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Single Dad Delivers Pizza to Make Ends Meet - Then He Pulls Up to a Parking Lot to Find This
Uplifting News

Single Dad Delivers Pizza to Make Ends Meet - Then He Pulls Up to a Parking Lot to Find This

Sometimes in life, we fall into a bad place. Life circumstances add up, things don’t go our way, or we become addicted to things we shouldn’t. It takes a lot of strength and courage to pull yourself up from that kind of situation, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be done.One father in Idaho not only pulled himself out of addiction but went on to help and inspire others. So, one night, someone decided to pay that dedication back in the sweetest way possible.A Hard-Working FatherA man named Nick was going through a hard time, but he was grateful. After struggling with substance abuse, he had gotten clean and was pushing six years of sobriety. He was also super busy. He was raising an almost one-year-old girl by himself, and finances were tight.The man would wake up at 4 a.m. every day to get to his shift at 5 a.m. Then he’d work nights delivering pizzas in order to pay the bills. Meanwhile, he didn’t have a lot of family around to help him with his daughter. But he kept going and even volunteered at a center as a recovery coach.Perhaps that’s why someone nominated him for the East Idaho News Secret Santa program. Regardless of why he was nominated though, he was selected to receive a surprise gift. Only he had no idea.A Shocking SurpriseOne night, as Nick was starting his shift, he was called to a parking lot to deliver some pizzas. There, East Idaho News host Nate Eaton stepped out of the car and told Nick that he had been selected as one of the final Secret Santa recipients of the year.“No way,” Nick said, fighting back tears. “It’s just been a hard year. I mean, my daughter’s a blessing, and I love her. I wish she was here so I could show you.”Eaton then handed Nick a series of three boxes. The first was a $1,000 gift card to buy a laptop so he could pursue his goal of returning to school for social work and get his degree in counseling.The second box contained a $1,000 gift card for Nick to buy diapers and formula. The third box was a note saying that his rent had been covered for the next year, so he could get a jump start on his goals.An Important MessageDespite everything Nick had gone through and how hard he was working, his first reaction was still that he was undeserving. “There’s so many more people that need it more than I do,” he said, choking back more tears.As Eaton reminded him, it was a Secret Santa, and someone definitely thought he was deserving of the help. He then asked whether the man had any words of encouragement for others who may be in a similar situation.“Just keep moving forward,” he said after thinking for a few seconds. “Keep going, pushing forward. It’s hard, but it’s worth it. We’ve lost so many people in the past couple of years, and they’re not here anymore, so the people that are, I’m grateful. I’m grateful.”Don’t Give UpThose are sage words coming from someone who has been at an absolute low in life, yet was still able to pick himself back up and find his purpose. It reminds us all that even on our darkest days, there can be light if we stick with it and continue to try and do our best.This story is also an excellent reminder that sometimes, helping someone else with a kind gesture or a gift can also make a big impact. We never really know what other people are going through, and sometimes your generosity can make all the difference.More from Goalcast:Teen Born With a Drug Addiction Eats Lunch Alone Everyday – His First Day of School Changes EverythingFormer Addict Stands at a Street Corner and Talks to the School Children Passing By – Spreading His New “Addiction”The YMCA in Cleveland Is Helping Recovering Addicts Stay off Drugs —You’ll Be Shocked When You Find Out How

Is Golf Addiction a Risk to Your Health?
Mental Health

Is Golf Addiction a Risk to Your Health?

The sun is shining, birds are chirping, the breeze is just right. The morning has begun and your first thought is: this is a perfect day for golf. Out of all sports, golf is one of the most wholesome. There’s a reason why many top-level executives take to the green during negotiations or networking sessions. It’s gentle, slow, and reflective. It’s the perfect mix of facing your frustrations and successes and socializing with friends.RELATED: Are You at Risk of Exercise Addiction?As a sport played in picturesque scenery, golf seems harmless. However, there is a risk of its allure becoming a hindrance. The need to reduce your handicap, improve the technique of your swing, or find new courses to explore, can become intrusive. If left unchecked, it’s possible to develop a golf addiction, where enjoyment of the sport is replaced by a dependency.The Science of Golf AddictionAddiction is challenging to define scientifically. In the past, it was limited to drugs or alcohol. Now, anything from sex, the internet, gaming, gambling, or social media is recognized for its addictive potential. Psychological research separates addiction into two forms: substance addiction and behavioral addiction. The first is the commonly understood chemical dependency. The latter, however, is complex, and covers “any source which is capable of stimulating an individual.”What’s intriguing about behavioral addiction is that it can form around behaviors that don’t seem unhealthy on the surface, from physical exercise to work. That includes hobbies, and not many hobbies match the level of dedication and enthusiasm many people have for golf. However, it’s important to separate the enjoyment of the game from a genuine addiction. The diagnostic criteria for behavioral addiction are:Salience: the activity dominates thinking, feeling, and behavior.Mood modification: the activity is used to escape difficult feelings, or cause feelings of pleasure.Tolerance: increasing amounts are needed in order to be satisfied.Conflict: the activity leads to falling out with friends and family who are affected by the addictive behavior.Relapse: falling back on old behaviors and returning to the activity, even in spells of deliberate abstinence.Above all else, the sign that golf has become less of a hobby, and more of an addiction, is how much it interferes with your life. If you choose golf instead of seeing friends or family, spend lots of money on new equipment, feel anxious if you can't play, or escape day-to-day activities on the green, the signs suggest golf is starting to have a negative impact.What Makes Golf Addictive?With a market value in America alone at $26 billion, it’s clear that golf has a wide appeal. Unlike other sports, golf is less taxing physically, is an ideal excuse to enjoy the open doors for long periods of time, and the game itself has a delicate balance of challenge and reward. In the words of Arnold Palmer, one of the early pioneers of the sport’s popularity:“Golf is deceptively simple and endlessly complicated; it satisfies the soul and frustrates the intellect. It is at the same time rewarding and maddening – and it is without a doubt the greatest game mankind has ever invented.”Factor in the possibility of constant improvement, and continued opportunities to start afresh with each shot, and the craving for progress or escape can develop. However, underneath all behavioral addictions, there is an emotional component. The primary factor of gold addiction is a dependency on the psychological or emotional rewards from playing the game itself, from experiencing flow state to feelings of peace or achievement.In addition, secondary factors, such as the need for validation or approval, and avoidance of difficult emotions, all contribute to excessive behavior with the game. Less than the direct rewards, golf then compensates for other difficult areas in life. For example, trying to improve your handicap in order to impress friends or business partners, to compensate for low self-esteem.Exploring Your Inner Relationship to GolfThere’s a limited benefit to attempting to categorize whether your relationship to golf is addictive. What matters is your desire to identify whether the game has started to dominate your life in a negative way. Consider how frequently you play golf, how much time you spend each week preparing, how much money you spend, and how much the sport dominates your thinking.RELATED: Caffeine Addiction 101: Everything You Need to KnowConsider journaling all the benefits you get from playing golf, including the emotional reward, and any concerns you have that the game may be taking up too much space in your life. Have you had pushback from friends or family? Have people expressed concern at how much you're playing?Next, explore your motivation. What triggers your desire to play golf? Is it simply due to the enjoyment of the sport? Or is your golf playing a response to certain emotions or life situations, becoming not just a hobby, but a coping mechanism? For example, do you crave playing when anxious, angry, or stressed?Be self-compassionate as you explore, and consider talking to friends or family as you go through the process. With addiction, it’s common for those close to the addict to notice before the addict themselves, so be prepared to have conversations with people who may bring light to your blind spots.The Steps to Overcome Golf AddictionIf you identify addictive qualities in your relationship with golf, the next step is to consider how you can find greater balance. Do you have addictive qualities outside of the sport? If your addiction to the game is in isolation from other areas of life, it could be a case of your love of the game becoming excessive, and some simple readjustments can do the trick.Fortunately, these grey zone addictions are starting to be taken seriously. Psychological research notes that Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), in particular, is effective in working with the underlying beliefs and thinking processes that contribute to addiction. Part of the challenge with behavioral addiction is that, more often than not, you can't fully give up the source of addiction. An alcoholic can cut out drinks. A food addict can’t cut out food.You don’t necessarily have to quit the game completely. With inner work, emotional intelligence, looking into root causes, and support from friends and family, you might be able to find a better balance. For example, spending less on equipment, or playing less frequently in order to prioritize family time or your marriage. Finding the pathway through is much like the game itself. It’ll require patience, skill, and repetition. But when you find the sweet spot, you'll know the work was worth it.KEEP READINGHow To Improve Self-Awareness: A Comprehensive And Practical Guide

Tom Hardy Just Won a Big Award in Secret - And It Might Make You See Him Differently 
Celebrities

Tom Hardy Just Won a Big Award in Secret - And It Might Make You See Him Differently 

