Sep 02

Binge Drinking and Depression

Binge Drinking and Depression

When people are feeling depressed many of them view alcohol as a comfort or stress reliever. In the beginning alcohol may even feel like it is making life easier but it is actually concealing a terrible truth. Alcohol can only make depression worse never better. This is because alcohol is known as a depressant. This means that alcohol depresses arousal levels and reduces excitability.  Alcohol can not only worsen symptoms of depression but it can also cause depression in the first place. Alcohol induced depression is very common among people who engage in binge drinking.

What are the different kinds of depression?

  • Minor depression that lasts a few days.
  • Major depression lasts longer than two weeks, and the symptoms can be highly disruptive in the individual’s life. This can be referred to more technically as Dysthymic disorder.
  • Alcohol induced depression.
  • Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that people experience due to the change of season. This condition is most common in those countries where there is a long dark winter.
  • Some women experience postpartum depression after they have a baby. The cause of this will be hormonal changes in the body.
  • A psychotic depression is where people also experience distorted thinking that has a psychotic nature. This is the most serious type of depression because the individual may be a danger to themselves or other people.
  • Those individuals who are dealing with bipolar disorder will have periods where they suffer from the symptoms of depression – this may then be followed by period of mania.

What are the symptoms of depression?

  • They feel drained of energy
  • Inability to sleep at night.
  • Turning to food for comfort. Alternatively the individual may completely lose their interest in food.
  • Problems with forgetfulness.
  • The individual may find it a real struggle to get out of bed in the morning.
  • The activities they once enjoyed no longer feel satisfying.
  • Pessimism about the future.
  • They may feel guilty about things that happened in the past.
  • Body aches and pains that seem to have no obvious cause.
  • Difficulties with concentration.
  • Alcohol and drug abuse. This includes dangerous patterns of consumption such as binge drinking.
  • The individual feels irritable much of the time.
  • The feeling that life lacks any real meaning or purpose.
  • Low self esteem – the person may believe that they deserve to feel the way they do.
  • Thoughts of committing suicide.
  • Feeling disassociated from the world.
  • The individual may feel like there is a barrier between them and other people.
  • They do not feel like socializing. The individual may begin to isolate and avoid other people.
  • A sad nostalgia for the past.

What is binge drinking?

Binge drinking refers to a specific type of drinking that is particularly dangerous. Binge drinking is a type of drinking where the individual deliberately becomes intoxicated by consuming an excessive amount of alcohol in a very short period of time. Bing drinking is usually a pattern of drinking most people only engage in on the weekends but it is still a form of alcohol abuse. Binge drinking is actually the most common form of alcohol abuse. Binge drinking means that the individual is deliberately trying to get drunk and this can cause all sorts of problems and trouble. It is not necessary for people to drink every day in order to suffer consequences from alcohol abuse; binge drinking just on weekends can easily cause consequences. What are the dangers of binge drinking?

  • It can lead to symptoms of depression. It can also exacerbate existent depressive symptoms.
  • Alcohol is damaging to every organ in the body. It is not necessary to be a daily drinker before entering the early stages of alcoholic liver disease.
  • The individual will be more likely to commit crimes or become a victim of crimes when they are intoxicated.
  • It can easily lead on to alcoholism. The vast majority of alcoholics will have started off as binge drinkers.
  • It can lead to alcohol poisoning. Some people have died because their blood alcohol content reached levels that were excessively high.
  • This is the pattern of drinking that is most likely to cause hangovers.
  • Some people will experience blackouts when binge drinking. This means that there will be parts of the evening that they cannot remember.
  • It can mean that people are unable to take care of their family, social, and work commitments the next day.
  • When people are intoxicated they can do things that they later deeply regret.
  • Binge drinking is associated with domestic violence.
  • It is also associated with promiscuous and unsafe sex.
  • People will make irrational and impulsive decisions when they are inebriated.
  • Many people who commit suicide will have been binge drinking beforehand.

