5 Tips For Staying Sober Over The Festive Season

Whether this is going to be your first sober Christmas or your 10th you need to put a little bit of thought and effort into how you are going to manage the upcoming festive season.

Over the Christmas period and New Years Eve the alcohol flows, the parties are pumping and drugs are encountered more often at social gatherings. Even addicts and alcoholics with long time recovery will be facing these challenges.

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5 Tis For Staying Sober Over The Festive Season

Have A Plan

Make sure to plan your Christmas and News Years Eve festivities long in advance. If you are new to recovery and facing your first sober festive season you may feel at a bit of a loss. Very likely previous festive seasons were rather drunk and debortuous.

The best way to spend your first Christmas and New Years Eve is with other recovering alcoholics and addicts that understand exactly what you are going through. You need to be around people that are sober and that can show you how to have fun without alcohol and drugs. You need to create new memories and experiences to look back on.

Chances are high that you are not in contact with all the people that you were using with and drinking with. Being in recovery is about doing things differently and surrounding yourself with the winners.

Many groups in recovery hold sober parties over the festive season – make sure you know where and when they are and make a commitment to join.

If you are going to spend Christmas with family make sure that you plan ahead, that you are aware of your triggers and how you are going to cope. Talk to your family, recovery sponsor and counselor about your relapse prevention plan. The more support you have the better.

Be prepared for the conflicting feelings you will have. Chances are high that you are going to be feeling a lot of uncomfortable and often conflicting feelings. You may feel sad, lonely, angry, anxious and even excited. All of these feelings can be triggers. Have a plan in place for dealing with these feelings.

Christmas Tree decoration

Stay Active & Busy

Stay active during the holidays both with activities to do, but also with physical activity that will be good for you health. Find things to do that will give you a full body exercise as well as provide fun and entertainment.

Go hiking, mountain biking or any other outdoor activities – get yourself out there into nature. It will do you the world of good.

Another great way to stay clean is to read recovery literature – you can read the Alcoholics Anonymous Big Book which gives a lot of recovery information, along with personal stories from alcoholics. There are also lots of books written by alcoholics and addicts that will give you strength, inspiration and understanding of addiction.


You need to keep yourself busy and, just as important, you need to create new memories to look back on. It is so common for addicts and alcoholics to think back to their drinking and using days, remembering only the fun parts and leaving out all the damages and chaos that came with it. Building new and happy memories of sober festive seasons will make it easier to face each time.

Stay Connected With Your Support System

If you are a member of Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, SMART recovery group or any other recovery group such as through your church make sure to stay connected and attend meetings throughout the holidays.

If you went to a drug rehab center contact them and find out if they have anything planned for the festive season that you can attend.

If you are going away on holiday find out if that area has any recovery groups, chances are very high that they do. Just because you are on holiday does not mean you can forget about your recovery program – you will need it more than ever.

Make sure you have a sober buddy on call that you can phone at any time if you feel like having a drug or taking drugs. You may even want to have a sober buddy for the holidays – you can help each other stay sober and attend events together. It is so much easier to stay sober when you are not alone.

Woman wrapping Christmas gift

People, Places & Things

I’m sure you’ve heard this before over and over again – but it must be said again. You need to avoid the people, places and things associated with your using. Be very careful about the events that you attend, pay careful attention to who may be going to events that you would like to go to and make sure that you stay away from any places that may trigger you.

How To Cope Being Offered Alcohol/ Drugs

Chances are high that no matter what you do or where you go, at some stage during the festive season, someone may offer you a drink or a drug.

Make sure that you have a response prepared rather than being caught by surprise not knowing what to say. You may be comfortable with saying you can’t drink, but you may not want to tell people yet why you are not drinking. That is fine if you don’t want to give the real reason, but a response lined up and ready.

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Restoring Dental Health After Addiction

Substance abuse is something that takes its toll on the entire body. This includes the mouth. When a person is addicted to drugs the teeth can become sensitive, stained, and develop cracks and cavities. In extreme addiction cases a person may lose teeth and possibly end up with damage to their gums as well. Fortunately, modern dentistry can provide people who are recovering from addiction with a second chance at healthier teeth and a brighter smile.

Restoring Dental Health After Addiction

Meth Mouth

Meth is a drug that is particularly hard on the teeth. The reason for this is because it is highly acidic. Using meth will decrease the production of saliva. Saliva is important for buffering acidic attacks that occur in the mouth. In addition, most people who use meth will crave sugar and often have a diet that is high in sugary drinks and carbohydrates.

Highs from meth can last for up to twelve hours, which means there are long stretches when dental care is simply overlooked, with brushing and flossing regularly being highly unlikely. Meth also acts as an appetite suppressant, which means that many meth users are often malnourished. All of these factors combined can lead to poor gum health and rampant tooth decay.

Other Drugs that Affect the Teeth

While meth is one of the most well known drugs to cause tooth decay and other dental issues, it is not the only drug that can cause these issues. Crack cocaine is highly acidic as well and can also cause dental health issues. Simply drinking soda regularly can also wreak havoc on your teeth. Smoking tobacco and pot can cause the teeth to become yellow and may also cause decay.

