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4 Addictions that are Ruining Lives, and How to Overcome Them

4 Addictions that are Ruining Lives, and How to Overcome Them

Addictions do not appear out of nowhere, we create them acting on our free will and it takes time before they take root in our body. Unfortunately, addictions have negative impact on our health, mood, lifestyle, and they tend to control us to some degree. There are many reasons why we get addicted in the first place: peer pressure, a bad period in our lives, boredom, curiosity etc.

However, we should always strive to improve, and breaking a bad habit is a huge step in terms of self-improvement. So, here are the four most common addictions that ruin lives, and some suggestions on how to overcome them.

1. Alcohol addiction

As we grow up, we become drawn to liquor, since it is advertised to us on so many levels. First of all it is forbidden, so when we enter the rebellious phase of our life, we try to establish our own identities by breaking the rules. Second, if our parents love to drink we tend to mimic this behavior. We are puzzled by the fact that alcohol is forbidden to us, yet they seem to have a really good time while drinking.

Third, every teenage TV show includes scenes with booze, so we are really tempted to give it a try at some point. Of course, you won’t become an addict if you drink once a week with your friends, or only during special occasions, but if you develop alcohol addiction there are a lot of dire consequences.

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Alcoholism is incredibly destructive. It’s not only bad for one’s health, but it breaks families, causes people to lose their jobs, and it can cause various accidents when people drive intoxicated. It is imperative that anyone with alcohol addiction take the steps necessary to overcome it. In order to be successful at this attempt, you need a plan.

So, compile a list of all the positive stuff that will happen to you after you quit drinking and always keep it neat to use it as a reminder. Create your drinking goals, or strategy for quitting, by setting the limits of how many glasses you are allowed to drink during the week.

Find a hobby that will help you channel your frustration. You can immerse yourself in an online video game, or start reading books, basically anything that keeps your mind fully occupied, but doesn’t stimulate it to think about alcohol.

2. Tobacco addiction

Unlike alcoholism, addiction to cigarettes is not that destructive. It is extremely harmful for your health and good looks, but it certainly won’t make you behave irrationally. Still, smokers tend to have a lot of stress going through life, constantly coughing, having damaged lungs, their teeth and fingers have different color, they become older at a faster pace etc.

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It is never easy to quit, since smokers tend to increase the number of cigarettes they smoke on a daily basis, as the addiction grows stronger, meaning that the longer you smoke, the harder it will be to quit. Luckily, many people were able to quit or significantly reduce their cigarette intake. Much like with alcoholism you need a good strategy. It’s best to go at it slowly and gradually reduce your nicotine intake over the course of a month, until you can finally quit altogether.

One of the main motivators here is usually money, since the moment you stop spending cash on cigarettes, you’ll notice a significant spike in your budget. You should also try to engage in some form of cardio exercise, as exhausting your body and muscles makes them crave more oxygen, so the need to light up a cigarette is strongly reduced during and after workout, plus you’ll get sleepy and you can’t smoke while sleeping.

It would also be wise to avoid areas where smoking isn’t prohibited, because even smell and seeing someone with a cigar will incite the need for you to smoke. Finally, you can use the same tactic as mentioned above, find a hobby that will occupy your thoughts, and set a limit for how many cigarettes you are allowed to smoke on a daily basis, if you can’t quit cold turkey.

3. Food addiction

Unlike the previous two addictions, food is a necessity and because we do not have enough time on our hands, we tend to eat out rather than prepare our own meals. Since we eat junk food all the time, we became more and more addicted to it.

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Fizzy drinks and sweets are also incredibly addictive substances, due to their high sugar content that causes our bodies to release feel-good hormones. It’s easy to start eating snacks whenever you need a quick boost of happiness, and that leads to unhealthy eating habits. These addictions lead to obesity, and obesity leads to depression, which again makes you eat the same food that got you into that mess. In a way it creates a perpetual cycle, and it is really bad for both your health and self-confidence.

The best way to break from this addiction is to exercise and work on your figure. If you are fully invested, and if you manage to get positive results, you will be fully motivated to continue. First you’ll need a healthy diet, since you are less likely to eat sweets and fast food if you are not hungry. Second, you’ll need a good program for exercise. If you’re not much of a runner and don’t want to hit the gym, there are great yoga poses designed to reduce belly fat, as well as body weight exercise programs that you can do at home without any special equipment.

That being said, it’s best to have a personal trainer, someone to monitor your workouts, keep you motivated, and prevent you from getting hurt. The hardest part is going to be that you’ll have to eat less, so until your stomach adjusts to the new regime, you are going to be really stressed out and hungry. To sum up, if you work on your looks and realize how much good dieting and working out has done for you, there is a good chance you won’t let it go to waste by falling back into old habits.

