Cerebra Nootropics wishes you a happy and prosperous new year filled with hope, optimism and the belief that greater things are coming our way.
That may sound like a stretch considering how challenging 2020 was. From the start, the year felt like a roller coaster ride for many of us – except for the fact that it wasn’t fun. Some of you lost a sense of direction from the changed circumstances while others experienced far more serious issues and are facing hardship.
Being forced to stay at home took a toll on the mental health and wellbeing of hundreds of millions of people throughout the world. Hundreds of thousands have lost their businesses and millions are facing poverty. As governments continue to ramp up the fear with more talk about viruses and restrictions, many people are feeling helpless, hopeless and lost.
Your Health Is Your Greatest Weapon
The challenges we have faced this year will only increase in the future. It may seem unfair, but it helps to look at these challenges as a way to get stronger.
Getting flabby, weak and exhausted is not going to make 2021 better. Resolve to get healthier this year so you can withstand the pressure while setting an example for others to do the same.
Everyone needs to get on board with this because all hands are needed to turn this situation around.
Ditch The Destructive Habits First
Too often people turn to destructive habits involving junk food, drugs and alcohol at times like this. From our view as nootropics specialists, that is totally understandable because those things trigger “feel good” chemicals like dopamine.
But guess what happens when you abuse those things? Your internal power to create those “feel good” chemicals goes down.
Let me rephrase that so everyone understands:
Drugs, junk food and alcohol make us feel better today at the expense of tomorrow because it diminished our ability to produce neurochemicals that can make us feel good naturally.
The more of that stuff you do, the worse off you will be. Making “New Year’s Resolutions” is not powerful enough to fend off these destructive habits. Having knowledge about those addictions will give you the power to overcome them so you can break free and reach your highest potential.
Once you break your addictions, you can start the process of cultivating healthy habits while repairing and restoring your system.
Why Destructive Habits Are Addictive
Bad habits like eating processed food, smoking, drinking alcohol and doing drugs might make you feel good temporarily, but eventually these habits take their toll in the long run.
The negative feelings produced are your body telling you that what you’re doing is harmful. It goes way beyond how you feel because harmful habits actually change your genetic expression.
All of us are inherently beautiful with a unique set of genes and expressive characteristics. Toxic substances will alter our repair mechanisms and eventually result in reduced functionality, aging and loss of vitality.
Feeling “bad” about our habits is the collective scream of all our cells complaining about what is happening in the internal environment.
So why do we engage in destructive habits? Why is it so easy to lose control?
Our brain just wants us to feel better
Studies on junk food, drugs like cocaine, smoking and alcohol suggest that dopamine gets produced in large quantities when we consume those things. That’s why parties are so fun – they are usually filled with all these things in addition to music we enjoy, people we like, and more.
It’s no secret that doing one, several, or all of those things at once can add up to a great time. Unfortunately, there is a price to pay when the sun comes up, and that price increases with time.
Dopamine withdrawals make us miserable
That massive uptick in dopamine was made possible through overcharging parts of your brain responsible for creating that neurochemical. And just like with any machine, if you overpower parts of it, it will wear out.
Stopping all the bad habits at once will result in a huge drop of dopamine and the “wearing out” of our dopamine receptors is the long-term withdrawal effect of those habits.
That’s why hardly anyone keeps their New Year’s Resolutions. It’s too much, too soon, for most people.
5 Steps To Break Bad Habits
With all the preceding information in mind, here are some steps you can take to ditch those habits in an intelligent way:
Step 1: Set 3 goals
Every “what” needs a “why”. Stopping bad habits “just because” is not a strong enough reason.
Take out a piece of paper and write your initials in the centre. Around it write at least three goals you want to achieve this year such as great physical health, new relationships, a better job, and more money. Tailor this to you and what your body, mind and spirit need the most. Along with the goals, write emotions you want to feel like “joy”, “happiness”, “pride”, “success”, and so on.
After you are done with this exercise, sit for at least 5 minutes and pretend that it all came true. Picture in your mind the new you with all the things you desire. Note the sensations in your body and sense of accomplishment, relief or happiness that may come with achieving these goals.
