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2 Things You Must Do If You Love Someone Suffering From Addiction

2 Things You Must Do If You Love Someone Suffering From Addiction

If you have a loved one going through addiction recovery, it can be difficult on your emotions. Drugs aren’t the only things people can get addicted to – and you know this first hand. People can suffer from video game, pornography, sex, gambling, and other legal pleasures. The American Society of Addiction Medicine says that addiction is when you become dependent on a substance or behavior so badly that it disrupts your daily life and relationships with other people. You’ve seen how your loved one’s addiction to a substance or behavior has warped his/her sense of self and ambitions – it’s pretty much destroying his/her life.

Ironically, it’s more heartbreaking when your loved one is trying to recover from addiction – that’s when you see him/her suffer the most as he/she goes through withdrawal symptoms. The good news is there are things you can do that are proven to ease your loved one’s journey into healing and beating his/her addiction.

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1. Make a Vow to Remind Him/Her He/She is Precious Every Single Day

Addiction makes someone feel powerless, like they’re a slave to their addiction. They also feel worthless because of their perceived weakness to overcome their battle with what they’re addicted to. What makes it worse is the stigma your loved one has to carry that addicts are criminals without self-control who don’t deserve sympathy.

You, and any licensed medical professional know better – addiction is a disease and not the fault of the patient. Drug detox programs often try to educate loved ones that addiction patients deserve help and support because they’re not in control anymore – their addiction has biochemically hardwired their brains to force them into the seemingly inescapable cycle of dependency.

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That’s why it’s important to empower your loved one and remind him/her he/she is special and priceless to you and so many others. Everyday strengthen his/her fighting spirit by letting him/her know who he/she is, that he/she can beat his/her addiction, that he/she means the world to you.

Make a vow: For every day your loved one fights his/her addiction, you say to him/her: “You’re precious to me and life wouldn’t be the same without you. I want the old you back. You can beat this because you’re the most powerful person I know to fight something like this.”

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2. Cook All His/Her Meals

Psychologists now say that what you eat affects your mental health.[1] Psychologist, Emily Deans, M.D. says that eating fast food, junk food, and a typical Western high-sugar, high-fat diet shrinks your hippocampus, which is the part of your brain that helps prevent depression and dementia. Studies also show that people who eat a wholesome nutritious diet have a lower risk of depression.

Addiction preys on depression, and being depressed can make addiction recovery multiple times harder for your loved one. In fact, depression is both a hallmark symptom of addiction and withdrawal. You can help fight your loved one’s depression by making sure he/she only eats home-cooked, wholesome meals. Preventing him/her from eating junk food means you’ll help his/her hippocampus fight his/her depression by nurturing it with nutritious food.

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Bulgarian professor, Hristo Mermerski, who’s famous for inventing a recipe that’s enjoyed success in putting cancer patients in remission, advises to enrich your daily meals with omega-3 fatty acids for a healthy lifestyle and overall better mental health. He says that omega-3 fatty acids have been found to play a major role in brain biochemistry.

You don’t have to stand by and watch as your loved one suffers through withdrawal. Be proactive and fight with him/her by doing these two things! If you do these as steadfastly as your loved one fights to recover, you’ll boost his/her chances of recovery significantly.

Featured photo credit: skeeze via pixabay.com

Reference

[1] Psychology Today: Does a Wester Diet Shrink the Brain?

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Published on July 7, 2020

Brain Training: 12 Fast, Fun Mental Workouts

Brain Training: 12 Fast, Fun Mental Workouts

Exercise isn’t just for your body. Just as important is keeping your mind strong by training your brain with fun mental workouts.

Think of your mental and physical fitness the same way: you don’t need to be an Olympian, but you do need to stay in shape if you want to live well. A few cognitive workouts per week can make a major difference in your life.

The Skinny on Mental Workouts

Physical fitness boosts your stamina and increases your muscular strength. The benefits of working up a mental sweat and brain training, however, might not be so obvious.

Research suggests that cognitive training has short- and long-term benefits, including:

1. Improved Memory

After eight weeks of cognitive training, 19 arithmetic students showed a larger and more active hippocampus than their peers.[1] The hippocampus is associated with learning and memory.

2. Reduced Stress Levels

Mastering new tasks more quickly makes the work of learning less stressful. A stronger memory can call information to mind with less effort.

3. Improved Work Performance

Learning quickly and remembering key details can lead to a better career. Employers are increasingly hiring for soft skills, such as trainability and attention to detail.

4. Delayed Cognitive Decline

As we age, we experience cognitive decline. A study published by the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society found that 10 one-hour sessions of cognitive training boosted reasoning and information processing speed in adults between the ages of 65 and 94.[2]

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Just like in physical exercise, what’s important isn’t the specific workout. To be sustainable, cognitive workouts need to be easy and fun. Otherwise, it’s too easy to throw in the towel.

Fun Brain Training Exercises for Everyone

The best about fun mental workouts? There’s no need to head to a gym. Feel free to mix and match the following activities for daily brain training:

1. Brainstorming

One of the simplest, easiest ways to engage your brain? Coming up with solutions to a challenge you’re facing.

If you aren’t good at solo ideation, ask a partner to join you. When I’m struggling to come up with topics to write about, I call up my editors to bat ideas around. Friends or co-workers are usually happy to help.