Binge drinking and depression

  • There are number of reasons why binge drinking causes depression to get much worse. For instance, as mentioned above alcohol is a depressant. There is also the fact that if the person is already depressed then it means they are binge drinking to run or hid from their condition instead of treat it. This obviously makes things much worse in the long run.
  • A person who is binge drinking often will regret what they did while they were drunk. This means they will have more things that are eating away at them.
  • Binge drinking makes people more impulsive. If the person is already feeling depressed then they may engage in behaviors they might not normally consider doing while sober.
  • Binge drinking will cause the person to have less self-control. This mixed with the fact that they have a reduced decision making capacity makes someone with depression a high risk for suicide.
  • Binge drinking often means that he individual might often have problems with family members and loved ones. This can make depression worse trying to deal with that.
  • Binge drinking will make an individual less capable of handling the symptoms of depression. This is because alcohol is a toxin that harms the body and mind.

When people with depression begin binge drinking they can get caught up in a vicious cycle. The symptoms of their depression make life unbearable and so they binge drink as a type of self-medication. When they do that they will feel better in the moment but the binge drinking is actually making the depression worse as listed above. This means when they sober up now their depression is even worse than it as before and causes the person to want to drink even more. This leads to a cycle of wanting to escape through binge drinking while the binge drinking causes more reasons to want to drink due to the worsening depression.

Aug 23

Diet Pill Addiction

Diet Pill Addiction

Diet pills are any type of “medication” or supplement that is marketed to control or reduce weight. There are numerous diet pills that have been produced and promoted for weight loss but only one is actually approved by the FDA for long term use. Diet pills always claim to achieve weight loss by increasing the metabolism, altering appetite levels, or interrupting the normal rate of absorption when it comes to fat and/or calories. The majority of diet pills can be purchased at pharmacies, over the counter without a prescription. This is especially dangerous because not only are the diet pills not approved by the FDA but they also can be bought by minors. Diet pills usually contain large amounts of addictive substances such as ephedrine, caffeine, or herbal stimulants which can have severe side effects. This is especially true if the individual taking the diet pills develops a diet pill addiction.

A diet pill addiction can develop at any time throughout an individual’s lifetime. This means that all age groups are vulnerable to a diet pill addiction. The statistics about diet pill addiction are helpful in realizing and understanding fully, the fragility of a diet pill addiction and how to improve the treatment of it.

  • A study from the University of Minnesota’s “Project EAT (Eating Among Teens) found that high school-aged females’ use of diet pills nearly doubled from 7.5 to 14.2 percent.  By the ages of 19 and 20, 20 percent of females surveyed used diet pills.
  • Abuse of diet pills by individuals with eating disorders is well-documented clinically, with prevalence estimates reported as high as 50%.
  • According to a study published in Eating Behaviors, individuals with eating disorders associated with vomiting and other purging behaviors are more likely to use diet pills.

What is the cause of a diet pill addiction?

Many things can cause a diet pill addiction. Typically a diet pill addiction begins with the want for a a temporary or quick fix for weight loss. Individuals who use diet pills under a doctor’s care with a prescription may have an actual need for the drug. However, when diet pills are just used recreationally or for non-medical purposes, it becomes a diet pill addiction. Men and women alike, who struggle with body image, even at a normal weight may feel inclined to use diet pills as a method of controlling their weight or losing weight. Body image dysmorphia or the inability to see one’s body clearly can be one of the biggest causes of a diet pill addiction. For example, someone who is suffering from anorexia nervosa is very likely to have a diet pill addiction. Feeling the necessity or want to take diet pills stem from deeper and underlying issues which are all usually connected.

Signs of a diet pill addiction

Certain signs and symptoms will be evident if you or a loved one is suffering with a diet pill addiction.  Diet pill effects can range in severity and can impact a man or woman physically, psychologically, and socially.