4. Drug addiction

This one is probably the worst of all the addictions, since it is both illegal and highly destructive. It also creates the worst kind of dependence, so it’s quite difficult to escape it. Very often, when trying to break from this addiction people choose a lesser evil, i.e. they get addicted to something else, like alcohol.

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This is usually done to help people deal with the shock that occurs as a result of withdrawal. Clearly, it is not an efficient way to tackle the issue, but it will at least create problems that are, for the most part, legal. It’s important to know that if you want to break free from drug addiction, you need to have a strong resolve and desire to change – doing it because you made a promise to someone else usually doesn’t work out. You will also need a lot of support and good friends who will keep you motivated.

Another thing to remember is that there is no universal treatment for drug addiction – the treatment needs to be customized to fit your needs. Because drug abuse is something that occurs as a result of a deeper underlying problem, you’ll need to treat the cause of your addiction at the same time. When you have an efficient treatment program it’s imperative that you stay committed to it and even seek out professional help.

Addictions can be truly sinister, and unless we start to perceive them as a problem, we will never make an effort to stop. The best way to deal with any addiction is determination to prove to yourself and everyone around you that you are strong enough.

Do not try to find justification, or excuses to give in to the internal pressure. The moment you do that, call it what it truly is. It is your weakness and inability to efficiently deal with problems, and if you do not want to be that kind of person, then do not give in.

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Published on November 14, 2018

Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

With our busy, always on lives, it seems that more and more of us are facing constant tiredness and fatigue on a regular basis.

For many people, they just take this in their stride as part of modern life, but for others the impact can be crippling and can have a serious effect on their sense of wellbeing, health and productivity.

In this article, I’ll share some of the most common causes of constant tiredness and fatigue and give you some guidance and action steps you can take to overcome some of the symptoms of fatigue.

Why Am I Feeling Fatigued?

Fatigue is extreme tiredness resulting from mental or physical exertion or illness.  It is a reduction in the efficiency of a muscle or organ after prolonged activity.[1]

It can affect anyone, and most adults will experience fatigue at some point in their life. 

For many people, fatigue is caused by a combination of lifestyle, social, psychological and general wellbeing issues rather than an underlying medical condition.

Although fatigue is sometimes described as tiredness, it is different to just feeling tired or sleepy. Everyone feels tired at some point, but this is usually resolved with a nap or a few nights of good sleep. Someone who is sleepy may also feel temporarily refreshed after exercising. If you are getting enough sleep, good nutrition and exercising regularly but still find it hard to perform, concentrate or be motivated at your normal levels, you may be experiencing a level of fatigue that needs further investigation. 

Symptoms of Fatigue

Fatigue can cause a vast range of physical, mental and emotional symptoms including:

  • chronic tiredness, exhaustion or sleepiness
  • mental blocks
  • lack of motivation
  • headache
  • dizziness
  • muscle weakness
  • slowed reflexes and responses
  • impaired decision-making and judgement
  • moodiness, such as irritability
  • impaired hand-to-eye coordination
  • reduced immune system function
  • blurry vision
  • short-term memory problems
  • poor concentration
  • reduced ability to pay attention to the situation at hand

Causes of Fatigue

The wide range of causes that can trigger fatigue include:

  • Medical causes: Constant exhaustion, tiredness and fatigue may be a sign of an underlying illness, such as a thyroid disorder, heart disease, anemia or diabetes.
  • Lifestyle-related causes: Being overweight and a lack of regular exercise can lead to feelings of fatigue.  Lack of sleep and overcommitting can also create feelings of excessive tiredness and fatigue.
  • Workplace-related causes: Workplace and financial stress in a variety of forms can lead to feelings of fatigue.
  • Emotional concerns and stress: Fatigue is a common symptom of mental health problems, such as depression and grief, and may be accompanied by other signs and symptoms, including irritability and lack of motivation.

Fatigue can also be caused by a number of factors working in combination.

Medical Causes of Fatigue

If you have made lifestyle changes to increase your energy and still feel exhausted and fatigued, it may be time to seek guidance from your doctor.

Here are a few examples of illnesses that can cause ongoing fatigue. Seek medical advice if you suspect you have a health problem:

Anemia

Anemia is a condition in which you don’t have enough healthy red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen to the body’s tissues. It is a common cause of fatigue in women.

Having anemia may make you feel tired and weak.