2. Dancing

Isn’t dancing a physical workout? Yes, but the coordination it requires is also great for training your brain. Plus, it’s a lot of fun.

Studies suggest that dance boosts multiple cognitive skills.[3] Planning, memorizing, organizing, and creativity all seem to benefit from a few fancy steps.

3. Learning a New Language

Learning a new language takes time. But if you split it up into small, daily lessons, it’s easier than you might think.

With language learning, every lesson builds on the last. When I was learning Spanish, I used a tool called Guru for knowledge management.[4] Every time I’d learn a verb tense, I’d create a new card to give me a quick refresh before moving on.

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4. Developing a Hobby

Like languages, hobbies take time to develop. But that’s the fun of them: you get a little better—both at the hobby and in terms of brain function—each time you do them.

If you’re trying to train your brain and improve a certain cognitive skill, choose a hobby that aligns with it.

For example:

  • Attention to detail: Pick a hobby that requires you to work patiently with small features. Woodworking, model-building, sketching, and painting are all good choices.
  • Learning and memory: Choose an activity that requires you to remember lots of details. Your best bets are hobbies that require lots of categorization, such as collecting stamps or coins.
  • Motor function: For this brain function, physical activities can double as fun mental workouts. Sports like soccer and basketball build gross motor functions. Fine motor functions are better trained through activities like table tennis or even playing video games.
  • Problem-solving: Most hobbies require you to problem-solve in one way or another. The ones that test your problem-solving skills the most, however, take some investigation.

Geocaching is a good example: Using a combination of clues and GPS readings, geocaching involves finding and re-hiding containers. Typically done in a wooded area, geocaching is a fun way to put your problem-solving skills to the test.

5. Board Games

Playing a board game might not be much of a physical workout, but it does make for a fun mental workout. With that said, not all board games work equally well for cognitive training.

Avoid “no brainer” board games, like Candy Land. Opt for strategy-focused ones, such as Risk or Settlers of Catan. Remember to ask other players for their input.

6. Card Games

Card games build cognitive skills in much the same way board games do. They have a few extra advantages, though, that make them worthy of special attention.

A deck of cards is inexpensive and can be played anywhere, from a kitchen to an airplane. More importantly, a deck of cards opens the door to dozens of different games. Challenge yourself to learn a few in an afternoon.

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7. Puzzles

Puzzles are great tools for building a specific cognitive skill: visuospatial function. Visuospatial function is important to train because it’s one of the first abilities to slip in people struggling with cognitive diseases like Alzheimer’s.[5]

Choose a puzzle you’ll stick with. There’s no shame in starting with a 500-piece puzzle or choosing one that makes a childish image.

8. Playing Music

Listening to music is a great way to unwind. But playing music goes one step further. On top of entertaining you, it makes for a fun mental workout.

Again, choose an instrument you know you’ll stick with. If you’ve always wanted to learn the violin, don’t get a guitar because it’s less expensive or easier to pick up.

What if you can’t afford an instrument? Sing. Learning to control your voice is every bit as challenging as making a set of keys or strings sound good.

9. Meditating

Not all cognitive exercises are loud, in-your-face activities. Some of the most fun mental workouts, in fact, are quiet, solo activities. Meditating can help you focus, especially if you have pre-existing attention issues.

Don’t be intimidated if you’ve never meditated before. It’s easy:

  • Find a quiet, comfortable place to sit or lie down.
  • Set a timer for 10 minutes, or for however long you have to meditate.
  • Close your eyes or turn off the lights.
  • Focus on your breathing. Do not try to control it.
  • If your thoughts wander, gently bring them back to your breath.
  • When the timer goes off, wiggle your fingers and toes for a minute. Slowly bring yourself back to reality. Remember the sense of serenity you found.

10. Deep Conversation

There’s nothing more mentally stimulating than a good, long conversation. The key is depth: surface-level chatter doesn’t get the mind’s wheels spinning like a thoughtful, authentic conversation. This type of conversation helps in training your brain to think more deeply and reflect.

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Choose your partner carefully. You’re looking for someone who’ll challenge your ideas without being confrontational. Stress isn’t good for brain health, but there’s value in coming up with creative arguments.

11. Cooking

When you think about it, cooking requires an impressive array of cognitive skills. Developing a cook’s intuition requires a good memory. Making sure flavors are balanced takes attention to detail. When something goes wrong in the kitchen, problem-solving skills come into play. Motor control is required to stir, flip, and whisk.

If you’re going to cook, you might as well make enough for everyone. Invite them into the kitchen as well: coordinating with other chefs adds an extra layer of challenge to this fun mental workout.

12. Mentorship

Whether you’re the mentee or the mentor, mentorship is an incredible mental workout. Learning from someone you look up to combines the benefits of deep conversation with skill-building. Teaching someone else forces you to put yourself in their shoes, which requires empathy and problem-solving skills.

Put yourself in both situations. Being a student makes you a better teacher, and teaching others gives you insight into how you, yourself, learn.

Final Thoughts

Your mind is your most important possession, and training your brain is needed to maintain its health. Don’t let it get soft.

To keep those neurons firing at full speed, add a few fun mental workouts to your schedule. And if you’re still struggling to get your brain in gear, remember: there’s an app for that.

More Tips for Training Your Brain

Featured photo credit: Kelly Sikkema via unsplash.com

Reference

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