Restore smile

Fixing your Smile

For those who are recovering from a drug addiction or even a soda addiction, getting your smile back can go a long way when it comes to building confidence. It is important to note that a smile revision cannot occur if a person is still using. It is best to wait to see a dentist until after the substance use has been completely stopped. It is actually dangerous for someone who is actively using meth to undergo anesthesia or to be given nitrous oxide to undergo dental care. This is why dentists require a patient to be well into recovery before providing any type of care. In fact, smile rehabilitation can help motivate a person to stay sober.

Types of Treatment

The treatment for fixing a person’s teeth after addiction will vary based on the individual. How the dentist will fix the teeth will depend on the person’s health history as well as how much damage has been done to the gums and the teeth. The very first step to fixing your smile will be to see the dentist for an evaluation. From the evaluation the dentist will be able to create a treatment plan that will help stop further dental decay. A thorough cleaning of the teeth and gums will likely be the first step. Cavities will be filled and possibly root canals and extractions.

In some cases, a dentist may recommend fixing your teeth with braces. This will be decided on after your mouth is freed from disease. Dentures and implants may also be a necessary part of your smile reconstruction.

While it may take some work to reconstruct your smile after addiction, it can be done. The first step is to recover from your addiction and then move on from there with your dentist along to help you at each step of the way.

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Foods You Need to Eat if you Are Depressed or Down in the Dumps

If you are feeling low or if you know that your mental health could do with some support then your diet may be to blame. After all, if you have a very poor diet then this could really be limiting your motivation and it can also have a profound impact on your energy levels as well. If you want to try and make yourself feel better or if you know that you need to try and give yourself some additional support when it comes to your own nervous system then these foods can certainly help you to get to where you need to be.

Fatty Fish

Believe it or not, fatty fish is really rich in Omega-3. It is also very rich in docosahexaenoic acid as well. Studies show that foods which are higher in Omega-3 such as herring, salmon and even sardines are all great for your body and they can even reduce depression and hyperactivity disorders. The main reason for this is because it has a huge impact on the neurotransmitters that are in the brain and this includes dopamine and even serotonin. If you are able to support the synapses in the brain then this can help you with your mood, your learning ability and even your memory as well.

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Whole Grains

The main source of energy for the brain is glucose. This tends to come from carbohydrates. Of course, when you look at simple carbohydrates you will find that these can increase your low moods by creating a spike in the blood sugar. This can have very similar effects on the brain as drug abuse. Healthy sources of carbohydrates however can easily provide your brain with a steady fuel so that you can avoid those blood sugar spikes. This will also help you to avoid heartburn as well, as this normally comes from sugary or fatty foods. If you do find that you struggle with heartburn then you can consider taking products such as Zantac as this can really help.

Lean Protein

Lean protein is ideal if you want to boost the amount of serotonin in the body. The main reason for this is because most of your body is made up of protein, and some people even call it the Prozac of nature. Lean sources of protein can include egg, chicken, fish, turkey and even beans. They help to keep your serotonin levels balanced and they can also facilitate the tryptophan in the brain as well. This helps to reduce both anxiety and depression, not to mention that it also increases your own cognitive functioning. If you are finding it hard to battle the anxiety that you have then increasing the amount of lean protein in your diet can certainly help.

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Leafy Greens

There’s a reason why Popeye is so keen on spinach! Mustard greens, broccoli, romaine and more are all very rich in Vitamin B. This has been proven, in the past to try and reduce depression and even insomnia as well. If you are suffering from chronic fatigue then this can also really help you. The main reason for this is because broccoli contains selenium and this is a mineral that plays a huge part in the immune system. It also plays a part in the thyroid metabolism and even in reproduction as well. Various studies have been done and they all show that low levels of selenium do contribute to things like anxiety, fatigue and more.

Active Cultured Yoghurt

If you are struggling with anxiety or even depression then active-cultured yoghurts can really help you. You should also look out for fermented foods, such as pickled vegetables. The main reason for this is because they contain probiotics. This is healthy bacteria and this has shown in the past that it can reduce anxiety and stress hormones. It can also have a huge impact on the neurotransmitter GABA as well. If you find that you eat a lot of junk food then there is a chance that the healthy bacteria in your gut has been compromised and you may even find that you struggle with your energy levels. By eating foods that are higher in active cultures, you can help to nurse yourself and your body back to health while also putting an end to your own anxiety and depression.

Of course, if you are struggling with anxiety or even depression then there are things that you can do to help. You’d be surprised at how much of a difference your diet can make to your mood.

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After Addiction: Getting Back to Feeling Like ‘You’ Again

When addiction has its grasp on you, you truly do lose a part of yourself. The addiction becomes the most important thing in your life- it comes ahead of family, friends and everything you value and hold dear to you. When addiction has had its hold on you for a while, you begin to lose a sense of who and what you once were. Many people find they become a shell of their former selves, as the only thing they care about in that time is where their next fix is coming from.

Sourced from this website

When addiction has its grasp on you, you truly do lose a part of yourself. The addiction becomes the most important thing in your life- it comes ahead of family, friends and everything you value and hold dear to you. When addiction has had its hold on you for a while, you begin to lose a sense of who and what you once were. Many people find they become a shell of their former selves, as the only thing they care about in that time is where their next fix is coming from.

Restore your looks

Addiction can be hard on a person’s looks. If you’ve been addicted to a substance for some time then your appearance will have probably suffered. One way you can get back to feeling like yourself is to restore your looks. Look into things like all on 4 dental implants to have missing teeth replaced. Go to a salon and have a facial, have them recommend some products that will bring a healthy glow back to your skin. Have your hair cut and coloured and buy some new clothes that you feel good in. Wanting to feel good isn’t being shallow. When you’re happy with the way you look you have confidence, and you’ll feel happier on the inside.