  • Chest pain
  • Irregular heart beat
  • Mood swings
  • Nausea
  • Tremors
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Stomach pain
  • Rapid respiratory rate
  • Severe headaches
  • Blurred vision
  • Vomiting
  • Hallucinations
  • Seizures
  • Liver/Kidney damage
  • Chronic mood swings
  • Blackouts
  • Memory loss

Someone with a diet pill addiction may also deal with the side effects physically, psychologically, and socially. For instance, unstable weight, headaches, tightness in chest, heart palpitations, dizziness, stroke, and mood swings, depression, and low self-esteem as well as, increased isolation, difficulty maintaining healthy relationships, and avoidance of social encounters.


Aug 09

How to Beat the Relapse Statistics

How to Beat the Relapse Statistics

The drug and alcohol relapse rehab statistics for relapse are disheartening and discouraging. Drug and alcohol relapse statistics show that the percentage of people who will relapse after a period of recovery ranges from 50 to 90 percent. This is a scary relapse statistic and it is often used as a justification for addicts and alcoholics who don’t want to stop using drugs or drinking. What the relapse statistics don’t tell though is that there are things that an individual can do to greatly increase their chances of long-term recovery. People who are serious about aftercare greatly increase their chances of staying sober.  Aftercare can include everything from a 12 step fellowship, staying in a halfway house and going to groups. This is good news because this means there are ways to beat the relapse statistics. Here are some ways on how to beat the relapse statistics:

Despite the fact that relapse statistics pretty much say that half of all drug addicts and alcoholics are going to relapse there are many people who escape addiction and go on to build a great life. Anyone can beat the relapse statistics by taking some action.

  • Addicts and alcoholics need to prepare to go back home in order to have a good shot at beating the relapse statistics.
  • Willingness to do whatever it takes to stay sober can significantly help addicts and alcoholics to beat the relapse statistics. If people are not fully motivated they will struggle to make it through the early months of recovery.
  • It is vital that newly sober people take their aftercare seriously if they want to beat the relapse statistics. By joining a 12 step group or using some other type of support they will be greatly increasing their chances of success.
  • When people give up an addiction they need to break away from their drinking and drugging buddies. Failure to do this puts the individual’s sobriety at risk and they could fall victim to relapse statistics.
  • Staying sober has to be the priority in the person’s life if they want to beat the relapse statistics. They should not allow anything to come in between them and their sobriety.
  • It is important that people avoid turning to other maladaptive behaviors in recovery such as working a lot, spending, sex etc. This causes many people to become another relapse statistic.
  • Keeping an open mind is a necessary element of a successful recovery. Beginner’s mind means that the individual doesn’t allow their preconceived notions get in the way of trying new things.
  • The idea that relapse is acceptable should never enter the thinking of people who are trying to stay sober. A return to alcohol or drugs is a risk and there is no guarantee that the individual will ever get another chance at a life away from alcohol and drugs. While the relapse statistics are high they aren’t an indicator of how many people make it back and that its ok or normal to relapse.
  • Recovery is to be enjoyed and not endured. If the individual feels like they are serving a prison sentence it is a sign that they are doing something wrong and chances are they will become part of the relapse statistics.


Jul 15

Women in Recovery

Women in Recovery

Here is a fun fact about women in recovery, Marty Mann, NCADD’s founder, was the first woman to recover from alcoholism in Alcoholics Anonymous (AA).  As a result, NCADD has always been dedicated to increasing public awareness and support for women struggling with addiction to alcohol and drugs. 

Women are the fastest-growing segment for substance abuse in the United States. In fact, according to the Federal Center for Substance Abuse Prevention, about 2.7 million women in the United States abuse drugs or alcohol. Even more frightening is that the majority who need treatment do not receive it because:

•They are afraid of losing, or being separated from, their families

•They view their substance use as a social activity or habit, rather than an addiction that is disrupting their lives

•They believe that their substance abuse is the outcome of anxiety or depression, treating the mental health issue while ignoring the addiction

•They are afraid or embarrassed to admit they are struggling with addiction, and hide their drug or alcohol use from family and friends

There are special issues that women face in addiction treatment and recovery. The traditional wisdom of the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous says that women progress faster in addiction. Now the research is telling us the “why” and more importantly “what” can be done to assist women in recovery.