Tom Hardy made a special appearance this past Saturday, September 16, 2022, at Oakgrove School in Milton Keynes, England, where he attended the 2022 UMAC Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Open Championship. What was shocking about the surprise visit was that he wasn’t there to watch the tournament, but rather competing in it!RELATED: Fitness Saved Her From Addiction and Homelessness, So She Opened a Gym to Help Others Stay SoberLow and behold, fans would later find out through several photos circulated on social media that Tom Hardy won gold in the tournament within his division. In the photo, Hardy is photographed holding up a certificate with a gold medal around his neck, a proud Edward Hardy- his real name, strikes a smirk for the photo.Many people know Hardy for his roles in Warrior, Batman, Mad Max, and more recently for the HBO series Peaky Blinders. He has often been in headlines for the tough and macho characters he plays on-screen, but what people may not have known is that Hardy’s love for martial arts has become his saving grace.Tom’s Journey With Alcoholism and AddictionGettyTom’s exposure to drugs and alcohol started at a very young age and he is very open about his struggles with this early on in life. He mentioned that he had started experimenting with drugs at 13 years old, which led to him continuing on this path, ultimately leading to an arrest for gun possession and grand theft auto at 17 years old.The need for drugs continued to drive his life, and when he was 19, fate had other plans for the would-be actor. In dire need of his next fix and having not a penny to his name, Tom entered into a modelling contest on the show The Big Breakfast in which he won. The video of his appearance is still accessible today.This led to a contract and the opening of several doors into acting. Despite being expelled and kicked out of several prestigious schools before, Hardy decided to study method acting in London. The success of this landed him his first ever role in the war series Band of Brothers.RELATED: Robert Downey Jr. Bares His Heart in Emotional Speech, Opens Up About Dark Past and Delivers Powerful Message of HopeHis next project was the high profile Oscar winning film Black Hawk Down; Hardy still recalls that as a painful period when he had a near-death experience. While filming for the movie, Hardy woke up after a night of partying, realizing he had overdosed on drugs. The doctor at the time told him that if he didn’t turn his life around, he wouldn’t be around for much longer. This was advice that he would take to heart.Tom’s Journey Into Rehabilitation and LoveGettyAfter the support and push from his family and friends, Tom decided to get the help he needed. He knew he had to do something. His first step was joining Alcoholics Anonymous where he was able to find the assistance needed to become sober and free.RELATED: Tom Hardy and Charlotte Riley Prove The Power Of Timing And An Open MindIn 2009, Hardy met actress Charlotte Riley while filming Wuthering Heights. Although Riley was skeptical about the recovering addict, she gave him a chance. Hardy took this as a true blessing in his life and proposed to the actress as soon as he could. While the two actors were engaged Hardy told Elle, “I can wait for her as long as it takes.”His relationship with Riley was one that would continually keep Hardy in check, motivating him to stay sober. He has two children with his now wife and believes his family is what keeps him grounded and on the right path.Tom’s Second Love and Saving GraceLionsgateAfter years of being sober, Hardy is still outspoken about his struggles with addiction in the sense he fears he could fall back into old habits at any given point. The challenges he continually faces in trying to stay sober and not be tempted, especially being in Hollywood and the spotlight, is an ongoing battle.Tom Hardy has suffered from dysthymia, a disorder in which one is plagued by vicious cycles of depression. He said in a very candid interview with Prince’s Trust (where he serves as an ambassador), a charity that helps people get their life back on track, “Everything scares me. Not being in control, not knowing, anticipation, waiting for something to go wrong.”To help stay focused on the road to recovery, Hardy turned to martial arts to help keep his mental state healthy. In particular, he invested his time studying jiu-jitsu, he is currently a blue belt.While Hardy says being a father is his main focus and priority for staying sober, his love for martial arts has really transformed his thinking. He first began training when he got the role for the 2011 film Warrior and since then Hardy has continued to train.RELATED: Eminem Celebrates 10 Years Sober, Inspires People Struggling with Addiction to Open UpWith his love for jiu-jitsu and his wife and children to keep him grounded, it seems Hardy has found his calling in life. In an interview with Esquire, Hardy says, “Once you’ve established yourself you can stop making that much noise. Because you’re here now, what are you going to do? And what is enough? What do you need? What do my family need? So that is very relevant. I think everybody needs a little bit of their own thing that they do. I like jiu-jitsu and sourdough. That fulfils me.”More recently, Hardy has taken a more active approach in competing in various tournaments. This recent UMAC win is not the only win under his belt, but he also won in the REORG Open Jiu-Jitsu Championship several months ago.Winning Gold and Winning Life@taped_fingersWhen Tom Hardy showed up at Oakgrove School, many onlookers were shocked to see the Oscar nominated actor. Organizers of the event had managed to keep things under wraps after discovering that Hardy would be showing up to the tournament.The humbled passion of Hardy practicing his art is inspiring to see. His level of professionalism and down-to-earth nature is evident in showing up to this event. Although a celebrity, he is truly just a guy who wants to show his love of the sport. People who were at the event were able to take photographs with the actor, only further showing his humanness and humility as a person.READING: How Stranger Things’ Jamie Campbell Bower Overcame AddictionSeveral days after winning the tournament, Hardy took to his @tomhardy Instagram to post a picture of himself at the match, along with a lengthy caption bringing up his past battle with addiction. He says, “Addiction is difficult for me and extremely close to my heart.” He further talks about his love for martial arts, “Simple training, for me (as a hobby and a private love) has been fundamentally key to further develop a deeper sense of inner resilience, calm, and well being.” It has undoubtedly helped him through tough times where he feared he’d fall back into his old habits.Tom Hardy’s story of addiction and rehabilitation is one that many find surprising. But what is more inspiring about his journey is seeing the different aspects of his life that he invests in and runs with. He knows where his heart is and it has become his consistent motivation needed to continue fighting for his life.For anyone who can relate to the experiences of Tom Hardy, his journey is a testament and living proof that there is hope and fulfillment after a life of addiction and alcoholism.KEEP READING: Jamie Lee Curtis Bravely Reveals Decade-Long Struggle with Opioid Addiction, Shows That Even the Mega Successful Have Painful Secrets

Bella Hadid’s Toxic Relationship with Alcohol Is a Lesson for Immediate Change
Pop Culture

Bella Hadid’s Toxic Relationship with Alcohol Is a Lesson for Immediate Change

The last two years have done a toll on people globally. The term "Pandemic Drinking" reared its head, with many turning to alcohol to fill too much time at home, numb the stress, and forget the state of the world. Supermodel Bella Hadid is the latest celebrity to take an introspective look at her own relationship with alcohol and admit there is a better way to live. RELATED: Fitness Saved Her From Addiction and Homelessness, So She Opened a Gym to Help Others Stay SoberHadid isn’t the only celebrity to stumble in their sobriety. Like everyday people, celebrities face stress and situations that challenge their commitment to staying sober. Rather than feeling shame if they relapse, these celebrities picked themselves up and recommitted to their sobriety, remembering relapse is part of recovery.Bella Hadid In an interview with InStyle Magazine, Hadid speaks about her unhealthy relationship with alcohol, how it affected her depression and anxiety, and how she has, "made brain care my ultimate priority.""While I rarely get 'drunk' anymore, I've completely stopped drinking hard alcohol… I have learned what my body can and can't handle."RELATED: Bella Hadid’s Biggest Regret and Rivalry Reveal So Much about Celebrity AnxietyHadid has worked closely with Bloom, a non-alcoholic energy drink, in creating the perfect mix to help others who may not be imbibing but want a healthy rosé alternative. Plus side? No more hangovers. MacklemoreMacklemore revealed that he had been sober since 2008 and, during the summer of 2020 when we were all locked in our houses because of the COVID-19 pandemic, he, like a lot of people, turned to alcohol to deal with the stress, boredom, and anxiety of that period of time. In an interview with People in January 2022, he said, "It was really painful for myself and for the people who loved me. I stopped doing the work," he said at the time. "When I have to be still and exist within my own head, that's where my disease lives… [But] I'm like, 'You know what? I don't need to pretend like I'm some perfect dude in recovery.' I am not at all, and there's no shame."RELATED: This Is What Happens to Your Body and Mind When You Give up AlcoholThe rapper posted a video on his @mackelmore Tik Tok account where he admitted that he’d relapsed. However, as of that video, he had been sober again for 694 days – a whole year and a half. That’s an accomplishment he can be proud of. Addiction recovery is a one-day at a time.. It is a disease and must be treated as such in any approach to sobriety.Robert Downey Jr.Robert Downey Jr. had an infamous struggle with drugs, alcohol, and sobriety. He was arrested several times on drug charges from 1996 to 2001. He was found to be in possession of cocaine, heroin, and marijuana (before it was legal in California) several times. He entered rehab several times and after getting out, relapsed again and again. In April 1996 he was pulled over for speeding in Los Angeles and was in possession of heroin, cocaine, and a loaded handgun at the time. He was arrested. RELATED: Robert Downey Jr. Bares His Heart in Emotional Speech, Opens Up About Dark Past and Delivers Powerful Message of HopeWhen he was released a month later, he was under the influence of drugs and entered his neighbor’s house and went to sleep in their bed. He was given three years of probation and had to take court-ordered drug tests regularly. He missed one of those tests and was sent to jail for six months in 1997. In 1999 that happened again, and he was sentenced to three years in prison. He’s been sober since at least 2003 and credits his wife with helping him get and stay sober. Since Downey Jr. has been sober, he’s resurrected his career, playing Iron Man in the successful franchise, among many other roles. Demi LovatoDemi Lovato struggled with drugs and alcohol since they were a child. Lovato’s first trip to rehab was in 2010. They entered a sober house in 2013 to cope with their drug and alcohol issues as well as their eating disorder and bipolar disorder. In 2018, Lovato announced that they’d been sober for six years via their ballad “Sober.” A month after the song was released, Lovato was rushed to the hospital after an overdose nearly killed them. RELATED: How to Support a Recovering Addict on the Road to SobrietyThey were in the hospital for two weeks and then in rehab for three months. During an episode of the YouTube series Dancing With the Devil, Lovato said, “I had three strokes, I had a heart attack. My doctors said that I had five to 10 more minutes.” Today, Lovato calls themselves “California sober,” in that they drink in moderation and smoke marijuana. Miley CyrusMiley Cyrus struggled with drugs and alcohol, but she was six months sober as of June 2020 and feeling great. And then the pandemic lockdowns started and life for everyone, even a wealthy superstar, ground to a halt. RELATED: Miley Cyrus Celebrates New Sobriety Milestone, Inspires Those Struggling Through Pandemic To PersevereIn an interview with Elle UK, the “Wrecking Ball” singer said, “I like a lot of people, being completely honest, during the pandemic fell off... and I would never sit here and go, "I've been f***ing sober.” She turned to alcohol to take the edge off during lockdowns. Fortunately for Miley, that didn’t last, and she got sober again in early November 2020.Kelly OsbourneKelly Osbourne had a lengthy battle with an addiction to painkillers that sent her to rehab three times by the time she was 24. She first went to Promises in Malibu in 2004. She went back to rehab in 2005. Then, when she moved to L.A. in 2009, she relapsed. She told People at the time, "I couldn't see into tomorrow... It's so embarrassing, the number of times I've thrown myself down the stairs…and hurt myself to get pills." RELATED: How to Support a Recovering Addict on the Road to SobrietyIn April 2021, after almost four years of sobriety, she had a relapse. She revealed this in an Instagram Story, saying "This is a little hard for me to talk about, but …I relapsed…But I am back on track… I am sober today and I'm gonna be sober tomorrow, but it truly is just one day at a time." Ben AffleckNewlywed Ben Affleck has struggled with sobriety over the years and has had several relapses. In 2019, he’d been sober for a year and had a very public relapse after being in and out of rehab for the few years leading up to that. RELATED: Ben Affleck’s Sobriety Journey Proves You’re More Than Your Parents’ MistakesHis relapse happened two months after he’d been sober for a year. He was seen stumbling as he was returning to his ex-wife Jennifer Garner’s house. TMZ was outside the house with a camera and Affleck said, “It happens, it’s a slip, but I’m not going to let it derail me.” His ex-wife helped him get back on track. Dax ShepherdDax Shepherd had been sober for 16 years after struggling with an alcohol and cocaine problem. In August 2020, he was in a motorcycle accident and was prescribed the painkiller Vicodin for the pain from the four broken ribs the accident caused. This caused a relapse. During an episode of his podcast Armchair Expert, he said he was taking eight 30mg Vicodin pills a day and keeping it a secret from everyone. RELATED: Scott Steindorff: Killing Myself with Drugs and Alcohol"I know that's an amount that's going to result in a pretty bad withdrawal. And I start getting really scared, and I'm starting to feel really lonely. And I just have this enormous secret." He admitted he was high on Vicodin at the meeting celebrating his 16 years of sobriety. By the time the podcast aired in September 2020, he had sought help and had been sober again for 11 days.These celebs may make going sober look easy, but each one has struggled, persisted, and thrived. They teach us that change is possible and introspection is necessary at times to ultimately become the best version of ourselves. KEEP READING: Celebrates 10 Years Sober, Inspires People Struggling with Addiction to Open Up