Make new friends

When you break your addiction, it also means breaking away from friends, relationships and acquaintances who were associated with that kind of life. Unfortunately if you want to stay clean in the long run, you need to keep away from anyone who is involved with your past habits. Be social, and meet new people who are suited to the new sober you. Enjoy activities and try new things which will make you feel fulfilled and keep you on the straight and narrow. New hobbies can give your life purpose and make it easier to resist the temptation of returning back to your old ways. There are lots of apps which schedule groups and meetups for people with different interests, go along and meet some new friendly faces. Go out there and live life to the fullest, making up for the time you missed out on when you were caught up in addiction.

Learn to forgive yourself

As an ex addict, chances are you’re harbouring a lot of guilt and blame yourself. One of the healthiest things you can do is to let this go. Instead of looking back, move forward- acknowledge the mistakes you made but use these to learn and become a better person. There are lots of complex reasons that people can become addicted to things, it’s something that affects all genders, races, wealth classes and more- you’re certainly not the first or last person it will get a hold of. When you can truly forgive yourself and let go, you’re able to put the past behind you and move on to something better.

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What to Look For in a Rehab Center – Austin Edition

A vast majority of people would not even want to legitimately think about the process of substance abuse rehabilitation. It is long, tiring, challenging, and frightening, all at the same time, and in no particular order. That is why, if you do decide to take it up, or want to help someone else take it up, proper support on the journey is a must. For some background knowledge on the whole idea and the various treatment types, you can visit this web page. For the purpose of this post, though, we will give you an overview of the four essential things to look out for when selecting a rehabilitation center, something that the folks over in Austin seem to have pretty much polished up to perfection.

Is the rehab center location and their program near you?

Obviously, you are going to care about how convenient the location is. Nobody wants to make a difficult project even more tedious by adding a grueling commute on top of everything else.

Insofar as is possible for you, aim to choose a rehabilitation facility that is near (or relatively near) your home. The closer to home your rehab location is, the easier it will be to go through with it, since the support and closeness of one’s family and friends (geographical as well as emotional) is a crucial factor in treatment success for the vast majority of people.

Luckily, the rehab facilities in Texas can be found throughout the entire state, so a convenient one should be easy to find. In Austin alone, there are a fair few, and you can find a comprehensive list at this link: https://www.rehabcenter.net/rehab-centers/texas-rehab-centers/austin/.

support and togetherness

What recovery programs do they offer?

Nowadays, recovering from a history of substance abuse involves so much more than medication and daunting tests of willpower. There are all kinds of programs available to those seeking treatment, and they are as varied as the people who undertake them.

A modern rehabilitation center can be considered a life recovery academy, a place where you re-learn how to take good care of both your body and your mind, taking your time in a relaxing, nourishing environment. Since one solution will never fit all, a range of therapy types now make a point of tracking progress, adjusting the process along the way, and addressing all of the client’s needs as opposed to just one obvious addiction issue. Things like yoga and outdoors activities, art courses, exercise, and individual work are added to the standard detoxification procedures in order to boost confidence along with health and balance physical and mental recovery.

Pensive woman

What kind of care will be available after you leave the center?

Although it kind of goes without saying, we will point it out just in case: your rehabilitation work is, in fact, nowhere near finished by the time you leave your chosen center’s residential program. You will still have to integrate your results into your everyday life and find ways to maintain them in the future. As with most significant undertakings in life, it takes a long time and a fair amount of after-effort to consolidate your newly achieved recovery and reduce the constantly lurking possibility of a relapse. To round up your healing from substance abuse and ensure long-term change, you will need a solid aftercare program, so make sure to inquire about one.

How much will all of that cost you?

After everything we listed above, you might want to ask about a projected price for these services. A huge rehab bill is not motivating in any conceivable way, of course. However, although it may be somewhat irksome, there is no one template estimate that anyone can give. The price of substance abuse rehabilitation will vary according to several factors, including the location of the center, the treatment programs they offer, and the kinds of facilities they have at their disposal. In general, they can be split into standard and luxury rehab centers, and there are also low-cost or free options available for those with a low or nonexistent income. Your local social services or health department will be able to recommend

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10 Things I Have Learned In 10 Years Of Sobriety

On Thursday 02 August 2018 it was my 10 years sobriety birthday and I honestly can’t believe I have made it so far. Here’s the truth – the thought of living without drugs or alcohol has always been too scary for me. The thought that I am “not allowed” to do something is not good for me. I have a defiant personality – nobody must tell me I can’t because I will go and do it.

Yes I know not exactly mature, but its the truth and I can say it. Instead I have always told myself if I want to use drugs or drink I am allowed to. Instead right now I choose not to. You see if its my choice its ok.

When I’ve had hard days and was tempted I told myself yes I can use and if I still feel this bad tomorrow I can do it, but for this moment I choose sobriety.

I have now chosen sobriety every single day for 10 days and it is incredible. On my 10th sober birthday I was overcome with emotion, I was teary all day. I didn’t expect that.

Hello, I’ve had 9 other big milestones, so what is so special about my first double digit birthday? Honestly I don’t know, but for some reason this one really got the tears going in a big way.

