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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 March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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