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4 Effects You Didn’t Know Alcohol Had on Your Brain

4 Effects You Didn’t Know Alcohol Had on Your Brain

Depending on how much you drink, alcohol can seem like an easy way to unwind with friends or a terrible substance that leads you to make rash decisions. When you learn about these 4 effects that alcohol has on your brain, the reasons behind your experiences will become more obvious.

Alcohol Suppresses Glutamate

Glutamate is a neurotransmitter that increases brain activity and energy. When you have the proper level of glutamate in your brain, you can think clearly and quickly.

Alcohol suppresses the production of glutamate, leaving your brain in a lurch. Without the right amount of this excitatory neurotransmitter, your brain cannot process information as quickly as it normally does.

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That means slow, sluggish thinking that could lead to poor decision-making, like texting your ex in the middle of the night. This is also the reason its not good to drink and drive. Your reaction time is slower and you are more likely to cause an accident. Anyone who has had a few drinks too many certainly knows what that feels like.

Alcohol Increases GABA

GABA, which stands for gamma-aminobutyric acid, does the opposite of glutamate. GABA tries to keep the brain calm. This balancing act is essential for daily life since your glutamate helps you concentrate at work and GABA helps you relax at the end of the day.

When you drink alcohol, your brain starts to create excess amounts of GABA. That’s why so many people pass out after they’ve had too much to drink.

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Increasing GABA further handicaps your brain, which is already suffering from suppressed glutamate. By slowing the brain’s functions, imbibers can become confused, disoriented, and out of control.

Alcohol Increases Dopamine

If alcohol only slowed the brain down by messing with GABA and glutamate neurotransmitters, far fewer people would abuse it. Instead of feeling happy and enthusiastic, you would probably just feel tired and confused.

Since alcohol also increases dopamine, your brain feels rewarded when you consume a drink. Ideally, dopamine would only reward you when you’ve done something good like exercise or form a new friendship. The neurotransmitter plays a crucial role in those healthy activities, too, but alcohol confuses the system by creating a reward for unhealthy behaviors.

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The increased dopamine is the part that makes people want to drink alcohol. This is also how drugs like cocaine and crystal meth make people feel good. Dopamine is the reason people become addicted to alcohol. It gives them that feel-good sensation and helps them forget about their problems.

Unfortunately, the more that you drink, the more dopamine your brain releases. As you stumble around the room, speaking incomprehensibly, the high levels of dopamine tell your brain that everything is great.

Alcohol Gives the Brain Diminished Returns

Drinking alcohol on occasion might not cause any real harm to the brain, especially if you drink in moderation. Frequent drinkers, however, run into problems as they continue to expect the same positive feelings from alcohol.

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If you’ve been drinking heavily for a few years, your brain’s dopamine production slows. It takes more and more alcohol to create that “feel good” sensation. Once that happens, many people become alcoholics who can’t regain control of their lives without centers for alcohol detox. That’s a frightening way to live.

If you or someone you know cannot stop drinking, that person has probably progressed to the point where his or her brain doesn’t produce adequate dopamine. Consider seeking counseling or rehab to help yourself or that someone you know who has reached this point.

The next time you are out enjoying a few drinks with friends, keep in mind this information. It can help you make better decisions while drinking.

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Last Updated on January 21, 2020

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

Creating a vision for your life might seem like a frivolous, fantastical waste of time, but it’s not: creating a compelling vision of the life you want is actually one of the most effective strategies for achieving the life of your dreams. Perhaps the best way to look at the concept of a life vision is as a compass to help guide you to take the best actions and make the right choices that help propel you toward your best life.

your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have

    Why You Need a Vision

    Experts and life success stories support the idea that with a vision in mind, you are more likely to succeed far beyond what you could otherwise achieve without a clear vision. Think of crafting your life vision as mapping a path to your personal and professional dreams. Life satisfaction and personal happiness are within reach. The harsh reality is that if you don’t develop your own vision, you’ll allow other people and circumstances to direct the course of your life.

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    How to Create Your Life Vision

    Don’t expect a clear and well-defined vision overnight—envisioning your life and determining the course you will follow requires time, and reflection. You need to cultivate vision and perspective, and you also need to apply logic and planning for the practical application of your vision. Your best vision blossoms from your dreams, hopes, and aspirations. It will resonate with your values and ideals, and will generate energy and enthusiasm to help strengthen your commitment to explore the possibilities of your life.