So I guess that this is a big recovery milestone, and in celebration I will share some of the things I have learned in last 10 years.

10 Things I've Learned In 10 Years Of Sobriety

Addiction Has Very Little To Do With Drugs or Alcohol

Yes I know, it sounds crazy right. We all picture addicts as lying in the gutter and not being able to say no to drugs. It’s the alcoholic that cannot stay away from the drink and he drinks until he pukes and passes out.

No, not really this is not true at all. There are so many things that people believe to be true when it comes to addiction.

Addiction is something else entirely, it is actually not centered whatever it is that you are addicted to whether it be street drugs, prescription medication, alcohol, sex, gambling, eating, not eating, exercise, work, internet…

It is about the person.

It is about why I used, what I was trying to escape from. It was about who became when I used drugs and drank. It was not about how much I used, when or how. It wasn’t about drugs, it was about me and the black hole I was trying to fill.

When the drugs and alcohol were gone I had to face myself and I was one messed up person.

Many people assume that the most part of addiction therapy is focused on keeping the addict away from their drug of choice, when in fact it is focused around working through past trauma, changing negative behavioral patterns and providing the addict with tools to cope with their emotions and with every day life.

Recovery Takes Time and Work

There is no such thing as recovered, I have said it over and I over. I am an addict. I am in recovery. I am not recovered. That would imply that I am cured and I am fixed. That will mean I can use again.

I know I can’t use.

It is so interesting to look back on how I have changed and matured over the years. When I was one year clean in my mind I was really working recovery and I was as close to “fixed” as an addict can get. Oh my word no, I was still so messed up then.

I look at even the first 2, 3 or even 4 years of recovery and I was like an emotionally immature child.

Recovery is not going to rehab, it is not going to meetings or doing step work. It is about living recovery, working recovery every day. Being a recovering addict is part of me and something that is part of everything I do. I am always conscious of it and know that I must evaluate every decision I make to see if I am slipping into old behavior. Yes even now 10 years down the line, in fact especially now, so I don’t slip into complacency.

Water lotus flower

Labels Suck

Addict, alcoholic, sex and love addict, codependent, bipolar disorder, nicotine addict, compulsive spender…. oh my word so many labels and so little time. I used to get so stuck on all the labels.

I am who I am and yes maybe those things are part of me, but they do not define me. I am also a daughter, a sister, a wife, a mother and many more things.

When I was first diagnosed as bipolar it felt like my world was crashing and I had this huge label on my forehead telling everyone how damaged I was.

If you are in early recovery, let them slap labels on you and just relax. You are still the same person you were yesterday before you got the label. Learn about it, figure out how to manage it and find some coping skills, but don’t get too stuck on it.

There’s More Than One Way

Yes I got clean in rehab and I am part of the 12 step program but that is not the only way. There are people that get clean through their church, youth programs, SMART recovery and cognitive behavioral therapy and they are just fine.

When I got clean it was hammered into me that the 12 steps is THE way. It is a way and it is the way I did it but I now have a much more open mind and yes I attend meetings every now and then but I have a wide circle of recovery friends and lots of them do things differently. That’s ok.

I still do some 12 step meetings, but I mostly have formed my own support network of recovering addicts, other mothers and people with mental health issues. I’ve joined online support groups and I take part in online coaching which I find very beneficial.

Peace and harmony

An Addict Will Do It When Ready

When I sponsored addicts I would get so hung up on them staying clean – if an addict is ready he will find the way. He will find recovery and he will get clean. If he is not ready it will not happen. Yes things that I say or do can perhaps make a difference but it is out of my hands.

Now I don’t get too involved, I take a step back and I guide where needed. I am happier for it.

Happiness Is A Choice

Yes I know there are people with clinical depression that need counseling and possibly medication but I am no talking about those people. I am talking about me.

When I decided to be happy I became happy. When I decided to love myself I started to love myself. When I decided to love my life I started to love my life.

A lot of our mindset is a choice. Often we choose to be stuck. I unstuck myself and I am so grateful I did. I was stuck long into my recovery journey and it is only quite recently that I feel well and truly unstuck.

Finally I feel at one with myself and with my life. Everything feels right and I feel a peace. This is for the first time in my life.

Love Is Not A Feeling

Being a sex and love addict I was always searching for this feeling of love, for this high that comes with it. It does not exist, ok maybe he first time you fall in love with someone you get that giddy feeling but that fades away and reality sets in. After that love is a choice and it is work.

Love is a doing thing, it is not a feeling. Except when it comes to my kids… then it is an overwhelming feeling of love and loads of doing… doing washing, doing dishes, doing homework, wiping little noses…

But when it comes to my marriage there has been a lot of learning. I’ve had to grow up and learn how to truly love someone and be committed.

And love is not only about other people, it is also for myself. I need to look after myself and love myself, this too takes work.

Ashtray cigarattes

Nicotine Addiction Is HECTIC

I started smoking when I was 14 years old and I smoked for 22 years – for more than half my life. Two years ago I quit smoking and it was harder than quitting drugs and alcohol. It knocked me for a sixer, but I did it and I am proud.

I’ve started to wonder what the gateway drug really is. Some people call it marijuana but I wonder if it isn’t actually cigarettes and then alcohol? Both are more “socially acceptable” than street drugs and they are a huge problem.

I bet most people that try marijuana for the first time have smoked a cigarette first.