Women start using for different reasons, get addicted differently, progress faster, recovery differently and relapse for different issues. Due to shame and stigma, women may be more likely to drink/take pills when alone and hide it from others. Some women have their home as their bar and may have three martini play dates with their friends and their children. Those with stressful careers may use to keep up the image that they can raise three kids, have a high power job and still keep up! With the stimulant drugs some women start using to lose weight. While many women are high functioning and may be able to keep up the appearance of being fine they are unraveling on the inside.

Physiologically women metabolize alcohol and drugs differently than men. Physically one drink for a woman has twice the impact physiologically on a woman that it does on a man. That’s not just about getting drunk, that’s impact to the organs, to the brain. Mixing types of drugs makes it even more damaging. When mixing chemicals one and one is not necessarily two. Women also tend to have more access to prescribers of medications which can make it even more dangerous. Yes, there is physical damage but it may pale in comparison to the emotional and spiritual damage done by addiction. When a woman is addicted it can impact the entire family system – since women are generally the central organizing factors in their network (caregiver to aging parent, parent to children, caregiver of older partner, etc).

Women are complicated! In addition a female’s distinctive physiology, mental health issues, hormonal differences, spiritual concerns and as well as life circumstances may affect their experience in addiction and recovery. Treatment and recovery are most successful when these individualized needs are taken into account. The good news is that recovery is natural for women. Addiction is the unnatural state. The female brain is actually wired for connection! Many women find that the support of 12 Step programs and other support groups are exactly what they need to live a life free of chemicals. Recovery is the most critical part of an addict’s journey and many find that in recovery they have a life beyond their wildest dreams.

May 29

Why should I go to rehab?

Why should I go to rehab?

Why should I go to rehab?

If you’re asking yourself this question, chances are there are a lot of reasons for you to go to rehab. The first time I asked myself was long before my family intervened and sent me to rehab; long before I had failed out of school and lost my job. I would’ve saved myself a lot of pain and consequences if I had just gone to rehab then.

The reason I didn’t go to rehab was due to both pride and procrastination. I had convinced myself that I didn’t need it. I would quit on my own…tomorrow. I told myself I had responsibilities. I had a job; I was in school. I had bills to pay. I didn’t think I was a “real” addict.

Why should I go to rehab? Signs that it’s time

If you cannot make it through the day without a drug or a drink, you should go to rehab. If the thought of making it through the day without a substance scares you, you should go to rehab. If you have been charged with a crime due to your addiction, you should go to rehab. If you have lost employment, loved ones, or sold belongings to get drugs and alcohol, it’s time to get help. If you are selling drugs so that you will have drugs available to you, you should go to rehab.

Why should I go to rehab? Benefits of treatment

If you do decide to go to rehab, you have a much better chance of staying sober in the long term. Going to rehab gives you a window of opportunity to stay sober. Some people (I was one of them) cannot even string together a few days on their own. When you go to rehab, you will be in a safe place for a period of time that can give you a baseline of abstinence. Also, when you go to rehab, you will not have to face the dreaded withdrawal symptoms on your own. You will be given medication so that you are safe and comfortable during the withdrawal process. This is important because many people end up relapsing during the withdrawal stage if they try to do it on their own, just to relieve the discomfort from quitting drugs and alcohol.

Also, when you go to rehab, you will have the opportunity to create a new network of positive people in your life. Most of us had people in active addiction that we used to drink or get high with, and these relationships will need to be replaced if we are to have a genuine shot at staying clean in recovery

Why should I go to rehab? What to seek in a treatment center

When you decide to go to rehab, it can be difficult to decide where to go. The best treatment centers normally offer a variety of programs to meet each client’s individual needs. Also, consider the cost and what you can afford when you go to rehab. Many insurance policies will cover a stay in a treatment center, so check with your provider first. If you don’t have insurance and can’t afford a high-cost rehab, look for rehabs that offer a sliding scale payment option.

