Imagine this scenario… It’s been a long day, perhaps your boss yelled at you, someone cut you off in traffic, or you had a big fight with your partner. The only thought crossing your mind is “I can’t wait to get home so I can….” What does the “insert thing that will make it all disappear temporarily” look like for you? Is it a glass of wine? Is it food? Is it binge watching television shows? Is it going to the gym and over-exercising?
While your behaviors may not resemble the over 700,000 Americans who seek treatment for alcohol or drug abuse on any given day, you may still be self-medicating your feelings in unhealthy ways.
Our culture hasn’t evolved to tolerate the stresses of the way we live, so self-medicating with any number of things has become the new norm. Whether it’s alcohol, drugs, food, shopping, exercise, gambling, sex, or Netflix, the addictive and compulsive behaviors damage our ability to feel all our feelings and to cope without numbing out. At first, these behaviors just feel like part of the human condition. It’s easy to convince ourselves that just one drink will take the edge off or that you’ll just run 10 minutes extra to work off that candy bar.
Being part of the Ancestral Health journey means truly connecting with who we are as humans. That means learning healthier behaviors to replace the desire to self-medicate. When we designed 6 Weeks to Evolved Recovery, it was with the sole purpose of teaching people to stop replacing one addiction with another. In our online course, we use several methods to help people achieve new behavior patterns. We want to share two of our favorite practices with you.
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In our go, go, go world, we rarely stop to smell the flowers. For our hunter-gatherer ancestors, awareness equaled survival. Multi-tasking is now something to brag about being good at, despite the scientific research proving that it destroys our ability to focus. Awareness is key to recognizing addictive behaviors and making healthier choices.
You don’t have to spend thousands of dollars or move to an ashram to learn mindfulness. Watch your life change by simply improving your attention with any or all of these practices:
- Spend time in nature every day
- Turn off technology and connect with yourself
- Be aware of your experience without reaction
- Use your senses to describe your experience
- Become one with your experience
- Don’t judge your experience
- Do one thing at a time
- Don’t get stuck in feelings. Remember that thoughts are just thoughts- no action required
- Practice acceptance…acknowledging what is, seeing things for what they are
Sometimes the best things in life are easy! Walking is by far the most underrated and under-utilized form of exercise. We all know how to walk- no instructions needed. Walking reduces stress, and when you reduce stress, life becomes easier. With reduced stress, you can concentrate on the important things and are less likely to self-medicate.
Walking in the sun also helps regulate your circadian rhythm, which means you’ll get better sleep at night. Better sleep equals less stress, which equals better mindset and the ability to make decisions away from the addiction cycle.
Perhaps the best thing about walking is that it’s FREE! We recommend walking 30-60 minutes a day, but if that isn’t a manageable goal, try for 10 or 15 minutes early in the morning or during your lunch break.
To learn more about breaking addictive behavior patterns in your life, check out the
Evolved Recovery is a rapidly growing concept offering a holistic approach to living sober created by Susan McCauley BS, NC and Kendall Kendrick NTP. As nutrition coaches and recovering alcoholics and addicts, Susan and Kendall recognized the value that living a healthy, balanced life made in their personal recovery.