I do not know about you; but for me, there is something to be said about getting back into a routine after the holidays. This is not only for my own recovery but also for my clients who are in recovery. As much as I look forward to the end of the year and having a break from the routine of work, picking and dropping off kids from their activities and school, this first full week of the new year cannot come fast enough.I love going into Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s, as I have so much to be thankful for and celebrate. It is great to take time off and relax from all the busyness. For me, I find it difficult to turn off my brain and get out of work mode, then get back into full work mode once the holidays are over.
Many people can over indulge in their pleasure senses, as that part of our brain and body loves the dopamine hits. During this time, many over indulge in tryptophan with turkey, sugar in sweet foods, candy, deserts, carbs and breads, movie marathons, social media, TV, watching sporting events, gaming, gambling, shopping online and offline, spending money, drugs, sex, porn, and alcohol – just to name a few. Now some even go in a positive direction of over indulgence in exercise, selfcare, and vacations, etc. Leave it to us humans to figure out just about any and every way to make ourselves feel better, as we have mastered it. You can do any of these things 24/7. It’s so awesome!
These things all seem wonderful in the moment; but as those moments pass, we find ourselves needing more of the substance, distraction, activity or drug more often to get the same “high” or positive rewards to our brain and body. Coming down from our over indulgence in these activities and behaviors can be much like a hangover. Symptoms like fatigue, depression, lethargy, irritability, anger, anxiety, sleeping to much or too little, or frustration with yourself or others.
I believe there are more socially acceptable behaviors or “addictions” than others. I do not believe this is a good thing. Just because it is “accepted” and “normal” does not mean problems aren’t going to follow. “If everyone is doing it, how can it be bad?”
Our culture approves and accepts some behaviors/addictions over others. For example, for the most part, our culture approves of over indulgence of food, sugar, shopping, spending money, busyness, watching TV or movies, supporting college and professional sporting events, gambling, and the use of technology, texting, sexting, exercise and fitness programs. I will even go so far as to say our culture, for the most part, approves of drug, sex and alcohol addiction as long as you are able to “function,” and it is not causing you problems in your personal and professional relationships. It is also socially acceptable to indulge in these behavior as long as you do not get caught.
For me, this is a problem and a big reason why many suffer from the holiday hangover, not just this time of year but on a weekly basis, especially over the weekend and then to the work week.
Here are 10 warning signs to consider that you might be over indulging in socially acceptable activities or behaviors that our culture approves of:
- You spend time at work planning and fantasying about the activity/behavior.
- This activity has negatively affected your health in some way.
- This activity has negatively affected your legal status with the law or the ability to pay bills.
- This activity has put you in debt.
- This activity is kept secret from loved ones.
- This activity has negatively affected work performance.
- This activity has negatively impacted professional or personal relationships.
- You have tried to stop this behavior but have been unsuccessful.
- You find yourself losing track of time.
- After the activity, you feel tired, lazy, fatigued, worthlessness, guilt or even shame.
If you have five or more of these, you may be suffering from not only a holiday hangover but also a legitimate addiction that is affecting you on a weekly or daily basis. Ask for help. There is hope. You are not alone.
As you look toward the new year and set goals and resolutions [Read Recovering from your Unmet Resolutions] for yourself, know that every journey starts with one small decision to do something different. Take the courageous first step toward change and the new you. You are worth it! [Read Moving from Worthless to Worthy]
Cory Schortzman is an author, speaker, teacher and licensed mental health professional. Since 2008, he has served as the Executive Director of Transformed Hearts Counseling Center in Colorado Springs, CO. He is the founder of SARA, the Sexual Addiction Recovery Association. Cory is passionate about helping couples and individuals overcome sex addiction. He is also passionate about bringing awareness to the public and supporting the elimination of sex and human trafficking. Cory has been married since 1998 to his beautiful wife, Kerry, and lives in Colorado with their four daughters. He and Kerry have been seen on the CBS Early Show, Inside Edition, and ABC Good Morning America, Fox 21 News, and TLC/Discovery discussing the harm of sex addiction and the joys of recovery. He has also been heard on numerous radio programs.
Cory’s books include: Out of the Darkness, Into the Light the Workbook, Into the Light the Steps, Ashes to Beauty the Steps, 301 Dating Ideas, 301 Conversational Ideas, 301 Ways to Say I Love You, 301 Ways to Love Your Children & 301 Recovery Tools & Tips.