Active Addiction Is Harder Than Recovery

Everyone tells me “Oh it must have been so hard to get clean!” and yes it was hard. However when I really started to work on my recovery I quickly realized that is was much easier than using. I only put a fraction of the effort into my recovery that I put into using and I flew.

Being in active addiction is so much work! It is hard and it is draining. All that scheming to get money to get drugs, all that scheming to get hold of the drugs, then covering up doing the drugs and lying to people. Then lying to people to cover up the lies that you told other people. Then not remembering what lies you told to each person. All the ducking and diving and worrying.

It was awful. Being in recovery is easier, it is lighter on the soul. Yes you have to start cleaning up the messes you made but you are not living in the mess and drama anymore.

I Detest Drama

Early recovery felt strange, it always felt like something was about to happen, like something should happen. Things were so calm and smooth. It felt uncomfortable and I was always on edge.

Over time this feeling became normal. It is the absence of drama.

My life used to be constant drama and now I detest drama. When things go pear shaped now I get this awful feeling of dread in the pit of my stomach.

I like the quiet and the calm of being at home. I like routine and family life. This is what life is about.

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5 Mental Health Benefits of Cycling

It goes without saying that cycling is a rewarding, fun and invigorating activity for men and women of all ages. It’s one of the best forms of exercise if you intend to lose weight, gain strength among other benefits. But, did you know that cycling benefits your mental health?

Humanity is constantly affected by depression, anxiety, stroke and other stress-related illnesses. This is a result of daily pressures of life. They range from financial needs, work issues, to relationships and family issues.

No wonder, the substance abuse rate is high. Additionally, mental hospitals and the streets have new mental illnesses brought in every day.

Lack of a balanced mental health may have adverse effects on humans. In the recent years, most people have understood the essence of daily exercise. You not only maintain a physically fit body but also mental health.

This article will help you identify the benefits of cycling for mental health.

5 Mental Health Benefits Of Cycling

Cycling relieves stress

Like most exercises, cycling relieves stress. Cycling and other aerobic exercises reduce the formation of cortisol and adrenaline. In the process, your body produces the endorphins which are your happy hormones.

Pedalling increases the production and circulation of oxygen and consequently the production of endorphins. When your body has a high rate of endorphins, stress has no place. It also makes you focus on beneficial things for a short while.

Sometimes all your body needs is that distraction from your mental negative thoughts and pictures. Furthermore, if you live in a city that has uncontrollable traffic jam during high peak, cycling will help you save the time while relieving you of the financial stress.

The 21st century has seen the rise of work that requires people to sit in front of a computer for hours. This may result in body fatigue, eyes strain and general mental stress. Since cycling engages all your body parts, it’s the best exercise to combat the body and mental strain.

Cycling alleviates an individual’s mood, release the body tension and overall stabilizes their mental structure. As you can see, you have every reason to buy the best bike for women or men and begin cycling.

Freedom cycling

It changes your mental well being

The brain will receive a normal and enhanced blood flow which generally improves your mood, memory and shields you from the effects of aging. In fact, if you are elderly, cycling makes you active and happy thereby reducing the aging cells.

A high self-esteem is vital for every human being. You see, riding will make you set goals and work towards achieving them. You boost your self-esteem in achieving a set goal. You have something to look forward to and you feel worthy.

This activity aides in the production of serotonin and dopamine chemicals which make you feel good and happy. With these chemicals, you will sleep better thus have enough rest for your physical body to handle a new day.

The human hormonal imbalances lead to stress. Taking the right nutrition and the best form of exercise will strengthen you physically and emotionally.

It improves your creative thinking and thus productivity

Everyone in different profession suffers from a mental block at one point in time. Going for a ride makes you bond with nature which then helps you release the mental block. Take time to ride where tall trees are or at the beach among other forms of nature.

As the wind hits your face and there is an exchange of fresh air while increasing your heart rate. In the process, your mind clears of most unnecessary information stored in. this makes you feel good and creative then new ideas begin to flow.

Refocusing your brain power to daily cycling means you have diverted your attention to a positive place. This will help boost your energy levels. Its said that those who ride to their places of work are more productive.

Most people can’t understand how cycling like any other exercise boosts your energy. Here is how this happens; when you use your physical energy, the increased heart rate helps to produce chemicals that boost your energy.

Cycling outing

It combats anxiety and depression

Every other individual experience stress and anxiety at one point or another. However consistent anxiety is detrimental to your health. You begin to develop panic attacks among other related illnesses. When you cycle your cortisol and adrenaline levels balances thus maintaining a good mental health.

Besides, outdoor exercise slowly helps you move from ‘your distractive mind’. Depressed people think and create damaging mental images. In the process, they may either become sick or others decide to abuse drugs.

The mentally ill people often abuse drugs to forget their woes and experience some elation. But, this joy makes you dependent on the drug. That’s why cycling or other forms of exercise is more effective. In fact, if you can find a riding team the better. Developing a social relationship will help you out of mental illnesses.

Instead of fully depending on psychotherapy and anti-depressants, go for engaging exercise like cycling. Commit to the activity everyday and watch the difference.

Makes you happy while boosting your confidence

You don’t need to exercise for hours to boost your moods. Even a 15 minutes cycle every day is great. Various studies have indicated that those with an active lifestyle are happier. You see there are many people who ride as a form of transport, for fitness while others do it for fun.