Dopamine Fasting: What Is It & How Does It Work?
Self-Development

Dopamine Fasting: What Is It & How Does It Work?

Dopamine fasting is a trend that originated in Silicon Valley. It describes an attempt to counteract ingrained habits that can become addictive. It's a practice of avoiding stimulation for a certain period of time, to avoid any spikes in dopamine. The question is, is this a trend worth trying? This article will explain the details of dopamine fasting, the science behind it, and a number of steps you can take to try for yourself.What is dopamine?In simple terms, dopamine makes us feel good. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that plays a role in the brain and body, linked with reward, pleasure, learning, and motivation. Dopamine encourages us to seek out pleasurable activities, like a bridge between craving and the fulfillment of craving, boosting energy levels and motivation.Its precise role is still not fully understood, though, and often misinterpreted. Dopamine is active with the body’s fight or flight system and recent studies have found that dopamine is involved in unpleasurable activities, too, such as touching something hot. This is likely because it teaches us not only what to seek to find pleasure, but what not to seek to avoid pain.Humans are hardwired to seek reward. If you take a cynical view of human nature, you could argue that we are driven by chemical highs and hormonal responses to our environment — in particular the dopamine hit of falling in love, receiving likes and shares on social media, emotional eating, drinking a strong cup of coffee.Fortunately, humans are more than biology. We have the ability to self-regulate and make decisions based on rationality. We learn delayed gratification. We can choose not to ignore impulses in favor of future fulfillment. But this isn’t easy when living in a world full of triggers; from social media, mobile technology, binge consumption, and the normalization of numbing emotions with the temporary relief of addictive behaviors.Why dopamine is important to understandBecause dopamine is released when eating food, during sex, and when taking recreational drugs such as cocaine, it's earned the label of a feel-good chemical. (wundervisuals / Getty)In recent times there’s growing evidence for its role in mobile phone use and social media. Pioneers of this technology have spoken out about the “feedback loops” that keep us hooked to our screens. Chamath Palihapitiya, the former Vice President of Facebook’ User Growth, went as far to say these technologies were “destroying society.” He believes that reducing impulsive behavior caused by these feedback loops is essential.The words “destroying society” are strong words, but not entirely misguided. “The brain responds to this increase by decreasing dopamine transmission — not just back down to its natural baseline rate, but below that baseline,” Anne Lembke, author of Dopamine Nation: Finding Balance in the Age of Indulgence, told Stanford. “Repeated exposure to the same or similar stimuli ultimately creates a chronic dopamine-deficit state, wherein we're less able to experience pleasure.”This need for more stimulation, to become sensitive to the reward circuit, leads to addictive behavior. Our brain’s reward system is sensitive, and must be treated with care. An imbalance of dopamine is linked to various mental illnesses, from schizophrenia to Parkinson's. Because dopamine is involved in motivation, a lack of the chemical is linked to anhedonia, a symptom of depression where people lose interest in enjoyable activities. With this chemical, balance is everything, and promoting values-aligned health behaviors is key. What is a dopamine detox?Because dopamine acts as a reward center, a dopamine detox is just a mechanism that encourages a deliberate practice of avoiding activities that stimulate the release of the chemical. The Silicon Valley trend of dopamine fasting takes this to the extreme — participants are encouraged to avoid food and drink in a form of intermittent fasting, (apart from water), excessive internet usage, TV or mobile phone use, reading, and sex or masturbation. Some people avoid all human interaction and family demands, even eye contact. It’s essentially Digital Detox Plus for our dopamine receptors.When reducing dopamine during your day, you’re still allowed to meditate, think, walk in nature, or write a diary entry. It's a way of returning to baseline, or removing external “stimulants,” and allowing the brain’s sensitivity to dopamine return. In theory, this leads to more sensitivity and less addictive behavior.(Getty)Proponents of the wellness trend claim it can “reset the brain,” by returning to the baseline level Anne Lembke refers to. However, some experts have called the term itself misleading and prefer “stimulation fast” instead. We can’t forget that dopamine is essential for healthy brain functioning, and it's almost impossible to consciously regulate the release of the chemical itself. For example, studies have found that meditation can boost dopamine by up to 64 percent after one hour.Is there science behind dopamine detoxing?Feeling good is a complex process, especially when it comes to the biochemical components, and how they contribute. Practices that look to take time away from bad habits, turn off social media, take time to slow down and reflect, all have a positive impact on mood. Although a dopamine fast might not reduce dopamine levels or offer a genuine “fast” from their presence in the brain and body, the practice does remove triggers that stimulate the dopamine response. Experts agree that alone is healthy.Taking time away from impulsive behavior is beneficial, too. Brain scans have found links between impulsive behaviors and dopamine; when the craving for a reward is strong, people tend to engage in risky behaviors in order to fulfill the craving. Learning to manage behaviors that can be overly addictivehelps weaken this process. The unhealthy ways the world has changed, in contrast to the slow evolution of the human brain and body, is highlighted by dopamine. Gone are the days of foraging for food, only socializing IRL (away from Instagram, Facebook, or WhatsApp), and enjoying “natural” hits of the chemical. Lembke expands on this problem by offering a sobering view:“Because we’ve transformed the world from a place of scarcity to a place of overwhelming abundance: Drugs, food, news, gambling, shopping, gaming, texting, sexting, Facebooking, Instagramming, YouTubing, tweeting… the increased numbers, variety, and potency of highly rewarding stimuli today is staggering. The smartphone is the modern-day hypodermic needle, delivering digital dopamine 24/7 for a wired generation.”When an expert refers to the smartphone as a “modern-day hypodermic needle,” it’s worth paying attention.4 ways to lower dopamine levelsSetting the intention to be aware of addictive sorts of behaviors, to break the loop of seeking constant stimulation, to take breaks to allow the brain’s pathways to recover, will all contribute to improved balance and regulation. The below steps provide a solid foundation to behaviors that, ultimately, help regular dopamine levels:1. Understand addictive qualities apply to us allImpulsive or addictive types of behaviors can be hard to detect, precisely because of the belief that addictions only operate in extremes, related to a select few substances. Instead, addiction is on a spectrum. In Eight Step Recovery, Valeria Mason-John uses the teachings of Buddhism to recover from addictive qualities. “Human nature has an inbuilt tendency toward addiction… Thinking itself can have an addictive quality to it… We live in a world where many of us self-medicate in response to hardship.”Explore with honesty and compassion the areas of life where you have addictive tendencies. Start with awareness.2. Get comfortable with uncomfortable feelingsWe’ve all been there. You arrive somewhere, start to feel a little self-conscious, bored, or anxious, and before you know it, your phone’s in your hand, you’re scrolling on Instagram, or watching YouTube, and avoiding the uncomfortable feeling. (David Espejo / Getty)These behaviors are often ways of avoiding pain or suffering. If you can withstand difficulty, you can break the cycle of distraction and better manage addictive behaviors.The most effective way of doing this is practicing mindfulness. Learn to sit with thoughts, feelings, sensations and emotions without judgment or resistance. Become curious.3. Try to follow experience impulses, without acting upon themImpulsivity and addiction go hand-in-hand. A craving arises, the desire to fulfil that craving follows, and without a second’s break, the movement to act out follows. It might seem that this is all one instinctive movement, but in truth, there’s always a possibility to slow down, to witness the impulse, feel the craving, and avoid behaving in a way that perpetuates the behavior.It takes time and self-awareness, but with effort, your ability to control impulses will improve. In my experience, this operates across the board. It doesn’t discriminate. So if you’re looking to improve impulsivity with social media use, you’ll have to practice the same with food, sex, and other cravings. 4. Take time outAnd, last but not least, something the trend of dopamine fasting gets right is the value of time taken away from the addictive technologies and apps we find ourselves surrounded in. Make detoxing part of your wellness plan, in whatever way that looks for you — perhaps one day per week in nature without your phone or laptop, or the occasional retreat.(Getty)In conclusionFads are fads, trends are trends. Although it's tempting to prove or disprove their effectiveness, why not try to distill what works, let go of what doesn’t, and optimize its application in your own life? The science of dopamine fasting might be questionable, but the benefits of its application aren’t.Unfortunately, we live in a world of over-stimulation and environments full of triggers for impulsive or addictive behavior. Working against this takes effort and patience. But the reward is a form of freedom away from the temporary relief of the occasional dopamine hit. And that’s a pleasure that doesn’t depend on anything outside of you.

