This article originally appeared in Counsellor Sam and has been reposted with permission.
It might sound strange, but deciding to make a change to your gambling can be just like getting fit. Here are our tips to 'get in shape'.
Many of us have been on a fitness journey: we’ve signed up for the gym, gone to exercise classes, perhaps met with a personal trainer. We’ve made big changes to our diets and organised our lives around a new routine. We’ve made the choice to focus on our health and made a big effort to improve our physical health. We take steps to help our bodies grow fit and strong.
If we stick with it, we’ve often been met with success. Over time, we notice changes in our bodies and energy levels. We get into a good routine and slowly see progress in other areas of our lives. Our day-to-day routine gets easier. It’s great to see that hard work and commitment pays off with good results. Often the results are enough to help us sustain the behaviour.
Changing your gambling habits can be the same.
Personal trainers and fitness gurus use motivational principles that are based on psychology: set goals. Work towards them. Take one step at a time. They’re the same principles we recommend you follow when you decide to take control of your gambling.
Here are our tips to ‘get in shape’:
Focus on change
Identify the problem areas and your desired outcome. In the gym, that might mean you want to lose fat and add muscle. When it comes to gambling, you might want to stop altogether or decide you only want to cut down. Identify your goal, and keep it in your mind.
Examine your behaviour
Identify the areas of your life that are motivating you to change, and the things that might be stopping you. Consider your routine: what kinds of situations prompt you to gamble? Which situations help you to resist? Understand your behaviour and use it to your advantage.
You’ve already identified your primary goal, but when we set big goals they can seem unattainable. Break your goal down into smaller, manageable goals with deadlines. Think about what you need to do to achieve your goals, and what stands in your way. Consider what resources are available to help you.
Check in with your ‘trainer’
Just like having a workout group or personal trainer, having someone to check in with weekly is invaluable when you’re trying to make a change. You might ask a trusted family member or friend to help, or reach out to a professional Gambling Help counsellor. You might seek help from both your loved ones and a professional. Week by week, as a client goes through situations that are challenging, triggering or successful, having a friend or counsellor to debrief with, brainstorm solutions to issues and celebrate successes with, is fundamental. Making any change in life is difficult. Research shows that having social and professional support helps you to reach your goals.
Are you ready to ‘get fit’? For many people, there has been a time when they have changed their behaviour significantly, because of a personal goal, or because it felt necessary. The first step is almost always making a decision to change. The next step is often finding someone with the tools to help you.
If you are interested in making the first step towards changing your gambling, call us at Gambling Help on 1800 858 858 to speak to a trained gambling counsellor who can help you get started on your journey.
You might also like to ‘Check-in’ on your gambling, by trying this free Gambling check-in tool.