We achieve happiness by finding out what brings you joy and doing it. Aside from that, riding produces endorphins hormones which are joy boosters. Observing yourself become fit and hearing compliments is a definite confidence booster.

When you see yourself achieving certain set goals, you will believe in yourself more.

Conclusion

Cycling is not only one of the cheapest mode of transportation but also an easy and fun mode of exercise. You don’t need massive preparation in terms of finances especially if you already have the bike. All you need is your motivation and a suitable place to ride for as little as 20 minutes a day.

As you can see, the benefits of riding abound. So, go out and join the world of riders to maintain a healthy mind, spirit and body.


About The Author

Sophie Elise is a passionate cyclist, author, and blogger. She is very passionate about writing on different types of women’s bikes, accessories, health, fitness and more. She regularly writes on sportsly.net


 

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How To Decide When To End A Relationship

A relationship takes a lot of hard work to maintain, even if you love one another. Every relationship is going to hit hard times at some point but if you’re serious about it, you should take steps to work through those problems and come out stronger on the other side. But in some cases, you can’t work through the issues in the relationship and it’s time to bring things to an end. Deciding whether there are things you can do to fix the relationship or whether you should end it can be difficult and if you don’t make the right call, you might end up regretting it for years to come. If you’re struggling to decide if you should end a relationship or not, here are some things to consider.

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Have You Spoken To A Professional?

This is usually a last resort option before you decide to end things for good. Sometimes, you and your partner just don’t know how to work around a problem but that doesn’t mean that it can’t be solved. If you go to couples counselling, they will be able to help you get to the root of the problems in the relationship and show you techniques and behaviour to help you improve things. If you get to that stage and things still aren’t working, then it might be time to throw in the towel and end the relationship.

Do You Trust Each Other?

Trust is one of the most important parts of a relationship. Your partner should be a person that you can trust without question and if that isn’t the case, you’re in big trouble. If you find that you’re constantly questioning your partner about where they’ve been or what they’ve been doing, that’s a bad sign. If you’re both feeling that way, communication will break down between you and that is going to kill the relationship completely. When you find yourself starting to mistrust one another, you need to start being honest with your partner and hope that they do the same. In some cases, you’ll find that your worries are unfounded and things will start to repair themselves but if you can’t rebuild that trust, it’s probably time to put an end to the relationship and go your separate ways.

Do You Have The Same Values?

Our personal values make us who we are. Your beliefs about the world should be important to you and your partner should be someone that understands and respects those values. That doesn’t mean you have to agree on everything and you can still have a fulfilling relationship with somebody even if you have different ideals about certain things. However, the important thing to remember is that there should always be a level of respect between the two of you. When somebody doesn’t respect your values, that’s when alarm bells should start ringing. If disagreements about things are starting to come between the two of you, you need to sit down and talk about it. If you can come to some kind of compromise and move forward, things will be ok. But if your difference of opinion is constantly causing arguments and you can’t find a way around it, the relationship isn’t likely to work out.

Are You Excited About The Future?

When you’ve been with somebody for a while and the relationship becomes serious, you’ll start thinking about the future. The idea of getting married to that person and starting a family with them should be exciting to you. But if you find that you’re thinking about it and it’s not exciting you, you need to ask yourself why. In some cases, the reason that you aren’t looking forward to your future with that person is because there are other issues with the relationship. If you can take steps to sort out those issues, you might find that your attitude changes and you start to look forward to your future together again. But if you learn to work through the other problems in the relationship and you’re still not able to picture a happy future together, that’s a sign that you just aren’t right for one another and you should not move forward with the relationship.

Do You Still Have Fun?

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In the early stages of a relationship, it’s all the good stuff without any of the bad. But when things get a bit more serious and you start living together etc. you’ll have to deal with some of the more boring day to day aspects of a relationship. That’s normal and you’re not going to be spending as much time going out on dates and having fun together like you did when you first met. However, it’s important that you’re still enjoying one another’s company. If you aren’t, you’re just 2 people living together, you’re not in a healthy relationship. All of that fun stuff comes easily at the start of a relationship but when you’ve been together for a while, you need to work at it a bit. Make an effort to find time for each other and try to do more interesting things in the evenings, rather than just sitting and watching the TV together. If you’re still struggling and even when you do find the time, you just don’t enjoy each other’s company anymore, the relationship may not be right.

Do You Still Know Them?

This sounds like an odd question but after you’ve been with somebody for a long while and you might have started to grow apart, you can lose sight of who that person is. If you think that they’ve changed a lot recently and you feel like you don’t know them anymore, that’s a warning sign. It’s normal for people to change and you shouldn’t end the relationship right away, you should make an effort to get to know them again. But if you find that you don’t get along like you did when you first met, no matter how hard you try, then the relationship probably cannot be saved.

Ending a relationship is always a huge decision so make sure that you consider these things before you do anything.

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Substance Use Disorder: Is it a Mental Illness?

Addiction is a common disease that impacts millions of people across the United States, but the lens through which we see addiction can change significantly. Many of us are familiar with the stereotype of an underachiever suffering from alcoholism or drug addiction. It’s easy to see addiction when its effects have created visible marks throughout a person’s life, such as financial difficulties or a criminal record. However, addiction also has a hidden side.

Substance Abuse Disorder - Is It A Mental Illness?