Binge Drinking: What It Is & How Does It Affect Your Life?
Mental Health

Binge Drinking: What It Is & How Does It Affect Your Life?

If you drink alcohol, you've likely woken up with a hangover at some point in your life. Excessive drinking in a short period of time can lead to a host of adverse health effects the morning after. This can include headaches, fatigue, nausea and vomiting, just to name a few. You may even have trouble remembering how you made it home, or found that you've left your credit card at the bar again. But when does the occasional hangover start to tread into more dangerous territory that results in liver disease or worse? Binge drinking, or consuming too much alcohol, is a common problem in the U.S. If you're concerned that you or a loved one may be having one too many one too many times recently, learning more about alcohol misuse can help inform your next step.In this article, we'll define how many alcoholic drinks is too much, explore the signs of alcohol abuse to look out for, and discuss addiction treatment and options for those who may need them.What is binge drinking?The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism defines binge drinking as a pattern of drinking alcohol that brings the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to 0.08 percent or higher. An individual's BAC refers to the percentage of alcohol in their blood at a given time. In the U.S., 0.08 is considered legally intoxicated. But what is a “pattern,” and at what point does a preponderance for binge drinks turn into something dangerous?The definition is different for men and womenIt's important to understand that drinking alcohol impacts everyone differently. Body weight, metabolism and other factors depend on how efficiently we process alcohol. For women, binge drinking is defined as consuming four or more drinks in the span of two hours – which is the typical amount of time and alcohol it takes to reach the 0.08 metric. For men, drinking five or more drinks in the same time frame is considered binge drinking. It's essential to understand binge drinkers in the context of drink strength as well. Different alcoholic beverages contain varying amounts of alcohol. In the United States, one drink equates to any beverage that contains 0.6 ounces of alcohol. Typical examples can include:5 oz of wine (12% alcohol content)8 oz of malt liquor (7% alcohol content)12 oz of beer (5% alcohol content)1.5 oz of 80-proof liquor (40% alcohol content)Binge drinking and alcohol use disorder When defining binge drinking, it's also essential to keep in mind what binge drinking does not mean. Alcoholism, known today as Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD), is defined as a condition in which a person has a physical need or compulsion to drink alcohol despite the negative impact it has on the person's life. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism defines AUD as a "problem drinking that becomes severe." Binge drinking can eventually lead to Alcohol Use Disorder, but this is not always the case. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 90% of people who drink in excess do not fall under the criteria for Alcohol Use Disorders. Still, regular binge drinking leads to consequences and should be taken seriously. How common is binge drinking and alcohol abuse?Binge drinking is a prevalent problem across the U.S. – but research shows it significantly impacts young adults (more specifically, college students). One national survey on drug use and health found that 33% of full-time college students reported behavior consistent with binge drinking. The same survey found that 4% of preteens and teens ages 12-17 reported having engaged in binge drinking behavior as well. Though not as widespread, binge drinking has also seen an increase in adults over 65 – 10% of them reported binge drinking within the month before the survey. One in four women who took part in the recent survey reported binge drinking, with an average of around three to five binge drinking incidences per month. Binge drinking effectsThere are both short- and long-term effects associated with binge drinking. Consuming an excessive amount of alcohol can lead to symptoms like headaches, vomiting, diarrhea, and others. More seriously, it can result in alcohol poisoning. This occurs when a person consumes a severely high amount of alcohol in a short period of time, to the point that the person's blood-alcohol level is so high it becomes poisonous. A person experiencing alcohol poisoning needs to seek medical care immediately, as this can be a life-threatening condition. The symptoms of alcohol poisoning can include vomiting, irregular breathing and/or confusion. The person experiencing alcohol poisoning may become unresponsive, pass out or go into a coma. BlackoutsBinge drinking can also result in blackouts. While many popular movies like "The Hangover" make light of alcohol-related blackouts, in reality this can lead to a host of injuries and unsafe behaviors. Alcohol-related blackouts occur after excessive alcohol consumption that impairs the part of the brain responsible for making memories. Depending on how much alcohol they consumed, a person may experience a fragmentary blackout – where bits and pieces of the night are missing from their memory, or an "en bloc" blackout – where memories of a span of hours or the entire night are not made and cannot be remembered. Even if you haven't consumed enough alcoholic beverages to blackout, binge drinking impairs your motor and decision-making skills. This means that binge drinking comes with a higher risk of bodily injury and heightens the risk of poor decision-making that can lead to unsafe situations. Alcohol consumption impacts almost all tissue in the body. Because of this, repeatedly drinking to excess can cause damage to the liver and pancreas and increases your risk of liver, breast, colorectal and other types of cancers. Binge drinking can even lead to death in some cases. Signs you're binge drinkingDetermining whether or not you are a binge drinker may not be as easy as counting up the number of alcoholic beverages you've consumed. Here are a few signs you may be a binge drinker.You don't drink in moderationYou don't drink alcohol frequently, but it's in excess when you do. If you find yourself justifying the amount of alcohol you consume with the point that you don't often go out, this could be a sign that binge drinking is an issue for you.You consistently wake up feeling hungover or ill after a night of drinking(Tim Kitchen / Getty)If every time you drink alcohol, you feel hungover the next day, this could be due to the amount of alcohol you're consuming. Having a drink or two over the span of a night shouldn't lead to you feeling ill, vomiting or irritable the next day. If you constantly find yourself hungover after a night of drinking, it could be a sign of binge drinking – and time to pay more attention to the amount of alcohol you're drinking.You drink all weekendWeekends can be a time to let loose and have some fun. But if keeping your alcohol consumption to the weekends means you constantly overdo it, it likely means you're binge drinking. You have trouble remembering the nightYou wake up the following day after a night of drinking and can't remember where you put your keys – only to find them still in your front door. This might seem like a slight misstep or even make for a funny story. But if not remembering details from a night out becomes a pattern, you may be binge drinking. You have trouble setting limitsIf you constantly find yourself going out for "just one drink" after work or with friends – and it always ends up being far more than just one – this could be a sign of a bad habit. Trying and failing to set limits to how much you're drinking may mean that the habit has gotten out of hand, and you may want to consider seeking help. How to stop binge drinkingNot sure where to start? Here are a few steps to take to help get your binging under control. Identify your binge drinking triggersThe first step to stop binge drinking is identifying the motivators behind this behavior. Take stock of who you binge drink with, where you binge drink and when you binge drink. If there's a particular group of friends or atmosphere where you find yourself most tempted to binge drink, it may be necessary to take some space in order to get your habit under control.Find healthy coping mechanismsIf you notice a pattern in your binge drinking, explore what feelings are triggering this behavior. If you're binge drinking in response to a stressful workday, consider methods that may help you unwind. Consider incorporating a run into your post-workday routine. If you find yourself missing the social interaction of being out at a bar, joining a sports league or gym with a friend can be a fun way to connect over a healthier activity. Get support from family and friendsMake it known to others in your life that binge drinking is a behavior you're struggling with and ask for their support to help you change. Having a support system in place is key to shifting a bad habit like this one.Celebrate small winsStopping yourself from binge drinking can be incredibly difficult – especially if it's a habit you've done for a while. It's easy to focus on failures rather than successes. Don't forget to celebrate the small wins in your journey to stop binge drinking. Setting smaller goals to work toward – like two whole weeks or a month of not binge drinking – can make the overall goal feel less stressful to accomplish. Treat yourself to something fun and rewarding when you reach small milestones. Stop drinking alcohol completelyIf being around alcohol or setting limits on how many drinks you consume isn't working for you, cutting alcohol out altogether may actually be a more manageable approach. Programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous can help you along in your journey and allow you to hear from others who have managed to quit drinking as well. SummaryBinge drinking is a widespread issue that impacts many people in the United States. Regular binge drinking can lead to dangerous and potentially life-threatening issues like alcohol poisoning and can develop into an addiction like Alcohol Use Disorder. If binge drinking is an issue for you, there are resources that can help you stop drinking. Sites like Rethinking Drinking or the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism are great places to start learning more about binge drinking and to find the help you need. And if you’re not quite ready to take that step but value your mental health, perhaps take a gander at some of these mental health quotes to inspire you to prioritize the health of both your body and your mind.

