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5 Signs You’re Drinking A Little Too Much

5 Signs You’re Drinking A Little Too Much

A glass of wine with dinner, just one more beer for the road, a misty memory of the evening before. How do you know if the amount you are drinking is starting to get out of control?

Here are the five key signs that you are drinking to excess.

1. I need a drink…

You can’t say no to a drink, you crave alcohol and cannot wait for that 6 o’clock glass of wine or bottle of beer.

There is a point when having a social drink is not enough, you just need to have a drink. What started as a way to relax and put a stressful day behind you is now something you must do to relax.

2. I need to drink more to feel the same buzz…

Just that one drink is no longer enough, you need at least two or three beers to get the same effect or you find you are no longer putting the bottle of wine back in the fridge. As with any addiction you body will build up a tolerance and there is a risk you can slip into alcohol dependency.

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There are different levels of dependence and it may not necessarily involve drinking excessively, you can start with a psychological dependence, the ‘I need a drink’ feeling  or believing ‘I cannot relax without a drink’. Sadly this can all too quickly become a physical dependence where your body will show physical symptoms including shaking, sweating or nausea if you do not have alcohol in your system.

3. I have a drink most days…

Social drinking is perfectly acceptable, but when you find you are drinking most days, you need to consider if you have a problem. The National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism states ‘”men should not exceed 4 drinks per day or a total of 14 per week and women should not exceed 3 drinks a day or a total of 7 per week”. The American Heart Association suggest even lower levels stating that “men should not exceed 2 units/day and women should not to exceed 1 unit/day to stay healthy.”

You need to be particularly careful when you drink at home, a single unit of alcohol is classed as a measure of spirits, half a pint of average strength lager or two-thirds of a 125 ml glass of wine. Outside of the controlled measures of a bar, it is easy to find yourself serving much more than a unit and slip into drinking more than you think you are.

4. I drink alone…

Finding yourself reaching for a drink when you are by yourself could be a sign of a problem. Research has shown that drinking alone can be linked to heavier drinking and a greater risk of addiction.

There is nothing wrong with enjoying a drink at home, but be aware when you find you are regularly drinking when you are alone.

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5. I don’t have a problem with drink… Honestly…

Denial can be a big sign, if you find you cannot admit you are drinking too much. When you hear yourself saying ‘I’m not that bad…’ or ‘I just have a drink or two,’ consider if this really is the truth.

This is where friends or partners can be vital to help you. Admitting you have an issue is a massive step but can be helped by those around you helping you see your drinking is becoming an issue. If your partner or friend is in denial your role in helping them recognise and acknowledge the issue is vital. You can be pivotal in getting them on the road to recovery.

What are the risks of alcohol?

There are many health risks associated with long-term alcohol abuse. These include high blood pressure, risk of stroke, liver disease, fertility problems, impotence and an increased risk of cancer.

To understand the risks of drinking, the following is what will happen to your body as you drink more alcohol:

  • Moderate drinking – 1 – 2 units

You may notice an increase in your heart rate and your blood vessels expand. You will become more sociable and talkative.

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  • 4 – 6 units

The alcohol starts to cause a reaction within your brain, with your judgement and decision making gets affected. You may start to feel more reckless and uninhibited. Your coordination and reaction time are reduced.

  • Heavy Drinking –  8 – 9 units

Your speech begins to slur and you may suffer from blurred vision. The alcohol is unlikely to be out of your body overnight so you will most likely wake with a hangover.

  • Excessive Drinking – 10 – 12 units

Your coordination will be seriously impaired and you are at a serious risk of having an accident. You may feel drowsy and depressed due to large amounts of alcohol in your bloodstream.

Of course, in addition, you need to consider the cost of alcohol and the large numbers of empty calories contained.

How to get back in control…

If you realise you are drinking too much you can take steps to recover, the first stage is to acknowledge you are drinking too much and to be willing to make a change. If you are at an early stage, you can look to reduce your alcohol intake and give your body time to recover.