Many high-achieving individuals use drugs and alcohol in ways that cause harm, but the effects of this abuse isn’t visible to the outside observer. There isn’t a typical drug or alcohol addict. This disease impacts people from all walks of life equally. However, people who are able to effectively hide their addiction are less likely to receive treatment than those who wear their addiction on their sleeve.

For high-achieving individuals, addiction is a deeply personal issue. Many professionals facing substance abuse issues may view their addiction as a sign of personal weakness or as a moral defect in their personalities. However, it’s important to remember that addiction is simply a misapplication of the brain’s natural reward circuitry. At its core, addiction is an issue where the brain has trained its reward circuitry to respond to harmful, artificial stimuli (such as drugs and alcohol) instead of natural, beneficial ones.

The reward circuitry in the human brain is driven by a complex chemical cascade. At the core of most reward pathways in the brain is dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that helps regulate mood. It’s also used by the brain as part of its reward system. When the human body does something that is considered beneficial (in terms of evolutionary survival and reproduction), the brain releases a burst of dopamine.

Lonely woman on pier

Human reward circuitry is designed to respond to activities and environments that improve the odds of passing on genes to the next generation. When we eat a delicious meal, our brains are flooded with dopamine. This is the way that our body tells us what we’re doing is a ‘good thing’ in terms of survival of the human species. When we engage in sexual activity, our brains are also flooded with dopamine, since reproduction is one of our core purposes in life (in evolutionary terms).

Unfortunately, this reward circuitry often backfires in the modern world. In the past, humans were primarily a hunter-gatherer society. To get that hit of dopamine from food, our early ancestors may have had to march dozens of miles across the savannah before they could capture game to eat. Their desire to hunt was driven by a combination of hunger and an unconscious desire to trigger the reward circuitry in their brain. The same applied to gatherers: Each sweet berry that a forager managed to find might trigger a small release of dopamine. Likewise, each time an early human copulated, their brain rewarded them with a hit of dopamine, helping to make sure that we, as humans, would still be around today.

Empty street with benches in autumn

While our brain’s reward circuitry helped humanity survive and flourish in a harsh environment, our modern world has caused problems for many of these systems. Instead of dopamine serving as a reward for behavior that benefitted ourselves (both on an individual and species-level), we can get that same hit of dopamine through many activities that are harmful or detrimental to our health.

Many of us know the dangers of consuming too much fat, sugar or salt. Overconsumption of this trifecta can cause Type II diabetes, high blood pressure, and the many health problems associated with obesity. However, our brains are primed to love foods with these ingredients. For early humans, fruits like berries contained natural sugars, which served as a valuable energy source. This sweet tooth led early humans to forage for hours for these small tastes of sweetness nestled among bushes and trees.
Things have changed. Now, we can now go to the grocery store and buy a two-liter bottle of concentrated sugar water for only a few dollars. A single glass of a soft drink may contain the sugar equivalent of several pounds of berries or natural fruit. The same applies for fat and salt.

While fat and salt are essential for human health, our modern lifestyles allows us to consume these substances in amounts that can leave our arteries riddled with plaque and our heart valves crusted with cholesterol.

Drugs and alcohol hijack this reward circuitry in even more insidious ways. While fat, sugar and salt are now available to us in quantities that are harmful to health, they trigger our reward circuitry in the same way as our early ancestors. Drugs and alcohol, on the other hand, hijack this reward circuitry, causing a massive release of dopamine for little or no effort.

Young girls out at night

Just like a computer hacker gaining illegal access to a network, drugs and alcohol cross the blood-brain barrier to trigger specific clusters of neurons in the brain. The reason that drugs and alcohol feel good is because they activate our reward circuitry for an extended period of time. Instead of this reward circuitry being activated for brief moments throughout the day, drugs and alcohol allow us to open the dopamine floodgates in our brains, triggering euphoria in ways that aren’t naturally possible.

Not all drugs are the same. Some milder drugs, such as nicotine, may only trigger a small release of dopamine in the brain. Very addictive drugs, like methamphetamine and heroin, can trigger a release of dopamine that is greater than anything an individual has experienced in his or her life.

One of the reasons that drugs are so addictive is because our reward systems aren’t designed to be continually activated. When we hijack the reward pathways of our brains with addictive substances, we’re literally rewiring the way we pursue pleasure. Instead of getting enjoyment from a nice meal and a romantic evening with a loved one, addiction unconsciously teaches us that we can get an even better substance from a chemical.

Drug or alcohol addiction isn’t a moral failing, nor does it represent a weakness in character. Addiction is a learned behavior that has embedded itself so deep in our psyche that it can drive every decision we make. When the reward circuitry of the brain has been completely hijacked, an individual suffering from addiction will do whatever he or she can to achieve another cascade of dopamine. Addiction completely rewires an individual’s motivations from healthy ones to malicious ones.

 

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Does Counseling Help with Addiction?

Addiction is not an easy thing to beat. Actually, it can be the most difficult thing you ever have to do. Addiction does not play by the rules like you have to do. Your addiction will lie to you and make you believe that what you are doing is good for you even as it is ruining your life. It does not even matter what it is you are addicted to because no matter what it is, it will be incredibly hard to beat, but it is possible. You can do it. Many people who also thought they could never do it have done it before. You can do it too! Those who have never been addicted to anything think it is easy. Some people may say, “why don’t you just stop?” or “I would never do that” but they have no idea what it is really like unless they have been there.