Jessica Simpson's Rock Bottom Picture Reveals the Power of Vulnerability
Celebrities

Jessica Simpson's Rock Bottom Picture Reveals the Power of Vulnerability

Being in the public eye is not an easy job and former pop star Jessica Simpson is living proof that such a career can really take a toll on you.Born to a Baptist minister, Jessica started her career using an “anti sex-appeal” image and wearing a purity ring, which put her in contrast to contemporary singers like Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera.Since her debut album wasn’t as successful as expected, Columbia Records decided to drastically change her image. For her new album, Jessica left her innocent songs and looks behind and adopted a more provocative image. However, none of the changes brought her the success she was after, but the singer was ready to try a different path – this time as a TV personality. It's okay to stick your foot in your mouth. Just laugh at yourself with everybody else.Jessica Simpson for Entertainment WeeklySuccess was eventually achieved, but at what cost? Below, we’ll cover the major life events and struggles that Jessica faced while reaching stardom and falling into the hands of addiction.Childhood abuseThe singer buried the trauma and anxiety she experienced in her early years. Only her family and friends knew exactly what she went through. However, in her memoir Open Book (released in February 2020), she opened up about her childhood sexual abuse.Jessica wrote that she was only six years old and the abuse began at a family friend’s house. She was sharing a bed with the family’s daughter who (apparently) was also abused by an “older guy”. The girl would do to Jessica the things her abuser did to her.She told her parents everything when she was 12, they never went back to that home and chose to never talk about it again. But not talking about it didn’t miraculously erase the trauma. Jessica admitted that, coupled with stress over her career, this too contributed to her alcohol abuse.Her struggle with body image Jessica Simpson became a sex symbol at a very young age, but in order to cultivate that image she had to make a lot of compromises.For many years she was the hot topic of tabloids who were fat-shaming her. As her weight fluctuated over the years, she was constantly criticized and told that she is not skinny enough.The criticism eventually got to her and made her feel insecure about everything. For nearly 20 years Jessica took diet pills that she later combined with alcohol.Jessica’s failed relationships did not helpJessica didn’t really make it as a professional singer, but achieved stardom as a television personality. Long before the Real Housewives and the Kardashians took over, Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey have dominated the nation’s airwaves with the reality TV show called Newlyweds. The show chronicled the young couple’s everyday adventures, but while everything looked glamorous on the small screen, things weren’t that peachy in real life.In her memoir, Jessica talks about how her husband used to spend nights on end with his friends while she remained home alone. The former pop star says that they were both too young and immature and doesn’t blame it all on Nick. On the other hand, she also admits that the failed marriage has seriously affected her at the time and contributed to her drinking problem.Yet, the end of her marriage did not mean that she was out of the woods. Her relationship with John Mayer would turn out to be another overbearing challenge that would push her to another edge. Mayer has had a tumultuous history with his romantic love interests, and Jessica was no exception. The on-off relationship escalated her alcohol abuse.She never felt good enough for him and she would agonize over the most insignificant stuff just to make sure she wouldn’t upset him again. Jessica said that she felt somehow terrorized by Mayer and drank to fight the anxiety.It was the start of me relying on alcohol to mask my nerves.Jessica SimpsonHitting rock bottom and battling addictionIn her 2020 memoir, Jessica reveals that she got to a point where she needed a drink every morning to combat shaking and anxiety. The former TV personality believes her addiction stems in part from trying to numb the pain caused by her childhood sexual abuse. But the pills and alcohol were masking her issues only temporarily. That’s when she decided that in order to really heal, she needed to quit drinking.Personally, to do this I needed to stop drinking alcohol because it kept my mind and heart circling in the same direction and quite honestly I was exhausted. I wanted to feel the pain so I could carry it like a badge of honor. I wanted to live as a leader does and break cycles to advance forward- never looking back with regret and remorse over any choice I have made and would make for the rest of my time here within this beautiful world.Jessica SimpsonIn 2017, after hosting a Halloween party at her house, Jessica realized she has hit rock bottom. She’s spent the whole night drinking and listening to her children’s trick-or-treat until she nearly passed out. The next day, she was so mad at herself that she hasn’t had a drink since.Giving up the alcohol was easy. I was mad at that bottle. At how it allowed me to stay complacent and numb.Jessica SimpsonWorking with her feelings however, was the hardest part. She had to feel the trauma that was anesthetized with vodka for so many years. It was painful, but she made it through.The vulnerable photo that marks 4 years of sobriety View this post on InstagramA post shared by Jessica Simpson (@jessicasimpson)To celebrate her victory, on November 1st, 2021. Jessica posted a photo on social media taken four years prior – on the day she decided to get sober. She looks nothing like the star we got used seeing on TV or in glamorous magazines, but that was the whole point. She wanted everyone to see what mixing pills with alcohol can do to a person. A single photo was enough to capture the damage. Alongside the image of herself in a pink tracksuit, Jessica wrote:This person in the early morning of Nov 1, 2017 is an unrecognizable version of myself. I had so much self-discovery to unlock and explore. I knew in this very moment I would allow myself to take back my light, show victory over my internal battle of self-respect, and brave this world with piercing clarity.Jessica SimpsonAfter four years that have quickly flown by, Jessica had the courage to expose herself exactly as she was at that point in her life. No glam, no fancy clothes and no makeup to hide her struggle – just a “before moment” that marks the beginning of an amazing transformation.There is so much stigma around the word alcoholism or the label of an alcoholic. The real work that needed to be done in my life was to actually accept failure, pain, brokenness, and self-sabotage. The drinking wasn’t the issue. I was. I didn’t love myself. I didn’t respect my own power. Today I do. I have made nice with the fears and I have accepted the parts of my life that are just sad. I own my personal power with soulful courage. I am wildly honest and comfortably open. I am free.Jessica SimpsonShowing vulnerability is a sign of strength and courage View this post on Instagram A post shared by Jessica Simpson (@jessicasimpson)Although many celebrities have fought addiction (or still do), not many had the courage to be so open about it. Jessica posted a vulnerable picture of what she used to be, but is not anymore. She has come a long way, she is happier, healthier and definitely an inspiration for anyone struggling with any type of addiction.Admitting your truth, no matter how ugly it is, is not a sign of weakness, but the only way to understand what pain you are running away from.Speak Your truthDaring to be vulnerable is tough, but it's always worth it.