There are many forms of anemia, each with its own cause. Anemia can be temporary or long term, and it can range from mild to severe.[2]

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a condition that can cause persistent, unexplained fatigue that interferes with daily activities for more than six months.

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This is a chronic condition with no one-size-fits-all treatment, but lifestyle changes can often help ease some symptoms of fatigue.[3]

Diabetes

Diabetes can cause fatigue with either high or low blood sugars. When your sugars are high, they remain in the bloodstream instead of being used for energy, which makes you feel fatigued. Low blood sugar (glucose) means you may not have enough fuel for energy, also causing fatigue.[4]

Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder where sufferers briefly stop breathing for short periods during sleep. Most people are not aware this is happening, but it can cause loud snoring, and daytime fatigue.

Being overweight, smoking, and drinking alcohol can all worsen the symptoms of sleep apnea.[5]

Thyroid disease

An underactive thyroid gland means you have too little thyroid hormone (thyroxine) in your body. This makes you feel tired and you could also put on weight and have aching muscles and dry skin.[6]

Common lifestyle factors that can cause fatigue include:

  • Lack of sleep
  • Too much sleep 
  • Alcohol and drugs 
  • Sleep disturbances 
  • Lack of regular exercise and sedentary behaviour 
  • Poor diet 

Common workplace issues that can cause fatigue include:

  • Shift work: Our body is designed to sleep during the night. A shift worker may confuse their circadian clock by working when their body is programmed to be asleep.
  • Poor workplace practices: This may include long work hours, hard physical labour, irregular working hours (such as rotating shifts), a stressful work environment, boredom or working alone. 
  • Workplace stress – This can be caused by a wide range of factors including job dissatisfaction, heavy workload, conflicts with bosses or colleagues, bullying, or threats to job security.
  • Burnout: This could be striving too hard on one area of your life while neglecting others, which leads to a life that feels out of balance.

Psychological Causes of Fatigue

Psychological factors are present in many cases of extreme tiredness and fatigue.  These may include:

  • Depression: Depression is characterised by severe and prolonged feelings of sadness, dejection and hopelessness. People who are depressed commonly experience chronic fatigue.
  • Anxiety and stress: Someone who is constantly anxious or stressed keeps their body in overdrive. The constant flooding of adrenaline exhausts the body, and fatigue sets in.
  • Grief: Losing a loved one causes a wide range of emotions including shock, guilt, depression, despair and loneliness.

How to Tackle Constant Fatigue

Here are 12 ways you can start tackling the causes of fatigue and start feeling more energetic.

1. Tell The Truth

Some people can numb themselves to the fact that they are overtired or fatigued all the time. In the long run, this won’t help you.

To give you the best chance to overcome or eliminate fatigue, you must diagnose and tell the truth about the things that are draining your energy, making you tired or causing constant fatigue.

Once you’re honest with yourself about the activities you’re doing in your life that you find irritating, energy-draining, and make you tired on a regular basis you can make a commitment to stop doing them.

The help that you need to overcome fatigue is available to you, but not until you tell the truth about it. The first person you have to sell on getting rid of the causes of fatigue is yourself.

One starting point is to diagnose the symptoms. When you start feeling stressed, overtired or just not operating at your normal energy levels make a note of:

  • How you feel
  • What time of day it is
  • What may have contributed to your fatigue
  • How your mind and body reacts

This analysis may help you identify, understand and then eliminate very specific causes.

2. Reduce Your Commitments

When we have too many things on our plate personally and professionally, we can feel overstretched, causing physical and mental fatigue.

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If you have committed to things you really don’t want to do, this causes irritability and low emotional engagement. Stack these up throughout your day and week, then your stress levels will rise.

When these commitments have deadlines associated with them, you may be trying to cram in far too much in a short period of time.  This creates more stress and can affect your decision making ability.

Start being realistic about how much you can get done. Either reduce the commitments you have or give yourself more time to complete them in.

3. Get Clear On Your Priorities

If working on your list of to-do’s or goals becomes too overwhelming, start reducing and prioritizing the things that matter most.

Start with prioritizing just 3 things every day. When you complete those 3 things, you’ll get a rush of energy and your confidence will grow.

If you’re trying to juggle too many things and are multi-tasking, your energy levels will drop and you’ll struggle to maintain focus.

Unfinished projects can make you self-critical and feel guilty which drops energy levels further, creating inaction.

Make a list of your 3 MIT (Most Important Tasks) for the next day before you go to bed. This will stop you overcommitting and get you excited about what the next day can bring.

4. Express More Gratitude

Gratitude and confidence are heavily linked. Just being thankful for what you have and what you’ve achieved increases confidence and makes you feel more optimistic.