Apr 29

Women and Cocaine

Women and Cocaine

Women and Cocaine

Research shows that women have a different reaction to cocaine than men. They also often start using cocaine for different reasons. The study, funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) indicates that the gender differences will soon contribute to differences in treatments for men and women.

Women and Cocaine: The Study

In the study funded by NIDA, participants were given doses of a placebo powder on some days, and on others they were given cocaine. The responses of men and women were measured, including the different reactions in women both on and off their menstrual cycle. The results indicate that women are less sensitive to cocaine than men, regardless of what point in their menstrual cycle they were on. Men reacted more intensely, and even though everyone was given equal doses of the drug, women appeared to have less of it in their blood stream.

Women and Cocaine: Metabolism

The differences in metabolism may have a lot to do with the fact that men and women react differently to cocaine. Women seem to metabolize cocaine faster, perhaps because they have higher concentrations of cholinesterase. Cholinesterase is the enzyme responsible for breaking down drugs like cocaine.

Women and Cocaine: Menstruation

During menstruation, women undergo a lot of physical and hormonal changes, which may explain why they are less sensitive to cocaine. For example, during a woman’s monthly cycle, her nasal passages secrete more mucous. The mucous acts as a barrier to cocaine being absorbed through the lining of the drug.

Women and Cocaine: Frequency of Use

More women report that they do not experience a high the first time that they use cocaine. This may explain why in general, there are many more male users of cocaine than there are female users.

Women and Cocaine: Brain Effects

Although cocaine affects women less strongly in general than it does in men, certain parts of a women’s brain may be affected more strongly. Researchers have found that when women do cocaine, they have a marked decrease in the neural activity in the amygdala. They amygdala is involved in controlling social and sexual behaviors and emotions. This may explain why when women do cocaine, they are more likely to engage in risky behavior, especially risky sexual behavior, than are men on the same dose.

Women and Cocaine: Reasons for Using

There are also different reasons that women begin using cocaine. Women tend to feel much more pressure to be thin. They may use cocaine in order to lose weight. Also, the intense and unrealistic pressure that women feel regarding their appearance can cause feelings of worthlessness, uselessness, despair and self-loathing. This can fuel drug use, especially with drugs that decrease appetite and increase metabolism, like cocaine. Even though women feel fewer and less effects from cocaine than do men, the added desire to stay trim can drive an intense addiction that would have otherwise fizzled out. Thus, the reasons that women become addicted to cocaine may be more psychological than physical.


Apr 22

Women and Wine


Women and Wine

How many women put in a full day of work at the office, come home, take care of the kids, put their feet up, and have a glass or two of wine to relax? For a growing number of women, this has become a daily routine. Women and wine has started to become the social norm.

The connection between women and wine is a strong one. Women drink 60 percent of the wine consumed in the U.S. Studies show that women drink wine for a number of different reasons. They may feel that wine is “healthier” than other kinds of alcoholic drinks. They may drink wine at the end of the day to relax. Some women see wine as a healthful beverage which matches well with food, and as an “elegant,” lifestyle choice. Wine is socially acceptable, and many women find that their peers drink just as much as they do.

So what’s wrong with having wine at the end of the night. Well, aside from the fact that the number of calories in two five-ounce glasses of red wine is equal to those in a single snickers bar, if you’ve had two drinks, you are already drinking more than you should.

Moderate drinking is defined as one drink a day for women and two for men. Why the discrepancy? Women’s bodies don’t process alcohol in the same way as men. Women are smaller, and tend to have more body fat than men, so the same amount of alcohol can affect a women’s body more than that of a man’s.

Women and wine has become so common that some women who drink wine daily don’t even know that they binge drink. Binge drinking is consuming four or more alcoholic drinks in a two to three hour period.

When many women think of the dangers of drinking, they think of hard liquor and beer. Wine has been touted to have many health benefits. However, wine is not innocuous, and many of the health benefits are negligible, especially if you drink more than one glass a night.

Women and wine can have some very dangerous health effects. Drinking on a regular basis can cause liver damage and cancer. But even light drinking can increase the likelihood of breast cancer.