How to Quit Smoking for Good: A Comprehensive Guide
Physical Health

How to Quit Smoking for Good: A Comprehensive Guide

It’s safe to say that all smokers know that they should stop smoking, and the sooner the better. Tobacco is a major risk to your health, and to the health of your loved ones who are exposed to your secondhand smoke. But even if you know all of this logically, stopping smoking is still extremely difficult due to the additive nature of nicotine, which is the chemical in tobacco that keeps people hooked on cigarettes. This is true for more than just cigarettes, and includes smokeless tobacco, chewing tobacco, and others. Without this powerful drug, even the most enthusiastic smoker wouldn’t go near the stuff, since tobacco itself isn’t exactly appealing. When you’re looking to kick cigarettes for good, you’ll need to be really ready for a tough road ahead. Getting away from cigarettes is a challenge but it’s possible to break free. Here are some tips for quitting smoking and sticking to your new, smoke-free lifestyle. Smoking cessation: Why is quitting so hard?Smoking cigarettes is not only addictive, it’s also usually an ingrained habit. Both of these factors combined makes quitting smoking extra difficult psychologically and physically. Cigarettes contain tobacco, which contains nicotine, an addictive substance that provides an intoxicating, albeit temporary, high. This high feels good so, naturally, your brain starts to crave it and you’ll look forward to smoking as a way to unwind, feel more positive and destress. Unfortunately, when you take away the nicotine, you start to experience physical withdrawal symptoms and cravings, which can only be relieved by lighting up another cigarette. And so the cycle of addiction goes.On the psychological level, smoking gets built into your daily routine, making it even harder to quit. You might smoke on your work breaks as a way to relax and shoot the breeze with your coworkers. You may smoke with friends after grabbing drinks. The more a habit becomes ingrained into your social life, or your self-care routine, the harder it is to break. This is why tobacco use is such a pervasive issue even when most people are well aware of the many dangers of smoking. Quit smoking to live longerHowever appealing smoking might seem in the moment, this habit doesn’t do anything but destroy your body and your overall health. Smoking leads to a greater risk of lung cancer, asthma, birth defects, heart disease, gum disease, emphysema and diabetes, just to name a few. Smokers die an average of 10 years earlier than non-smokers and cigarettes are responsible for more than 480,000 deaths per year in the United States—which means roughly 1,300 deaths every day. And it’s not just smokers’ health that is affected by smoking: Each year, 41,000 of those nearly 500,000 deaths are actually a result of secondhand smoke exposure. Tobacco use doesn’t just affect people who smoke, it affects people who don’t, which is another reason to push yourself to quit for good. (ClarkandCompany / Getty)Any reward you get from smoking just isn’t worth the risk to your health and to the health of others. Consider nicotine replacement therapyQuitting tobacco use cold turkey is not recommended because there is a very high relapse rate due to nicotine withdrawal. Nicotine withdrawal happens because tobacco is addictive. So not having your habitual cigarette all of a sudden creates a void within your body. You’ll feel tired and irritable and get headaches, among other physical and emotional symptoms, as your body reacts to the shock of no more nicotine. For help with smoking cessation, it’s recommended to use nicotine replacement therapy and wear yourself off slowly. Nicotine replacement therapy can come in the form of nicotine patches, nicotine gum or lozenges that can curb the cravings slowly, and ease withdrawal symptoms without forcing you to go through an intense withdrawal period. Typically, people do nicotine replacement therapy for anywhere from six to twelve weeks (or longer, if needed) and it’s important to use enough to relieve your cravings so you can stick with quitting smoking and experience the health benefits. In addition to nicotine replacement therapy, there are a number of prescription medicines that your doctor can recommend for easing withdrawal symptoms or curbing depression related to quitting smoking. While stopping smoking isn’t easy, there are a number of resources you can use to make the process less difficult. Tips for avoiding common smoking triggersAs you work to quit smoking, you want to set yourself up for success by making the process as easy as you can. By eliminating common smoking triggers, you can focus on building this smoking-free chapter of your life as a positive change. Here are some helpful tips for avoiding these triggers so you can stay on course and quit smoking for good:Toss your cigarettes and related paraphernalia Keep your environment free of physical reminders of smoking. This includes your cigarettes themselves, but also any ashtrays, pipes or smoking accessories. Toss the cigarettes and try to recycle the rest if these items are glass or plastic. If you’re feeling creative, you can repurpose or upcycle your ashtrays into windchimes, soap dishes or candle holders, especially if you have vintage or pricier pieces you can’t imagine fully parting with. Take a break from alcoholNicotine is a drug and drug and alcohol dependence are often linked. Quitting alcohol while you give up tobacco can be a good idea if drinking triggers your desire to have a cigarette. However, for some people, too much deprivation all at once can make quitting smoking more difficult—hence why you shouldn’t try to go on a diet when you quit smoking. So if you’re feeling a great deal of distress over not smoking then having a drink every now and then could be helpful. Only you know which way you need to go on this. Address your stressWhen you stop smoking, you may feel more anxious or overwhelmed. This is normal, especially if you used smoking as a way to relieve stress. Now is a great time to address the stressors in your life: your work, relationships that are weighing you down, family issues that could benefit from boundary setting—whatever that’s draining you. When you get to the root of the issue (the trigger), you can take away the need for a smoke for that feeling of relief. Avoid other smokersWhile this doesn’t mean that you need to avoid all of your friends, family members or your partner, it is important to keep your distance, at least temporarily, from people in your life who smoke. You should definitely stay away from toxic friends though.Smokers can encourage each other to keep smoking - even subconsciously - so if these people are unsupportive of your desire to quit, it’s going to be much harder to do so if you’re having regular, close contact with them. Replace the habitWhenever you’d normally reach for a cigarette, make the commitment to call a friend, go for a walk or even play a game on your phone. (FotoDuets / Getty)If you typically use cigarettes as a way to relieve feelings of depression, anxiety or sadness, you might consider starting therapy so you can talk through your feelings instead of avoiding them. At the very least, it’s important to choose another form of self-care to help you when you’re feeling down, like meditation, yoga, journaling deep breathing exercises - whatever works for you. Keep healthy swaps handyWhen you feel like reaching for a cigarette, you’ll want to have something you can put in your mouth to replace it. Chewing gum or eating candy are common swaps for cigarettes because they keep your mouth occupied and their sweet taste can give you a dopamine boost. You can also have fresh fruit and vegetables cut up so that you can reach for something nourishing when you feel like smoking.What should I do if I slip or relapse?Relapsing when you’re trying to quit smoking is very common. Instead of beating yourself up about reaching for a smoke, have a plan for when you slip up so you can get back on track. You’re not alone. You have a number of internal and external resources to help you get through this. Use the tips below to guide you when you fall off the no-smoking wagon: Stop smoking immediatelyWhen you realize you’ve relapsed, even if it’s mid-drag, compel yourself to snuff out the cigarette and toss it ASAP. Once you get in the habit of doing this, you’ll get closer and closer to never picking up a tobacco product again. (And if you haven’t thrown out your cigarettes yet, do it now.)Identify the triggerThink about what made you relapse. Was it someone’s negative comment when you told them you were quitting smoking? Did you have a moment of saying screw it to your health because you were feeling anxious? Were the cravings just too overwhelming? Everyone has different triggers and these triggers can change over the course of your journey. Some people keep a journal while they’re quitting so they can track their specific triggers and work to overcome them. Remember your reasonWhen you’re feeling like you’ve run out of willpower or resources, think about why you’re doing it. Why do you need to quit smoking in the first place? Is it for your health? For your kids’ health? (g-stockstudio / Getty)Whatever your reason, sit down quietly and picture it in your mind. You might even make a small vision board or stick a note to yourself in a specific place in your home to help you remember why you’re doing this super hard thing. Join a quit smoking support groupSmoking cessation groups can be great resources when you’re trying to quit smoking. Being with other people in the same boat as you can be affirming and provide you with a safe place to commiserate without judgement. Join a group and go to a meeting when you’re feeling a trigger coming or whenever you have a relapse. Give it time — and give yourself a breakWhen you’re ready to stop smoking for good, be sure to give yourself time and patience. You’re in for a challenging road but it is possible to get there. Enlist family and friends for support and let them know when you’re going to quit smoking. A quit date can be very helpful. Choose a start date and share it with them so they can help cheer you on and be there for you if you falter. Set a reward for yourself when you’ve quit for good so you have something to look forward to. This celebration will be well deserved. Stopping smoking is hard work and your body is going to fight you psychologically and physically every step of the way until you’re out of the withdrawal period. Give yourself grace by remembering that what you’re doing takes a lot of willpower. And remember: You can do this. When you quit smoking you’re giving the gift of health, not just to yourself but to all of those around you.

How to Stop Drinking Alcohol: Curb Your Drinking With These 6 Tips
Physical Health