Look at the paper each day and do the 5-minute meditation. Refer to it often to remind yourself why you want to change your life. This is the most important step in the process and we will come back to it later.
Step 2: Understand your addictive patterns
As mentioned earlier, bad habits create surges of dopamine. They also unleash a destructive cycle whereby you need to do more of the destructive behaviour to produce the same amount of dopamine. That’s why these habits always get worse over time.
Now consider why your brain wants so much dopamine in the first place. Do you hate your job, have bad relationships, watch violent TV or listen to depressing news all day? Those things create cortisol (a stress hormone) in addition to crushing your spirit.
That’s probably why business executives always grab alcoholic drinks after work – it’s a way to top up their dopamine and feel better. Thankfully, there are healthier ways to increase dopamine (and we’ll get to that later).
Step 3: Make a list of your addictions and drop them one at a time
Most people can’t drop all the bad habits at once. While drug and alcohol rehab facilities try to force people to do this, the relapse rates are high because stopping everything at once doesn’t work for most people. The entire process needs a holistic approach.
While keeping the dopamine mechanism in mind, start by dropping one habit at a time. Some will need to be substituted for others as follows:
- Hard drugs (meth, heroin, cocaine) for softer drugs like marijuana
- Hard liquor (whisky, vodka, rum) for moderate alcoholic beverages like beer and wine
- Conventional cigarettes for vaping
- Coffee for tea
While it may seem counterintuitive to swap out one destructive habit for another, it will probably help you prevent that dopamine crash. We don’t want your dopamine stores to take a dive by stopping the habits 100%. As mentioned earlier, this often results in a relapse.
Once the swaps are made and your neurochemistry balances, you will feel better. Then your capacity to quit will be stronger and you can fully drop the habits one at a time.
Step 4: Cultivate healthier habits to produce dopamine
Addicts of all kinds engage in dopamine-spiking activities because one or more important things were missing from their lives. What’s missing from yours? Here is a list of questions to consider:
- Do you get enough hugs and physical affection?
- Are you in contact with friends and family?
- Do you like your job?
- Do you spend any time in nature?
Consider the list above and then picture a typical street addict. They are not living in a house surrounded by friends, family with a garden and park nearby. Most are in the city, alone and depressed, and drugs may be the only source of dopamine they have.
With that said, here are some natural ways to create dopamine that can work for everyone:
- Working out
- Hanging out with friends
- Spending time in nature
- Learning new skills
- Writing a blog or starting a book
Start substituting the bad habits for healthier ones while keeping dopamine production in mind. The key to making this work is to understand that bad habits provide a sharp spike of dopamine while healthier habits bring it on more gradually.
This will likely be hard for some people, especially those that are indoors all the time with the internet as their sole outlet to the world. That’s ok. Go out for five minutes each day in the morning and work your way up. It will get easier over time.
Also, remember the goal-setting exercise in the first step? You should be doing that meditation for 5 minutes each day and referring back to the feelings and mind-state you created. This will propel you forward and solidify your commitment to creating a new you.
Step 5: Repair body damage
Years of bad habits can take their toll on our health. Some of the consequences include:
- Chronic (adrenal) fatigue
- Heavy metal toxicity
- Loss of skin elasticity
- Muscle weakness
- Fungal (candida) overgrowth
- Poor digestion
- Chronic pain
All of the above contribute to what is called “ageing”. Thankfully you can use some rejuvenating supplements to reverse the damage while you complete all the other steps. These include:
Ashwagandha has been a staple of traditional Indian medicine for hundreds of years. It is prescribed widely all over the world today to treat the symptoms of stress, anxiety, inflammation, infertility and high blood sugar.
Magnesium l-threonate is a patented type of magnesium discovered by researchers at The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). It is reported to boost magnesium brain levels in the brain for regeneration and increased cognitive capabilities.
Lion’s mane mushroom is a traditional supplement associated with Eastern traditions that promotes optimal brain health and repair. Like many mushrooms, it has anti-oxidative properties that will help with detoxification while improving memory and reversing brain aging.
Ginkgo Biloba is a natural supplement that can improve brain health due to its high levels of flavonoids and terpenoids. These are potent antioxidants that can protect you from free radicals that can cause oxidative cell damage.
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