Other, lesser known effects of women and wine can include:

  • Alcohol raises blood temperature, causing or worsening hot flashes.
  • Alcohol can cause insomnia, even with moderate use.
  • Drinking can cause or worsen irritability, mood changes, and depression.

Though there are some health benefits to drinking a small amount of red wine in the evenings, these benefits can be obtained in other foods that are rich in antioxidants like red grapes, grape juice, grape seed oil, deep green veggies, melon, pumpkin, blueberries, and peppers.

For women in wine it seems like the bottom line is- if you’re going to drink, keep it to one glass a night. And if you can’t manage only one glass or you have noticed that your consumption has become greater and greater, it may be time to get some help.


Apr 08

Can rehab save your marriage?

Can rehab save your marriage?

Whether or not rehab can truly save your marriage all depends on the unique circumstance that you are in. Rehab is not a place to save relationships but is a place that offers alcoholics and addicts the care and attention they need to leave their alcoholism and addiction behind forever. It is possible to save your marriage once you get clean but the two are not one in the same. Whether it is too late or just in time, leaving behind an addiction and alcoholism can mean everything for your marriage.

Hopeful and desperate wives, husband and partners are one of the biggest reasons that many people decide to go to rehab. The reason they beg, plead and in the worst case scenarios threaten the relationship for you to go to rehab so somehow they can salvage your marriage. Spouses believe that marriage problems can and will be healed when your alcohol addiction is addressed. In some cases, rehab is a godsend for a marriage. Addicted and alcoholic husbands and wives get the care they need to get better and the spouses at home want to put the work in to get through the hard parts of recovery. In other cases it turns out that alcoholism and addiction was only one of the multiple problems within a marriage. In these marriages, while alcohol rehab can and will make a difference for the alcoholic or addicted spouse, rehab couldn’t and won’t save the marriage.

For the marriages that include the alcoholic or addicted spouse getting help and the spouse at home willing to put the work in, yes, rehab can save a marriage. Rehab can be the place where the addicted and alcoholic spouse gets clean, where apologies for mistakes during the drinking and using start, where the healing process can truly take hold and this can help save a marriage if both parties are willing to put in the effort. Rehab is also the place where family therapy happens and that can really help to save a marriage. Of course with all marriages, it takes work and time, and even after rehab if you want to save your marriage, you are going to need to continue going to therapy.

While rehab can save your marriage in some instances there are some things that rehab definitely cannot do for it. Rehab’s main purpose is to help you get medical and psychological treatment for addiction and alcoholism, point blank. Rehab’s goal is not to save your marriage but save you. No one can and nothing can save a marriage but the two people in it who are willing to do what it takes to salvage it. That means that rehab cannot make you or your spouse go get therapeutic care, stay sober, attend therapy, or go to codependency groups etc. The action and work has to be done by the two people in the marriage, rehab can just give you a good starting point if the effort and willingness is there.

Apr 04

Alcoholism and Cancer in Women

Alcohol and Cancer in Women

Alcoholism and Cancer in Women

Cancer kills 526,000 Americans every year and is only second to heart disease. Cancers in the lungs, large bowel, and breasts are the most common in the United States. There is a lot of evidence linking alcoholism and cancer, especially in women. It is estimated 2 to 4 percent of all cancer cases are thought to be caused either directly or indirectly by alcohol consumption.

What is cancer?

Cancer is a group of diseases that is characterized by cells that start growing out of control. Most of the time cancer forms from masses of cells or tumors that crowd out and even destroy normal tissue. The body normally controls normal cells to grow within the confines of tissues, cancer cells reproduce and grow all by themselves and are not stopped by tissue boundaries. Cancer develops in three stages: initiation, promotion and progression. Cancer-causing agents are known as carcinogens and can contribute to the first two stages of cancer.