How to Stop Drinking Alcohol: Curb Your Drinking With These 6 Tips

Alcohol saturates the fabric of Western culture. Drinking is heavily linked to big life events, both celebratory, such as weddings and birthdays, or times of sadness, such as funerals or breakups. Alcohol is called a social lubricant for a reason. Over 85 percent of Americans over the age of 18 have tried alcohol, with close to 70 percent having indulged in the past year. However, because alcohol is widespread and socially accepted, it doesn’t mean it’s healthy. There are a number of reasons why you might stop drinking, from concerns about alcohol abuse and addiction to wanting to improve health or simply avoid a dreaded alcohol withdrawal, also known as the Sunday morning hangover.Anyone who has tried to quit drinking will know it goes against tides of peer pressure. It’s no small task to say no, especially when so many everyday experiences seem to involve alcohol. But with some useful tips, determination, and willpower, it’s possible to enjoy the benefits of sobriety. Read on below to learn more about how you can stop drinking altogether, and get rid of alcohol completely from your life. Quitting drinking may not be as hard as you think!Disclaimer: this article is intended to support and offer guidance to those who are looking to reevaluate their relationship with alcohol. If drinking is having a significant impact on your life, please seek the support of professional support groups or others that can provide medical advice or even prescribe medication in your quest.My reason to quit drinkingI quit alcohol over three years ago. It’s one of the best decisions I’ve made, while simultaneously being one of the toughest to stick to. Growing up, I was very much your typical social drinker. I’d go out most weekends, and binge drink on Friday or Saturday evenings. At one point in my life I’d have the occasional lunchtime pint. When I first moved to Berlin, I worked in an office where they were stocked up on expensive coffee and beer, with cocktails part of the Friday evening routine.It was everywhereI consumed a lot of alcohol. And while I never consciously acknowledged any addiction, I was aware it was causing me lots of problems. I’d experienced depression and anxiety for most of my adult life, and when I was in a cycle of heavy weekend drinking, I became increasingly aware of the impact alcohol was having on my mood. A low point came when, one Saturday afternoon, I was so hungover I had to ask my housemates to visit the supermarket for me and buy me food. Ouch. Those are the types of alcohol withdrawal symptoms you don’t want to have. Awful hangovers, combined with worsening the symptoms of anxiety and depression, mixed in with my growing meditation practice and a nagging feeling that what I was doing wasn’t good for me, led to a difficult choice. That’s when the hard work began, but we’ll come back to that (and the related health benefits of leaving alcohol dependence behind) later. The reason I share this is to give context: you don’t have to be addicted to alcohol, or drinking every day, to consider quitting.How do you know if you have a drinking problem?Because alcohol consumption is largely unquestioned, it can be difficult to see the line between normal drinking habits, or a more severe alcohol use disorder. I wished to share my story above because it shows that you don’t always have to have a severe addiction in order to take action to reduce or quit altogether.You might have the cliched image that a “drinking problem” involves whiskey for breakfast or a lack of ability to function with day-to-day tasks. Factored with other stereotypes making alcohol the norm or cool (going out partying on weekends, for example), and it can be tough to draw the line in the sand.Start with honesty about alcohol abuseKnowing if you have a drinking problem is a matter of self-honesty. It requires getting real with yourself in terms of the impact alcohol is having on your life. You’ll be familiar with the term alcoholism to describe an addiction to alcohol. Another term is alcohol dependency, and this is where it becomes apparent your relationship to alcohol is on a spectrum.For example, if you feel anxious in social situations, and find it difficult to socialize without a drink in hand, there’s some form of dependency, no matter how discreet. Other more subtle indicators might be feeling lost without going out for a drink or two on the weekend, or finding yourself instinctively reaching for a drink when feeling difficult feelings or celebrating life’s finer moments.Again, these behaviors are all so ingrained in our culture that it’s difficult to see them as troublesome. But the intention of this article is to confront uncomfortable truth ahead of finding solace in comfortable lies, so I won’t avoid the difficult reality that alcohol is unhealthy. In fact, a recent study by Oxford University discovered no amount of alcohol consumption is safe for the brain.Questions to ask yourself about your drinking habitsThe CAGE screening questions help to discern if you have a drinking problem and are used by therapists and alcohol addiction professionals. I’m fairly sure the majority of people I know who drink regularly (my past self included) will find some uncomfortable truths surface in answering them. The questions are:Have you ever felt you should cut down on your drinking?Have people (family members or others) annoyed you by criticizing your drinking?Have you ever felt bad or guilty about your drinking?Have you ever had a drink first thing in the morning to steady your nerves or get over a hangover (eye-opener)?The acronym, CAGE, comes from the words highlighted in bold. If you answer yes to two or more of these questions, then you could have a serious drinking problem. The fourth question is seen as the most “serious,” as it implies a level of withdrawal that is experienced when giving up alcoholic drinks.What about binge drinking?The CDC notes binge drinking as a serious but preventable public health problem. Most people who binge drink don’t have a recognized alcohol disorder (in the medical sense). Binge drinking occurs when large amounts of alcohol are consumed in a short space of time, typically four or five drinks in two hours. One in six adults in the US binge four times per month, and 40 percent of students report binge drinking at college.(LordHenriVoton / Getty)There’s no clear line or consensus on when binge drinking becomes a recognized problem. When seen as “partying” or “having fun,” any potential problems can be easily masqueraded as doing what everyone else is doing. Unsurprisingly, binge drinking patterns make people more likely to develop a dependency.Key factors in binge drinkingAmerican Addiction Centres explain the key factors that make people more likely to binge drink, including:Having poor coping skillsDepression and anxietySocial pressureTraumaBoredomCheap and easy to access to alcoholThey also note that no amount of binge drinking is healthy, but there are steps to take that can help lessen the impact. These include limiting quantities of alcohol, spacing drinks throughout the night (and drinking water), not drinking on an empty stomach, and having a good amount of alcohol-free days throughout the week.The benefits of quitting alcoholWith no safe amount of alcohol consumption, there are benefits to cutting back. The benefits are far-reaching, covering the body, mind, and spirit. The Priory Group in the UK, which specializes in addiction, list some of the following benefits:After 1 week without alcoholHigher levels of creativity, more energy (thanks to higher levels of hydration and more REM sleep), better physical performance.After 2 weeks without alcoholAcid reflux in the stomach normalizes, and thanks to a reduction in “empty” calories contained in drink, you might begin to lose weight.After 3 weeks without alcoholBlood pressure reduces, leading to a lower risk of heart attack and stroke, improved vision, and better kidney health.After 4 weeks without alcoholSkin looks better due to hydration, increased cell turnover, liver function recovers.(PeopleImages / Getty)When you stop drinking completely, all of these benefits come from quitting alcohol for a month! That’s not to mention the money saved on drinks. What’s perhaps even more of an incentive is what can be done with the above benefits. How would your life look if you had more energy, more creativity, and more physical functionality? Do you want to stop drinking? Does drinking heavily mean so much to you that you can’t make and experiment for a month, just to see what happens?For me, saying no to alcohol meant saying yes to so many more things in life I found meaningful and important. What things could you say “yes” to if you cut down on drinking alcohol? To abuse alcohol can be so harmful, but giving up drinking - even if for a short time - can be life-changing when done with purpose and direction.6 tips on quitting alcoholAgain, this isn’t a replacement for professional support. At Goalcast, our focus is always on self-development and fulfilling your potential. These tips will support you in reducing, or quitting alcohol in a way that is inspired to help you reach your goals, improve your health and happiness. For what’s it’s worth, I can personally vouch for the validity of the below tips:1. Create a vision of sobrietySomething led you to read this article. You might be experiencing a nagging feeling that you’d like to cut back on alcohol, or you might be tired of the effect it's having on your life. Either way, a great starting point is to create a clear vision of sobriety. Make this vision bold and bright. Perhaps you’d meet a friend early for coffee on a Saturday morning with a clear head. Maybe you’d spend Friday evenings getting your side hustle off the ground or taking time to read or write. The aim of this practice in visualization is to make the alternative to drinking so appetizing you can’t help but try it out. In other words, this reframes the process from “quitting” alcohol to “gaining” all the qualities contained within your vision.2. Ignore common alcohol mythsCultural norms are sustained by building blocks of beliefs, stories, and myths. Alcohol consumption is no different. When you take on the task of giving up alcohol, you will be confronted with unconscious beliefs around doing so.I like to view these are the potential roadblocks on the journey of sobriety — checkpoints you’ll encounter that offer you choices to continue on the new path, or return to old habits. Common myths you’ll encounter likely depend on your circumstances, such as age, your peer group, the drinking habits of people around you and your culture. For example, one myth of being sober is that you’re no fun or boring. At least, that’s what some of your toxic friends might say. That alcohol consumption is linked with fun is troublesome, to say the least. I experienced this a lot in the beginning, and it takes a lot to stay resolute.3. Embrace the stages of changeThe transtheoretical model of behavior change is a fancy way of describing the way people transform behavior. It was introduced in the late 1970s by researchers James Prochaska and Carlo DiClemente and includes six distinct stages. A condensed overview of these stages are:PrecontemplationThe point where someone isn’t considering change, usually characterized by denial.ContemplationPeople become aware of the benefit of change and start to experience inner conflict towards current behavior.PreparationChange has been identified and preparation begins, in the form of research. Reading this article counts as research — go you!ActionThis is where a plan begins with direct action. Reading this article is one step, but will you act on the guidance provided?MaintenanceOnce a new behavior is introduced, the next step is to find consistency over time.RelapseThe point of reverting back to old behaviors, accompanied by feelings of frustration or failure.Understanding these different steps can provide clarity and patience to the process, and help you avoid any adverse mental health issues. It’s normal to take time to act, but, most importantly, relapses are common. This model also makes a vital distinction between a lapse and a relapse. The former is a temporary slip-up — saying yes to a drink on a night out, for example. The latter is a complete return to old behavioral patterns and substance abuseWhen it comes to giving up alcohol, being compassionate towards lapses is one way of building consistency. Don’t view a slip-up as a failure, but use it as motivation to get back on track with your goals.4. Know you never need to justify saying “no”If you give up alcohol I can almost guarantee you’ll make some people uncomfortable. I’ve experienced both sides of this — as a heavy drinker who felt uncomfortable around people who didn’t “need” to drink on night’s out, and as someone who wasn’t drinking, faced by a barrage of questions by people who wanted to know why, or even made judgments about my lack of drink.When I quit alcohol I socialized in a group where we’d regularly meet and drink heavily. To a lot of my friends, my lack of drinking seemed sudden (keeping the stages of change in mind, I’d contemplated and prepared for a while beforehand) and I was faced with a lot of questions. Some people were curious and inspired. Others… not so much. I remember one woman who, in front of a big group, started telling me I thought I was better than everyone else, or that I was too cool to drink! I responded by telling her that, actually, I stopped drinking because of depression and anxiety, but thanked her for her opinion. She later apologized.The point being, people will enquire or question your decision. This can be from curiosity, “jokes,” or judgments. Know that you never, ever have to justify saying no to a drink. If anyone forces you to explain or minimizes your intention (for example, buying you a drink anyway, or saying “ah, it’s just one drink, don’t worry”) that’s their issue. This leads us onto…5. Set boundaries as best you canBecause alcohol is such a social drug, quitting comes with boundary setting.Just like when you’re quitting smoking, it can feel almost impossible to quit without saying no to others or facing expectations. I’d go as far as to say quitting alcohol is one of the best self-development opportunities there is because of all the challenges involved: setting boundaries is one of them, honoring values over peer pressure is another.In my experience, some people take a simple no straight away and ask no more. Others push back. When it comes to setting boundaries, you can only control the way you communicate. You can’t control how someone responds. So, if someone continues to disrespect your boundary setting around alcohol, feel free to thank them and leave the situation if necessary.It’s trial and error, so be patient with yourself. Experiment with what works. You might find avoiding all situations that involve heavy drinking helpful in the beginning, or you might be brave and enter situations without drinking. 6. Fill the space left behindQuitting alcohol, in some ways, shares similarities with a breakup. When you end a relationship with an ex, you’re suddenly confronted by lots of space in your schedule — the time you spent together, activities or hobbies you shared, suddenly disappear. This lack of drinking triggers periods of grief, and a sense of loss. But through that loss comes the opportunity to fill the space with new, exciting opportunities.Your relationship with alcohol mirrors this. When you give up, you’ll notice that, suddenly, your entire schedule looks different. That’s not to say you can’t go out and party and enjoy yourself just as much, if not more. But the cold harsh truth is revealed: some activities and relationships depended on alcohol.In the beginning, you might feel lost. But the key is to fill the space as best you can. I remember the first few mornings I woke up on a Sunday without a hangover — it was blissful! (Mladen Zivkovic / Getty)I went to the gym. I meditated. I started to write and express my creativity. These moments came before I gave up completely. But they gave me enough to anchor into and eventually led to me quitting altogether.In conclusionYou are the creator of your life. Have fun with alternative options and explore. What would your ideal Friday evening look like without alcohol? Rather than be passive and go along with a crowd, what if you’re the person who thinks up a plan and orchestrates a healthier alternative?Be patient and kind with the process. Quitting alcohol isn’t easy. Make sure you acknowledge and celebrate every achievement along the way — every time you opt for lemonade over beer, go home early, go to a restaurant and say no to wine, etc. These are all steps along the way.(d3sign / Getty)Find your natural sweet spot. Some enjoy the occasional drink. Others give up completely. What’s more important than any image of how sobriety should look is being true to yourself. If deep down you feel like you’d like to take time away from drinking, then hopefully these tips will help you along the way.