    What Do You Want?

    The question sounds deceptively simple, but it’s often the most difficult to answer. Allowing yourself to explore your deepest desires can be very frightening. You may also not think you have the time to consider something as fanciful as what you want out of life, but it’s important to remind yourself that a life of fulfillment does not usually happen by chance, but by design.

    It’s helpful to ask some thought-provoking questions to help you discover the possibilities of what you want out of life. Consider every aspect of your life, personal and professional, tangible and intangible. Contemplate all the important areas, family and friends, career and success, health and quality of life, spiritual connection and personal growth, and don’t forget about fun and enjoyment.

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    Some tips to guide you:

    • Remember to ask why you want certain things
    • Think about what you want, not on what you don’t want.
    • Give yourself permission to dream.
    • Be creative. Consider ideas that you never thought possible.
    • Focus on your wishes, not what others expect of you.

    Some questions to start your exploration:

    • What really matters to you in life? Not what should matter, what does matter.
    • What would you like to have more of in your life?
    • Set aside money for a moment; what do you want in your career?
    • What are your secret passions and dreams?
    • What would bring more joy and happiness into your life?
    • What do you want your relationships to be like?
    • What qualities would you like to develop?
    • What are your values? What issues do you care about?
    • What are your talents? What’s special about you?
    • What would you most like to accomplish?
    • What would legacy would you like to leave behind?

    It may be helpful to write your thoughts down in a journal or creative vision board if you’re the creative type. Add your own questions, and ask others what they want out of life. Relax and make this exercise fun. You may want to set your answers aside for a while and come back to them later to see if any have changed or if you have anything to add.

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    What Would Your Best Life Look Like?

    Describe your ideal life in detail. Allow yourself to dream and imagine, and create a vivid picture. If you can’t visualize a picture, focus on how your best life would feel. If you find it difficult to envision your life 20 or 30 years from now, start with five years—even a few years into the future will give you a place to start. What you see may surprise you. Set aside preconceived notions. This is your chance to dream and fantasize.

    A few prompts to get you started:

    • What will you have accomplished already?
    • How will you feel about yourself?
    • What kind of people are in your life? How do you feel about them?
    • What does your ideal day look like?
    • Where are you? Where do you live? Think specifics, what city, state, or country, type of community, house or an apartment, style and atmosphere.
    • What would you be doing?
    • Are you with another person, a group of people, or are you by yourself?
    • How are you dressed?
    • What’s your state of mind? Happy or sad? Contented or frustrated?
    • What does your physical body look like? How do you feel about that?
    • Does your best life make you smile and make your heart sing? If it doesn’t, dig deeper, dream bigger.

    It’s important to focus on the result, or at least a way-point in your life. Don’t think about the process for getting there yet—that’s the next stepGive yourself permission to revisit this vision every day, even if only for a few minutes. Keep your vision alive and in the front of your mind.

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    Plan Backwards

    It may sound counter-intuitive to plan backwards rather than forwards, but when you’re planning your life from the end result, it’s often more useful to consider the last step and work your way back to the first. This is actually a valuable and practical strategy for making your vision a reality.

    • What’s the last thing that would’ve had to happen to achieve your best life?
    • What’s the most important choice you would’ve had to make?
    • What would you have needed to learn along the way?
    • What important actions would you have had to take?
    • What beliefs would you have needed to change?
    • What habits or behaviors would you have had to cultivate?
    • What type of support would you have had to enlist?
    • How long will it have taken you to realize your best life?
    • What steps or milestones would you have needed to reach along the way?

    Now it’s time to think about your first step, and the next step after that. Ponder the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. It may seem impossible, but it’s quite achievable if you take it step-by-step.

    It’s important to revisit this vision from time to time. Don’t be surprised if your answers to the questions, your technicolor vision, and the resulting plans change. That can actually be a very good thing; as you change in unforeseeable ways, the best life you envision will change as well. For now, it’s important to use the process, create your vision, and take the first step towards making that vision a reality.

    Featured photo credit: Matt Noble via unsplash.com

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