eating disorders in men

Uppers and Downers: Micro-dose Happiness

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Don’t have that drink. See how you feel. Notice you want a brownie. Pause. Check-in with yourself. Are you hungry? Tired? Sad? Lonely?

If we consider all of the drugs we put into our systems we’ve got to examine caffeine and alcohol right along with the antidepressants, vitamins, and any other substances we ingest to get a response from our physical bodies. All this talk of micro-dosing psychedelics and other substances to enhance our experience of life are interesting, but… We’re already doing it with our two favorite addictions: coffee and alcohol. What I learned in my 19-days, so far, of my #SoberOctober challenge, is that dessert (sugar) is also one of my addictions.

Becoming Conscious of Our Addictions

Most of us readily admit we are addicted to coffee. Sure, we can take a month off if we want to, just to prove a point, but… We don’t want to give up the nice rush and buzz that comes from our morning jolt of java. Many people may be using alcohol in the same way as a relaxant or intoxicant. One of the properties we don’t often recognize about alcohol is that it is primarily a depressant. The effect on our system after a few drinks may be one of elation, but it’s also suppressing our emotional and physical systems. Food addictions (mine to sugar, for example) are also important to understand and become conscious of in our quest to live healthier and happier lives.

I’ve done the get-off-coffee challenge a number of times. And as I’ve been writing about recently, alcohol is not a huge passion of mine. Sugar, on the other hand, is my drug, and micro-dose of choice. And as I started my #SoberOctober challenge I added sugar to my challenge as a way to push myself. And boy, I’ve learned a lot about my own addictive behaviors.

Our Cravings Might Be Indicating Some Other Issues

It’s a fairly easy assumption to make about people who frequently drink to excess that they are suppressing something (fear, sadness, loneliness, boredom) in themselves with alcohol. But when I started watching my own body and mind react each time I was offered a dessert, or passed the plastic container of two-bite chocolate brownies, I began to learn a bit about what was “triggering” my desire. For me, it was usually not about my desire for the sweet but my desire to microdose my emotional discomfort. The moments were very subtle. I would not have noticed these fluctuations during the course of any given day had I not been watching my behavior so closely.

We microdose ourselves all the time throughout the day. And as I became more aware of my own twitch-response away from some minor internal discomfort, I began to notice the people around me doing their own micro-dosing dance. Several nights ago, at an outdoor concert, I was standing behind a woman in her late twenties. She was in line ahead of me and was shifting her body from side to side as if she were uncomfortable. It was almost like dancing, but more of a fidget. And every minute or two she would pull out her tiny vaping device and take a hit. Wow. It was the clearest example of how our twitch behaviors become a habit and somewhat unconscious. I was fascinated at how self-absorbed she was. She kept moving between me and the food trailer menu in front of us. I was trying to figure out my order and she kept shifting her body to block my view. Over and over she would shuffle in front of me. Over and over she would hit the vape. Wow.

How was my habit of reaching for a sweet or a treat multiple times a day any different? As I was becoming conscious of my twitch-response to my own internal discomfort (of any kind) I saw how my initial response was to go for a sweet. Feeling a bit sad, perhaps a brownie would make me feel better. Bored, maybe a hard candy.

When Things Get Hard

I’ve been on my #SoberOctober challenge for 23 days and I can say there have been a few difficult moments. I have been able to avoid every single temptation. A few days ago at a party, there were some very tasty brownie bits and some kind of three-layer cookie. I really wanted one. Just one.

In this case, there was no real discomfort going on. Just a desire for something sweet. I was happy. I was at a party full of kids and their parents. All was well. And still, the cookies beckoned.

But for me, it’s the achievement of 100% abstention. I’m going to several parties over the next few days and the sweets are going to be tempting. Even a beer sounds good right now. And my favorite tequila, well, I’ve decided that’s what I’m going to break my fast on in November. Alcohol. Woot.

We’re All On Our Own Journey

I can’t tell you not to drink or eat sugar. I can’t tell you to exercise and sleep more. I mean, I can, but what right do I have to try and edit your life? My advice has not been requested. I’ve learned to keep my unsolicited advice to myself, in most cases. And in the case of my #SoberOctober challenge, I do think it’s a good idea to take a break from your cravings.

Don’t have that drink. See how you feel. Notice you want a brownie. Pause. Check-in with yourself. Are you hungry? Tired? Sad? Lonely?

In my three weeks of no sugar, I have noticed that my moods fluctuate frequently throughout the day. I think we all micro-dose ourselves with sugar, caffeine, and alcohol, as we navigate our little roller coaster minds. My mind says I’m tired and I want a cup of coffee, a coke, or some sugar. My body says I’m stressed and I want a beer or a piny of ice cream.

Often when I listened to what my body was telling me, over the last three weeks, I was able to identify what my mood or physical state in need of alteration or boost was. Mostly for me, it’s exhaustion. Take a nap. And loneliness. Reach out to someone you love. I am blessed to be in a period of confidence and sustained happiness. So, the cravings have been fairly benign and less urgent.

And here comes the holiday season. Let’s watch our micro-dosing together in November and December. I’d love to hear from you about your struggles and victories over bad habits and difficult cravings.

Let’s stay healthy together.


John McElhenney – life coach austin texas
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