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Having a break from alcohol can help you greatly. Research by University College London has seen individuals who gave up alcohol for four weeks notice improvements to their liver function, blood pressure and cholesterol levels and were also at lower risk of developing diabetes and liver disease. A break from alcohol can be useful to ‘reset’ your drinking levels and detox. Your body and your wallet will thank you!

However, if you are alcohol dependent, you may find that a sudden reduction may cause withdrawal symptoms including nausea, sweating, a craving for alcohol and shaking. Here it is best to seek professional advice before attempting to cut down on your intake. In this way, you can be advised of a sensible programme to reduce and then eliminate your dependency safely.

Enjoy life, in control

Nobody is denying that a drink with friends or family is a great way to enjoy an evening, or that a glass of wine with a meal is anything but positive. However, it is all about recognising how much is too much and to enjoy yourselves without needing alcohol.

Learn more about drinking in popular culture with the sober drinking game, where you can learn what famous people from William Shakespeare to Dudley Moore said about drinking!

Cheers!

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How to Control Your Thoughts and Become the Master of Your Mind

How to Control Your Thoughts and Become the Master of Your Mind

Your mind is the most powerful tool you have for the creation of good in your life, but if not used correctly, can also be the most destructive force in your life.

Your mind, more specifically, your thoughts, affect your perception and therefore, your interpretation of reality.

I have heard that the average person thinks around 70,000 thoughts a day. That’s a lot, especially if they are unproductive, self-abusive and just a general waste of energy.

You can let your thoughts run amok, but why would you? It is your mind, your thoughts; isn’t it time to take your power back? Isn’t it time to take control?

Choose to be the person who is actively, consciously thinking your thoughts. Become the master of your mind.

When you change your thoughts, you will change your feelings as well, and you will also eliminate the triggers that set off those feelings. Both of these outcomes provide you with a greater level of peace in your mind.

I currently have few thoughts that are not of my own choosing or a response from my reprogramming. I am the master of my mind, so now my mind is quite peaceful. Yours can be too!

Who Is Thinking My Thoughts?

Before you can become the master of your mind, you must recognize that you are currently at the mercy of several unwanted “squatters” living in your mind, and they are in charge of your thoughts. If you want to be the boss of them, you must know who they are and what their motivation is, and then you can take charge and evict them.

Here are four of the “squatters” in your head that create the most unhealthy and unproductive thoughts:

1. The Inner Critic

This is your constant abuser. He is often a conglomeration of:

  • Other people’s words; many times your parents.
  • Thoughts you have created based on your own or other peoples expectations.
  • Comparing yourself to other people, including those in the media.
  • The things you told yourself as a result of painful experiences such as betrayal and rejection. Your interpretation creates your self-doubt and self-blame, which are most likely undeserved in cases of rejection and betrayal.

He is motivated by pain, low self-esteem, lack of self-acceptance and lack of self-love.

Why else would he abuse you? And since “he” is actually you– why else would you abuse yourself? Why would you let anyone treat you this badly?

2. The Worrier

This person lives in the future; in the world of “what ifs.”

He is motivated by fear which is often irrational and with no basis for it.

Occasionally, he is motivated by fear that what happened in the past will happen again.

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3. The Reactor or Trouble-Maker

He is the one that triggers anger, frustration and pain. These triggers stem from unhealed wounds of the past. Any experience that is even closely related to a past wound will set him off.

He can be set off by words or feelings. He can even be set off by sounds and smells.

He has no real motivation; he has poor impulse control and is run by past programming that no longer serves you, if it ever did.

4. The Sleep Depriver

This can be a combination of any number of different squatters including the inner planner, the rehasher, and the ruminator, along with the inner critic and the worrier.

His motivation can be:

  • As a reaction to silence, which he fights against
  • Taking care of the business you neglected during the day
  • Self-doubt, low self-esteem, insecurity and generalized anxiety
  • As listed above for the inner critic and worrier

How can you control these squatters?