It can help you improve your sense of wellbeing, which can bring on feelings of joy and enthusiasm.

Try starting a gratitude journal or just note down 3 things you’re grateful for every day.

5. Focus On Yourself

Exhaustion and fatigue can arrive by focusing solely on other people’s needs all the time, rather than worrying about and focusing on what you need (and want).

There are work commitments, family commitments, social commitments. You may start with the best intentions, to put in your best performance at work, to be an amazing parent and friend, to simply help others.

But sometimes, we extend ourselves too much and go beyond our personal limits to help others. That’s when constant exhaustion can creep up on us.  Which can make us more fatigued.

We all want to help and do our best for others, but there needs to be some balance. We also need to take some time out just for ourselves to recharge and rejuvenate.

6. Set Aside Rest and Recovery Time

Whether it’s a couple of hours, a day off, a mini-break or a proper holiday, time off is essential to help us recover, recharge and refocus.

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Recovery time helps fend off mental fatigue and allows us to simply kick back and relax.

The key here, though, is to remove ourselves from the daily challenges that bring on tiredness and fatigue. Here’s how.

Can you free yourself up completely from work and personal obligations to just rest and recover?

7. Take a Power Nap

When you’re feeling tired or fatigued and you have the ability to take a quick 20-minute nap, it could make a big difference to your performance for the rest of the day.

Napping can improve learning, memory and boost your energy levels quickly.

This article on the benefit of napping is a useful place to start if you want to learn more: How a 20-Minute Nap at Work Makes You Awake and Productive the Whole Day

8. Take More Exercise

The simple act of introducing some form of physical activity into your day can make a huge difference. It can boost energy levels, make you feel much better about yourself and can help you avoid fatigue.

Find something that fits into your life, be that walking, going to the gym, running or swimming. 

The key is to ensure the exercise is regular and that you are emotionally engaged and committed to stick with it.

You could also walk more which will help clear your head and shift your focus away from stressful thoughts.

9. Get More Quality Sleep

To avoid tiredness, exhaustion and fatigue, getting enough quality sleep matters. 

Your body needs sleep to recharge.  Getting the right amount of sleep every night can improve your health, reduce stress levels and help us improve our memory and learning skills.

My previous article on The Benefits of Sleep You Need to Know will give you some action steps to start improving your sleep. 

10. Improve Your Diet

Heavy or fatty meals can make you feel sluggish and tired, whilst some foods or eating strategies do just the opposite.

Our always on lives have us reaching for sweets or other sugary snacks to give us a burst of energy to keep going. Unfortunately, that boost fades quickly which can leave you feeling depleted and wanting more.

On the other hand, whole grains and healthy unsaturated fats supply the reserves you can draw on throughout the day.

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To keep energy up and steady, it’s a good idea to limit refined sugar and starches.

Eating small meals and healthy snacks every few hours throughout the day provides a steady supply of nutrients to body and brain. It’s also important not to skip breakfast.

Eating a balanced diet helps keep your blood sugar in a normal range and prevents that sluggish feeling when your blood sugar drops.

11. Manage Your Stress Levels

Stress is one of the leading causes of exhaustion and fatigue, and can seriously affect your health.

When you have increased levels of stress at work and at home, it’s easy to feel exhausted all the time. 

Identifying the causes of stress and then tackling the problems should be a priority. 

My article on How to Help Anxiety When Life is Stressing You Out shares 16 strategies you can use to overcome stress.

12. Get Hydrated

Sometimes we can be so busy that we forget to keep ourselves fully hydrated.

Water makes up about 60 percent of your body weight and is essential in maintaining our body’s basic functions.

If we don’t have enough water, it can adversely affect our mental and physical performance, which leads to tiredness and fatigue.

The recommended daily amount is around two litres a day, so to stay well hydrated keep a water bottle with you as much as possible.

The Bottom Line

These 12 tips can help you reduce your tiredness and feeling of fatigue.  Some will work better than others as we are all different, whilst others can be incorporated together in your daily life.

If you’ve tried to make positive changes to reduce fatigue and you still feel tired and exhausted, it may be time to consider making an appointment with your doctor to discuss your condition.

Featured photo credit: Annie Spratt via unsplash.com

Reference

[1]Oxford English Dictionary: Definition of fatigue
[2]NHS Choices: 10 Reasons for feeling tired
[3]Verywellhealth: What is chronic fatigue syndrome
[4]Everyday Health: Why does type 2 diabetes make you feel tired
[5]Mayo Clinic: Sleep apnea
[6]Harvard Health: The lowdown on thyroid slowdown

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