resolve. Aim to wait for 15-20 minutes.
  5. During this time, reflect on the following:some text
    • Urges are temporary feelings—you have the power to say no and resist them.
    • It's normal to develop strong cravings for specific foods.
    • The intensity of a craving will rise and peak before naturally passing.
    • It's normal to feel uncomfortable and agitated during the process.
  6. In the aftermath of an urge and craving, take time to reflect on what caused it and why. Is this something that you can pre-empt and plan around in the future by managing triggers?

Managing Triggers

Knowing your triggers ahead of time and having a strategy or technique prepared for each one can help reduce how strongly you feel an urge. Examples include deep breathing if stressed, eating if genuinely hungry, leaving a location if it is high-risk for certain emotions, or asking people around you for support if you know an upcoming situation comes with emotional baggage.

Delay & Distract

Do something to take your mind off the urge. Every minute you delay increases the chance of the urge weakening on its own. Examples include going for a walk, listening to music, calling a friend, reading a book, or practising a hobby.

It's important to be kind and patient in the process of urge surfing—as it won't immediately or always lead to resisting the craving. That said, through consistent practice, you can start building a healthier relationship with food. In essence, urge surfing helps to challenge pre-established habit cycles and find alternative solutions for managing triggers.

August 31, 2023
Written by
Robbie Green
Reviewed by

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