Does Counseling Help With Addiction

Addiction or Abuse?

Drug addiction and abuse are two of the most common mental health problems in Americans. In fact, there are over 20 million adults in the United States who suffer with one of these addictions. Everyone has heard of drug addiction and abuse, but are they the same thing? According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), the difference is the number of diagnostic criteria the person has. For example, you are addicted if you have at least three of the seven signs of drug addiction. However, the DSM uses the term dependence rather than addiction. These criteria include:

  • Consuming more of the substance
  • Continuing to use the substance even if it causes issues with school, business, personal life
  • Giving up other interests such as social life, job, and daily activities
  • Spending too much time looking for or trying to get the substance
  • Tolerance (needing more and more to get the same effect)
  • Trying to quit using without being able to
  • Withdrawal (varies depending on the drug)
    • Feeling aggravated
    • Anxiety and stress
    • Depression
    • Hallucinations
    • Nausea and vomiting

Substance Abuse

What exactly is substance abuse then? If the person has at least one, but less than three, of the above criteria, that would be considered substance abuse. With abuse, it is more of an occasional type of drug or alcohol use. For instance, those who abuse alcohol may only drink once or twice a month, but when it happens, they do not know when to stop. With addiction, the problem is continuous and the person is always looking for their next drink (or drug).

Hands on wooden heart

What Addiction Really Means

There have been many experts who believe that addicts have addictive behaviors, so when they try to quit, they will most often just trade one addiction for another. For instance, an alcoholic may quit drinking alcohol but start taking another drug or a smoker may trade nicotine for food. In truth, those with addictive personalities typically will have more than one addiction. For example, some who are addicted to gambling are also addicted to alcohol and those addicted to cigarettes will often drink alcohol as well. This issue is not only applicable to illegal or dangerous substances either. People have become addicted to anything from shopping to video games or even food. Anything that a person does repeatedly and becomes a compulsion can become an addiction. In the same way, addictive behaviors are repeating an activity because it makes the addict feel good. It certainly does not have to be a bad thing, like drugs. In fact, some addictions are good. How do you know the difference? A bad addiction takes away from your life and a good addiction adds to your life.

Some Tips That May Help

Once you realize you have an addiction, it is time to talk to a professional and find out if your addiction is good or bad. Then, if necessary, you can find out how to fix the problem. A therapist or counselor can help you decide what you need to work on. You can also use some of these tips to help you figure out the issue:

  • Accept That There Is No Cure: That’s right, there is no magic pill that can cure your addiction. There is no magic addiction fairy who can wave a magic wand and stop those cravings and urges you may be feeling. Addiction is a disease you will have to deal with your entire life. You cannot just say, “I used to be an addict” because you still are and will always be an addict. You are a recovering addict because you still have that little voice inside you telling you that it is okay to drink that beer or use that drug. Addiction is like a dormant cancer cell inside your body that will stay dormant until you feed it.
  • Get it Out of the House: No matter what it is you are addicted to, get it out of your house. Of course, if it is food that you are addicted to, you cannot get rid of all the food. However, you can get rid of those foods that are most tempting for you such as chocolate, pizza, ravioli, and donuts.
  • Have a Support System: It could be your family, friends, co-workers, or even the members of your AA or NA meetings. You need to have someone to call if you are feeling stressed or if you feel like you want to drink/smoke/gamble/etc. Without a support system, it is harder to stay on track. You can do it, but you will be much more successful if you have someone to back you up when you need it.
  • Talk to Your Doctor: Don’t be afraid to tell your doctor what you are doing and ask for some help. Antidepressants such as bupropion (Wellbutrin) and fluoxetine (Prozac) are two that help curb the cravings and take the edge off the anxiety.
  • Write Down the Pros and Cons: Take a few minutes to write down the pros and cons of beating your addiction. For example, you may put your family and your health in the pros column and job loss and relationship troubles in the cons column.

Whatever you decide to do, be sure to let your psychologist know about it because he or she will surely have some tips for you. Your doctor can help you as well, but, the best thing to do is speak to a mental health professional right away. They will help you begin to understand your addiction. The more you understand, the easier it will be to fight and win.

Pensive woman

Could You Be Addicted?

Although you need a professional to answer that question, there are a few things you can ask yourself if you think you may have a problem:

  • Are you missing days or showing up late at work due to using the substance?
  • Are you using the substance while doing things you used to do sober such as hanging out with friends or watching television?
  • Do you find yourself thinking about the substance during the day?
  • Do you go out of your way to find or use the substance?
  • Has using the substance caused any problems with friends or family?
  • Has using the substance caused you to make mistakes at work or school?
  • Have you had any legal problems due to your substance use?

If you answered yes to one or more of these questions, you definitely should talk to a counselor or your physician. No matter what, you need to get treatment before it becomes a bigger problem than you can handle. Sites like BetterHelp can help you find the right person and you do not even have to leave the house. Don’t wait until it causes you serious trouble. You can talk to someone today and start to feel better.


Marie MiguelAbout The Author

Marie Miguel has been a writing and research expert for nearly a decade, covering a variety of health- related topics. Currently, she is contributing to the expansion and growth of a free online mental health resource with BetterHelp.com. With an interest and dedication to addressing stigmas associated with mental health, she continues to specifically target subjects related to anxiety and depression.


 

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