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How do you healthfully manage addictions? When we think of people with addictions, we automatically think about those who smoke, use drugs, or drink alcohol in excess. If we don't fall into these categories, we might assume that we are safe from the power of addiction, but unfortunately, this isn't true.
- How many times have you looked at your smartphone today? (I can't count)
- How many episodes of your favorite show on Netflix have you binge-watched? (I had this problem in SPADES in college)
- How many pieces of chocolate have you consumed this week? (I used to always have a bag of Dove chocolates in my desk drawer...)
These questions all relate to different types of addiction, and while you might not consider yourself 'addicted,' you very well might be if you have excessively fallen prey to a habit.
Below are five addictions. We will briefly discuss each but know this: where you can't healthily manage your addiction alone, seek help. Your doctor can help, as can a counselor or a treatment center, so while our suggestions will be relatively simple, still seek professional help or hire a coach if you are suffering because of your addiction.
Addiction #1: Food
Food can become an addiction when we feel the need to comfort eat—in other words, eating to avoid our feelings. When life happens and we think things that cause stressful feelings, we can turn to food for comfort. If we're not careful, this can become a really bad habit.
Overeating can lead to obesity and binge-eating disorders, both of which can be harmful to a person's health.
Of course, food addiction doesn't always relate to comfort eating. People who enjoy a certain type of food might eat more of it than they should, especially those foods that have addictive qualities. Think pizza, french fries, and chocolate, for example, which are not only tasty but which contain additives that can fuel moreish tendencies.
To manage this addiction, it is important to get on top of those stressors that could lead to comfort eating. By focusing on feeling your feelings, learning relaxation techniques, exercise, and fun activities, it is possible to reduce stress. By replacing the unhealthy foods in your cupboards, you will also manage the addiction, as you won't have the same level of temptation in your home.
For more advice, read this article on how to manage a food addiction.
Addiction #2: Alcohol
People use alcohol to de-stress and sometimes enjoy a glass or two after a tough time at work. People also use alcohol to blank out unpleasant memories or feelings. And people turn to alcohol when they want to have a good time, such as when they are socializing with others.
When taken moderately, alcohol is fine, and there is the reduced risk of addiction and ensuing health effects. However, when a person becomes dependant on alcohol to erase their stresses or to relax around others, it can become an addiction, and this can have fatal consequences.
My grandfather was actually an alcoholic, and died from it.
The best way to avoid becoming addicted to alcohol is to curb how much you drink. If you can replace it with healthier drinks to reduce stress, you won't be tempted to reach for a beer, a glass of wine, or any other such beverage.
A therapist or coach can help you deal with any built-up issues that can lead to drinking. They can help you manage those addictions and move past them.
When socializing, you could do other things to connect with others, instead of meeting up at a bar or at a house party. You could go for walks together, play sports, or take part in other common interests.
Check out these tips for staying sober for further advice.
Addiction #3: The TV
We can all spend more time than we should staring at a TV screen. We might do so because we have little else to fill our time, or we might be head over heels in love with a particular show. An early article published in the New York Times illustrated how people can become addicted to their television screens, so we shouldn't assume that this a harmless pastime.
If you spend more time than you should watching the TV, you need to be aware of the health effects. Despite what your mom told you, your eyes won't turn square, but your vision can become impaired. You will also suffer the health effects of a sedentary lifestyle, and these include obesity, type 2 diabetes, and problems with your heart health.
Too much time in front of the TV can also lead to the other addictions we mentioned, as you might be more prone to eating and drinking while sitting on the sofa. The more you can do to help yourself manage these addictions, the better, and this begins by turning the TV off.
Instead of watching the television, find other things to do with your time. Take part in a hobby you enjoy, such as writing, painting, cooking, or reading. Go for a walk and get some fresh air. And spend time with your family doing other things than sofa sitting. For those shows that you enjoy, watch them in moderation. Schedule time each day for them, but fill the rest of your time with other things to do. By being less reliant on the TV, you will be less prone to addiction.
Here are some other ways to curb your TV addiction.
Addiction #4: Smoking
You don't need us to remind you that smoking is bad for you. The more you smoke, the greater your risk of putting your health in danger. Cigarette packets tell you all you need to know about the dangers of smoking, so have a read before you light up again.
It's the nicotine in the cigarettes that make them so addictive, so the sooner you withdraw from the substance, the sooner your addiction will cease. It's easier said than done, we know, but this is where your doctor will come in handy, as they can prescribe something to help you stop.
Nicotine is not the only problem. People like to smoke because the feel of the cigarette in their hands helps to steady their nerves. This by itself is an addictive problem. Holding a stress ball or a fidget spinner can help give your hands something to do, but remember that the more you resist something the harder it is to handle it. Learn how to allow urges without reacting, resisting, or avoiding them.
Some people vape instead, but I find it just as repulsive as I find smoking, TBH.
For more advice, check out these tips on giving up smoking, and do what you can now before you fall prey to any health problems.
Addiction #5: Smartphones
This modern problem is fast becoming an epidemic. The next time you're out, count how many people are glued to their phones. Chances are, more people than not will be staring at the smaller screens in front of them.
It's not the phone itself that people are addicted to, although like smoking, some might feel lost if they don't have something in their hands. More commonly, it's social media that is the issue, as people are forever checking their Facebook and Instagram pages. The ego is another issue, as many people are desperate to be liked, so they will constantly check their Facebook pages for likes and will take selfies in an attempt to show people how wonderful they are.
Is smartphone addiction a bad thing? Yes, as it can lead to a number of health-related issues, such as anxiety, eyestrain, and OCD.
If you're relating to this, switch off your phone for a while, and do other things with your time. Talk to your friends in real-time instead of on FaceTime, and remember that your self worth does not depend on how many likes your Facebook page gets.
For more advice, here are some tips on ending your smartphone addiction.
So, where do your addictions lie? Follow our advice if it related to you, and seek further help for these and any other addictions that you might be prone to. Your health and your life will benefit if you do.
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