At one stage or another, we have all been addicted to something, whether it was a time we couldn’t stop eating too much, smoking or drinking, taking drugs, or having too much screen time or excessively relying on technology. Each of these things on there own or in brief moderation, like on a special holiday or during a relaxing vacation may not be the worst thing ever but when they have a negative impact on our daily lives, it may be time to find ways to reduce or eliminate the things we are addicted to.
Its that negative impact that we need to pay attention to. Obviously, if a drug or alcohol addiction is so severe that it has compromised employment, housing, family, security, and of course, health, then large steps need to be taken. Similarly, in the case of overeating, health is compromised to the point of needing hospitalization or surgery, the negative impact has escalated to the point where intervening is unavoidable.
But maybe we are at a point where the negative impact is less obvious. For example, we have gained an extra 20 or 30 pounds but we can still get to work, its just a little more uncomfortable trying on cloths. Or perhaps our drinks with friends on Friday night have somehow become a drink or two after work every day, with friends or alone, it doesn’t really matter, it has become more about the drink than the friends, if we thought about it. Is this a big deal? Perhaps, if we look at the more severe scenarios, did they start out this way?
We all need to have a little fun and find ways to decompress and handle stress in our daily lives. Sometimes the things we do help, and sometimes they are a quick fix that do more harm than good. How do we distinguish between the two? “Does it feel good?” is not an accurate barometer. Eating that take-out burger feels good. Its super delicious, but does it fill us up? That first beer when we arrive home after work feels good. Instantly, it is easier to laugh and feel less stressed, but the third or the fourth one? Not so nice and getting up in the morning is more and more of a nightmare. Then we are just getting through the day, just to get to that first-beer feeling when we get home again, sometimes even sacrificing almost everything else. Sure, we still get to work, pay our bills, take care of the necessities, but is there a better way?
What if these small addictive behaviors were trying to fix something? Perhaps there is a wound that we are trying to heal, and we are just reaching for the fasted trick to either help us feel better or help us forget there is a problem at all. If we spend time with folks who are suffering in a severe addiction scenario, often there is a severe wound or trauma in their history to go with it. Is there something else we can do to heal our wounds rather than reaching for the next quick fix or escape? Yes! Here are a couple of things to try that may help before going back to that little bad habit.
Eat more healthy
Following on the theory that food is medicine, endeavoring to ensure we meet our nutritional needs can go a long way to fighting addiction. Reaching for that fast-food burger is largely due to being hungry and possibly having nutrient deficiencies. Similarly, a large part of alcohol withdrawal is that alcohol washes nutrients out of our system, and we are trying to replace them by any means possible. Starting with just over-the-counter vitamins can help replenish some nutrient deficiencies. Organizing our day around healthy food may seem out of reach, but small changes can go a long way to filling us up. Having a healthy breakfast just one or two days a week to start with and seeing how it goes. Or having healthy snacks on hand, so we can grab a handful of almonds or eat an apple, just to see if that makes it easier to stop at one after-work drink. No matter what bad habit we are trying to conquer, being nutritionally satisfied will provide better nourishment for our mind to help us make better decisions while our bodies won’t be craving nutrients that we are lacking, maybe creating a scenario where we are less likely to reach for that next quick fix.
Other ways to fill up
Now that we have replenished some of our nutrients, our mind and bodies are better able to distinguish between good and bad habits. Connecting with friends over social media might be exactly what we need, or it might have us in a comparison loop that makes us not feel great about ourselves. Negotiating what is working for us and what isn’t is a great start. Here are a few other things that we know are good for us that can help us kick addictive bad habits out of our lives.
1. Get more rest and relaxation
Taking some down time can reduce stress and help us be more balanced. When we are relaxed and rejuvenated, our perspective about our choices may be clearer.
2. Sleep well
Increasing our sleep quality and quantity also goes along way towards being healthier and happier. Having a good sleep routine, going to bed, and getting up at the same time everyday can help, as can some sleep-benefiting herbs, such as chamomile tea, or lavender- and bergamot-scented bedding.
3. Enjoy yourself
Often, when we are facing withdrawal, we may tend to lean into the suffering of it, white knuckling through the mind-over-matter, willpower dogma. What if instead, we try to celebrate every little success. We can choose our reaction to celebrate or we can beat ourselves up. Celebrating the small successes and enjoying every little milestone moves us closer to enjoying the reality of obtaining the goal of removing that unwanted habit from our day.
Learning habits that reward our wanted behaviors, letting ourselves relax, rejuvenate, and enjoy a good night’s sleep, in addition to making sure we meet our nutritional needs can help us change our addictive habits in a way that may change and improve our lives overall. Recognizing our addictive patterns can also help us make moves to make small changes before things move beyond our control.
Sherra is a prolific writer who is continually honing eloquent writing skills. She is passionate about health and wellness and the state of society and humanity as a whole. Obsessed with our relationship to the natural world, she continually strives to have as little impact on her surrounding natural environment as possible, while she endeavours to learn everything there is to know about the plants and wildlife that surround her in her rural home in the Canadian Rocky Mountains.