Alcoholism and its link to cancer

Alcohol enhances the carcinogenic effects of other chemicals. Alcohol’s enhancing effect on certain carcinogens may have to do with enzymes. Some enzymes that normally help the body to detoxify can also increase the toxicity of some carcinogens. For instance carcinogens from tobacco and diet can become more potent as they pass through the esophagus, lungs, and intestines and encounter the activated enzyme. Alcohol is able to create an enzyme that associated with cancer in the liver, lungs, esophagus, and intestines.

Alcoholism and cancer in women

Women who consume even one alcoholic drink a day have an increased cancer risk, a study shows. The study showed that women who drank alcohol, around one drink day, had an increased cancer risk. The risk for cancer increased with alcohol intake especially for cancers of the breast, liver, rectum, mouth, throat and esophagus. Based on the findings in the research, it is estimated that alcohol could be the culprit for 13% of the cancers found in the women. The link between alcoholism and breast cancer has been proven over and over again but this is the first study to link low-to-moderate alcohol consumption to other cancers in women.

Alcoholism and breast cancer in women

Last year alone about 250,000 women were diagnosed with invasive and non-invasive breast cancers in the United States, according to the American Cancer society. The latest research on alcoholism and breast cancer in women suggested that 27,000 of those cancers were related to alcoholism. Women who drank only wine had the same risk for developing cancer as those who drank beer, spirits or a combination of different alcoholic beverages. Along with that, less than 2% of the women who participated in the study consumed more than three drinks a day but each drink heightened their risk for breast cancer. There is also the fact that women who smoke and drank alcohol had a very increased risk of oral, throat, and esophageal cancer. The risk was greater than the risk associated with smoking alone.


Mar 25

5 steps to de-stressing your day

5 Steps to De-stressing Your Day

5 steps to de-stressing your day

Chronic stress is hell on the body. Some studies even suggest that chronic stress can be more detrimental to your health than smoking. It causes your body to release cortisol, which is a natural steroid hormone. High levels of cortisol over a long period of time have been shown to negatively impact your immune system, causing insomnia, hormone imbalances, and many other negative reactions.  Here are 5 steps to de-stressing your day:

5 steps to de-stressing your day: Start the day with meditation

Meditation is a great way to calm the swirling thoughts in your mind. Sit on a cushion or on a chair. Get comfortable- sitting with a straight spine and your chin tucked in. Remove any distractions (especially your phone!) Sit quietly and concentrate on your breathing. Try starting with clearing your mind for 30 breaths. Focus your energy on a single point in your body and listen to your breaths. Slowly increase the time as your meditation practice improves.

5 steps to de-stressing your day: Laugh

Don’t take life so seriously. Take time to watch a funny movie or read a humorous column. Laughter is one of the best ways to distress your day. It releases endorphins, which are feel-good chemicals.

5 steps to de-stressing your day: Take a walk

If your reaching that time in your day when you just want to pull your hair out, sometimes it’s good to just get outside and away from the people and tasks that are causing you stress. Take a walk, get some sun, and get in touch with nature. Try to really notice what is going on around you and stay in the present moment.  It can be very healing to connect with nature.

5 steps to de-stressing your day: Get more sleep

One of the most common causes of becoming overstressed is lack of proper sleep. Stress causes insomnia, and lack of sleep worsens feelings of stress. It can become a vicious cycle. Getting a good night’s sleep can improve your mood, give you energy, and contribute to your overall feeling of well-being. The first step to a good night’s sleep: cultivate a relaxing atmosphere. You don’t sleep as well when you fall asleep in front of a TV or you are surrounded by clutter. Make your room an oasis and work on clearing your mind every night before you go to bed. Try to get at least 6-8 hours every night.

5 steps to de-stressing your day: Exercise

Exercise is so beneficial in so many ways. It is especially effective in de-stressing your day. Exercise, like laughter, releases endorphins, clears the mind, and helps you sleep better. It is also a great way to improve overall health and well-being.  One of the best forms of exercise for de-stressing your day is yoga. Yoga encompasses the body and the breath so it’s not only a great form of exercise, but it incorporates meditation to slow down and calm the body and the mind.