How to Master Your Mind

You are the thinker and the observer of your thoughts. You must pay attention to your thoughts so you can identify “who” is running the show; this will determine which technique you will want to use.

Begin each day with the intention of paying attention to your thoughts and catching yourself when you are thinking undesirable thoughts.

There are two ways to control your thoughts:

  • Technique A – Interrupt and replace them
  • Technique B – Eliminate them altogether

This second option is what is known as peace of mind!

The technique of interrupting and replacing is a means of reprogramming your subconscious mind. Eventually, the replacement thoughts will become the “go to” thoughts in the applicable situations.

Use Technique A with the Inner Critic and Worrier and Technique B with the Reactor and Sleep Depriver.

For the Inner Critic

When you catch yourself thinking something negative about yourself (calling yourself names, disrespecting yourself, or berating yourself), interrupt it.

You can yell (in your mind), “Stop! No!” or, “Enough! I’m in control now.” Then, whatever your negative thought was about yourself, replace it with an opposite or counter thought or an affirmation that begins with “I am.”

For example, if your thought is, “I’m such a loser,” you can replace it with, “I am a Divine Creation of the Universal Spirit. I am a perfect spiritual being learning to master the human experience. I am a being of energy, light, and matter. I am magnificent, brilliant, and beautiful. I love and approve of myself just as I am.”

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You can also have a dialogue with yourself with the intention of discrediting the ‘voice’ that created the thought, if you know whose voice it is:

“Just because so-and-so said I was a loser doesn’t make it true. It was his or her opinion, not a statement of fact. Or maybe they were joking and I took it seriously because I’m insecure.”

If you recognize that you have recurring self-critical thoughts, you can write out or pre-plan your counter thoughts or affirmation so you can be ready. This is the first squatter you should evict, forcefully, if necessary:

  • He riles up the Worrier.
  • The names you call yourself become triggers when called those names by others, so he also maintains the presence of the Reactor.
  • He is often present when you try to fall asleep so he perpetuates the Sleep Depriver.
  • He is a bully and is verbally and emotionally abusive.
  • He is the destroyer of self-esteem. He convinces you that you’re not worthy. He’s a liar! In the interest of your self-worth, get him out!

Eliminate your worst critic and you will also diminish the presence of the other three squatters.

Replace him with your new best friend who supports, encourages, and enhances your life. This is a presence you want in your mind.

For the Worrier

Prolonged anxiety is mentally, emotionally and physically unhealthy. It can have long-term health implications.

Fear initiates the fight or flight response, creates worry in the mind and creates anxiety in the body.

You should be able to recognize a “worry thought” immediately by how you feel. The physiological signs that the fight or flight response of fear has kicked in are:

  • Increased heart rate, blood pressure, or surge of adrenaline
  • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
  • Muscles tense

Use the above stated method to interrupt any thought of worry and then replace it. But this time you will replace your thoughts of worry with thoughts of gratitude for the outcome you wish for.

If you believe in a higher power, this is the time to engage with it. Here is an example:

Instead of worrying about my loved ones traveling in bad weather, I say the following (I call it a prayer):

“Thank you great spirit for watching over _______. Thank you for watching over his/her car and keeping it safe, road-worthy, and free of maintenance issues without warning. Thank you for surrounding him/her with only safe, conscientious, and alert drivers. And thank you for keeping him/her safe, conscientious, and alert.”

Smile when you think about it or say it aloud, and phrase it in the present tense; both of these will help you feel it and possibly even start to believe it.

If you can visualize what you are praying for, the visualization will enhance the feeling so you will increase the impact in your vibrational field.

Now take a calming breath, slowly in through your nose, and slowly out through the mouth. Take as many as you like!

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Replacing fearful thoughts with gratitude will decrease reactionary behavior, taking the steam out of the Reactor.

For example:

If your child gets lost in the mall, the typical parental reaction that follows the fearful thoughts when finding them is to yell at them.