Social Media Addiction: How to Protect Yourself
Mental Health

Social Media Addiction: How to Protect Yourself

In the early days of social media, checking in on your friends and loved ones through social platforms required you to physically log on to a computer. With only a few platforms available, it was easy to limit social media usage, using it to stay connected and update others on your personal and professional life, then logging off and stepping away without much of a second thought. Today, in the United States, Canada, and around the world, social media use looks much different than it did just a few decades ago. Thanks to evolving technology, we can now access our social media accounts from anywhere. And with so many social media sites and platforms to subscribe to, we’re spending more time than ever inside our mental pod, something akin to The Matrix.The result? An estimated 210 million people in the U.S. are suffering from social media addiction, and in some cases, self esteem issues. Many experts speculate that this number has increased exponentially since COVID-19. Social media became the obvious answer for how to stay connected when cut off from friends and loved ones when we were stuck inside during the pandemic. But spending too much time on social media has proven to have negative benefits when it comes to our mental health as a result.In this article, we’ll explore the signs of social media addiction, how to tell if you’re a social media addict, and what steps to take in order to limit social media use so you can use social media in a healthy way. What is social media addiction?According to addictioncenter.com, social media addiction falls under the category of behavioral addictions. Behavioral addictions form when a person becomes reliant on repeated behaviors that feel good. Similar to an addiction to gambling, social media addiction activates our brain in a similar way. When we create a social media post that garners a lot of likes and shares, it triggers the reward center of our brains – the same one that activates when we consume an addictive substance, such as cocaine. Why does social media activate our brains in this manner? Talking about ourselves feels good – something that social media allows users to do in excess. And with social media so easily accessible to us, relying on a quick dopamine hit through likes and shares on a social media post becomes easily addicting. Those who suffer from narcissism, a toxic personality trait, may find social media appealing or easily addicting given the opportunity to inflate one’s self importance through social media use. When taking a closer look at how social media platforms make money, it becomes easy to see how they’re built to encourage a social media addiction. The longer social media users stay logged on to a social media app, the more likely they are to see advertising and in turn, more likely to make a purchase. Basically, it pays for social media platforms to encourage social media users to stay on for longer – social media addiction actually benefits their business model, and is a key part of the product development process.People who struggle with in person social anxiety can also be at higher risk for developing a social media addiction. Initially, social media may seem like a great solution for fostering connections when you suffer from social anxiety in person, since online communities on social media platforms offer a way to socialize and share without having to be physically present. However, due to the addictive nature of social media, it’s easy for these online relationships to start taking precedence over not only the in-person relationships we value in our lives, but over our professional responsibilities as well. The negative effects of social media addictionHow would you feel if you were unable to check your social media? What’s the longest that you’ve gone without logging on to your social media accounts? If the idea of being away from social media gives you anxiety, you’re in good company. Excessive social media use has been correlated with higher rates of anxiety as well as depression, loneliness, and even self harm and suicide. The addiction to social media is real, and the health information we’ve discovered from research is not promising.Are you concerned that you may have a social media addiction? Here are a few other signs you may be addicted to social media. Checking social media takes priority over personal relationshipsYou’re out spending time with friends or family in person, but you can’t seem to resist the urge to check social media. If you’re paying more attention to your social media interactions than you are to the friends and family you’re with in person, this can be a sign of a social media addiction.Negative effects on your mental healthIf feelings of anger or anxiety creep up when you’re away from social media networks for an extended period of time – or when you’re unable to check in due to connectivity issues or other circumstances, this can be an indicator that you’re addicted to social media. People who experience these feelings may have a difficult time understanding why they’re feeling this way – but being able to identify these feelings and correlate them to the period of time where you’re logged off of social media can be the first step in breaking a social media addiction. Spending more time online than with peopleIf you’re spending more time in the virtual world on your social media accounts, this can be an indicator that you may have a social media addiction. (Dmitry Marchenko / EyeEm / Getty)If the connections you’re building virtually hold more weight than your in person relationships, to the point where your relationships are suffering at the expense of you spending most of your time on social media, it may be time to re-evaluate your relationship with social media.Lack of interest in hobbiesTake a moment to evaluate the hobbies and interests you have outside of social media. If you’re finding that you no longer spend time doing things that once interested you, or have no other interests or hobbies that don’t involve social media, this can signify a potential social media addiction. Negative impact on your professional lifeIs work suffering because of your social media use? Are you constantly finding yourself pulled away from work to check your social media accounts? Do you spend so much time on social media during the work day that you’re falling behind on your tasks? Has your manager or coworkers made comments regarding your work performance? If your social media use has started to impact your work performance, this can be a sign of a social media addiction.Feeling depressed or stressed out about where your life currently isTheodore Roosevelt once said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” Social media allows us all to carefully curate the version of our lives we portray to those who follow us on social media accounts. The more time we spend on social media looking at how other’s lives have progressed, the more likely it becomes that we’ll compare our lives to the people we follow — and can start to feel depressed or stressed out about our lives not living up to the excitement of others on social media.Tips to curb your social media addictionAs with any addiction, quitting social media cold turkey will likely have adverse effects on your overall mental health and well being. It’s important to wean yourself off social media slowly, focusing on changes to your overall patterns and behaviors that feel manageable and not overwhelming. Doing so will help you combat social media addiction more effectively in the long run, and will help with beating social media addiction for good. Here are a few key steps to consider when dealing with a social media addiction.Audit your excessive social media useIn order to determine how to proceed with weaning yourself off of social media and curbing your social media addiction, you need to know where you’re starting from. Spend a few days logging how much time you’re spending on each social media platform. How often are you posting and creating new content on your social media accounts? How long do you spend scrolling through other people’s social media posts? How many likes or comments are you giving out on social media regularly? Consider using time tracking apps that can help paint an accurate picture of how long you’re spending on each social media platform. With the annual average of time spent on social media clocking in at around 1,300 hours per year according to a recent survey, seeing the amount of time you’re dedicating to social media laid out in front of you can help you understand the best next steps to take in order to curb your social media addiction. Turn off your notificationsWhen your phone is constantly pinging alerting you of new likes and activity on your social media accounts, it can be tough to ignore. This also puts the control of how often you’re checking social media back into your hands. Rather than being reactive and picking your phone up any time there’s activity, turning off social media notifications gives you the power to determine when is best for you to check in on your social media accounts. This can also help you start to be more present when in person with friends and family. Instead of having to react to social media notifications, you can check in on your social media accounts before or after your in person plans.Set social media parametersWho are the most important people you follow on social media? Instead of allowing the social media algorithm to dictate what posts you see first, check the settings on your social media accounts to see whether or not you’re able to create “close friends” groups. Certain social media accounts enable users to choose what they see first and from whom, which can help you log on and log off more efficiently. Put your phone away during work hoursIf your social media addiction is interfering with your professional performance at work, keeping your phone in either another room or in a drawer at your desk can help eliminate the temptation to check your social media accounts frequently during the day. Consider deleting social media appsStick with me here. While it may sound extreme to delete social media apps off your phone, allowing yourself access to your social media accounts only during times when you’re in front of a computer can help curb your social media use, and can be an effective way to cut back on the time you’re spending on social media. Keep electronics out of your bedroom(Adam Hester / Getty)This is good advice regardless of whether or not you’re trying to curb your social media addiction, since blue light from electronic screens can suppress melatonin, the hormone our body makes in order to put us to sleep. Keep your phone, laptop and tablet in a separate room where you sleep. This will help improve any sleep issues you may be having as a result of social media addiction, and can help you get better sleep overall.Start a new hobby (or pick up an old one)If all of your time as of late has been spent on social media, engaging in a new hobby or activity on a regular basis can help keep your mind focused on the task at hand, and away from your social media accounts. Consider social hobbies — maybe there’s a local sports league looking for new players, or a volunteer group in need of an extra set of hands. Participating in a hands-on hobby will help keep your hands busy with something else other than swiping through and liking social media posts. Make plans with friends and familyMake it a point to schedule in person time with friends and family during the week. Whenever you spend time with your social network in person, challenge yourself to turn off your phone or keep it on silent, so that you’re not tempted to check social media while you’re with them in person. When you’re doing something fun with others, it can be tempting to want to post about it on social media in real time. Instead, ask the friends or family members you’re with to take photos, then have them send the photos to you after you part ways. This will allow you to be present in the moment — something that can go a long way in healing a social media addiction. Getting mental health help for excessive social media useNot everyone is able to beat social media addiction on their own. If these tips for beating social media addiction are hard to do, or you find yourself consistently failing at limiting your use of social media sites, working with a mental health professional may be the necessary next step. Here are a few options to consider if you need help limiting your social media use. Talk therapyThis style of therapy is a type of psychotherapy where mental health professionals work with patients to help them see the negative effects of their continued behavior on social media. You may be aware of the negative effects social media use is having at a high level, but drilling down and taking a look at just how severe of a negative mental health impact this is having on you — from someone giving an outside, professional perspective — can go a long way in helping people with social media addiction start to amend their behaviors. Coping mechanismsYour mental health professional may recommend certain ways to curb the anxiety you feel while trying to spend less time on social media. Coping mechanisms can include ways to destress, such as yoga and meditation, or may incorporate a variety of different therapy methods during the course of treatment. If you’ve been suffering from depression and/or anxiety as a result of your social media addiction, your mental health professional may treat these symptoms leveraging different methods as well.Family therapy (Maskot / Getty)If your social media addiction is having a negative impact on your relationship with your family, a group therapy session with the members of your household may help everyone understand your social media addiction and how to best support you. On the flipside, hearing your loved ones express concern over how your social media addiction has impacted them as well can be a powerful motivator for change.In ConclusionSocial media addiction is a real, prevalent addiction that can be hard to overcome. What may have started for you as a way to stay connected to friends and family members, to meet new people or just as a form of entertainment can quickly and easily become an addiction — one that can be damaging to not only your mental health, but to the important relationships that you have with others.If you think you may have a social media addiction, the first step is to take a hard, honest look at how much time you’re spending on social media, and how your social media use is impacting your life personally and professionally. From there, take steps to start limiting your social media use and check in with yourself regularly throughout the process to track your progress.If you’re still struggling with social media addiction, know that you’re not alone and that you don’t have to go through it alone, either. Find a mental health professional who has experience treating behavioral addictions that can work closely with you one-on-one to determine the best course of treatment. Beating social media addiction will not happen overnight. As with breaking any addiction, it’s a process that can include both wins and setbacks. Don’t get discouraged if after a few weeks of progress, you find yourself slipping back into old habits on social media. Do your best to take setbacks in stride, and pay extra attention to the negative effects these setbacks have when you do. This type of reflection can go a long way in making positive progress in the future. You can do this!