“I told you never to leave my sight.” This reaction just adds to the child’s fear level from being lost in the first place. Plus, it also teaches them that mom and/or dad will get mad when he or she makes a mistake, which may make them lie to you or not tell you things in the future.

Change those fearful thoughts when they happen:

“Thank You (your choice of Higher Power) for watching over my child and keeping him safe. Thank you for helping me find him soon.”

Then, when you see your child after this thought process, your only reaction will be gratitude, and that seems like a better alternative for all people involved.

For the Trouble-Maker, Reactor or Over-Reactor

Permanently eliminating this squatter will take a bit more attention and reflection after the fact to identify and heal the causes of the triggers; but until then, you can prevent the Reactor from getting out of control by initiating conscious breathing as soon as you recognize his presence.

The Reactor’s thoughts or feelings activate the fight or flight response just like with the Worrier. The physiological signs of his presence will be the same. With a little attention, you should be able to tell the difference between anxiety, anger, frustration, or pain:

  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure; surge of adrenaline
  • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
  • Muscles tension

I’m sure you’ve heard the suggestion to count to ten when you get angry—well, you can make those ten seconds much more productive if you are breathing consciously during that time.

Conscious breathing is as simple as it sounds; just be conscious of your breathing. Pay attention to the air going in and coming out.

Breathe in through your nose:

  • Feel the air entering your nostrils.
  • Feel your lungs filling and expanding.
  • Focus on your belly rising.

Breathe out through your nose:

  • Feel your lungs emptying.
  • Focus on your belly falling.
  • Feel the air exiting your nostrils.

Do this for as long as you like. Leave the situation if you want. This gives the adrenaline time to normalize.

Now you can address the situation with a calmer, more rational perspective and avoid damaging behavior.

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One of the troubles this squatter causes is that it adds to the sleep depriver’s issues. By evicting, or at least controlling the Reactor, you will decrease reactionary behavior, which will decrease the need for the rehashing and ruminating that may keep you from falling asleep.

Master your mind and stop the Reactor from bringing stress to you and your relationships!

For the Sleep Depriver

(He’s made up of the Inner Planner, the Rehasher and the Ruminator, along with the Inner Critic and the Worrier.)

I was plagued with a very common problem: not being able to turn off my mind at bedtime. This inability prevented me from falling asleep and thus, getting a restful and restorative night’s sleep.

Here’s how I mastered my mind and evicted the Sleep Depriver and all his cronies.

  1. I started by focusing on my breathing—paying attention to the rise and fall of my belly—but that didn’t keep the thoughts out for long. (Actually, I now start with checking my at-rest mouth position to keep me from clenching.)
  2. Then I came up with replacement strategy that eliminated uncontrolled thinking—imagining the word in while breathing in and thinking the word out when breathing out. I would (and do) elongate the word to match the length of my breath.

When I catch myself thinking, I shift back to in, out. With this technique, I am still thinking, sort of, but the wheels are no longer spinning out of control. I am in control of my mind and I choose quiet.

From the first time I tried this method I started to yawn after only a few cycles and am usually asleep within ten minutes.

For really difficult nights, I add an increase of attention by holding my eyes in a looking-up position (Closed, of course!). Sometimes I try to look toward my third eye but that really hurts my eyes.

If you have trouble falling asleep because you can’t shut off your mind, I strongly recommend you try this technique. I still use it every night. You can start sleeping better tonight!

You can also use this technique any time you want to:

  • Fall back to sleep if you wake up too soon.
  • Shut down your thinking.
  • Calm your feelings.
  • Simply focus on the present moment. 

Becoming the Master of Your Mind

Your mind is a tool, and like any other tool, it can be used for constructive purposes or for destructive purposes.

You can allow your mind to be occupied by unwanted, undesirable and destructive tenants, or you can choose desirable tenants like peace, gratitude, compassion, love, and joy.

Your mind can become your best friend, your biggest supporter, and someone you can count on to be there and encourage you. The choice is yours!

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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