by Claire Fitzpatrick, D.C.
Some of us have trouble with moderation. I know I do.
Like many of us, I tend toward an addictive personality. That means that, if I don’t watch myself, I get attached to people, behaviors, and things that aren’t good for me. If I let them, they ruin my life.
At different points, I have been addicted to approval, bad relationships, cynicism, and despair. All of these are deadly to a healthy, effective, happy life.
For 20 years, I was a 1 ½ pack-a-day smoker. It was hard, but I quit for good 20 years ago. I can never go back to smoking. I cannot smoke in moderation.
Alcohol has an addictive potential for me. So far, it has not had a hold on me as cigarettes did. But I know it could if I let it. Back in the 1990s, when my previous marriage broke down, I drank quite a bit to self-medicate. It only made things worse. In 2000, when I finally decided to do something meaningful with my life, I enrolled in chiropractic school. I quit drinking for five whole years. Afterward, I carefully reintroduced wines and spirits back into my life. Ever since then, I have had great respect for alcohol’s power.
Before I drink, I try to choose when, what, and how much I am going to drink, because making those judgments while drinking doesn’t work. Many of us are unable to drink alcohol, even in moderation. I applaud, honor, respect, and support those reclaiming their lives from alcohol and other addictive drugs. Some of us may not have that level of addiction, but may suspect that, lately, we are “enjoying” our evening beverages too much. It might even be starting to worry us.
If you find yourself in this situation, don’t beat yourself up. Just make sure you are not confusing the act of enjoying with self-medicating, and act accordingly. Here are some healthy, effective tools I have found that keep me in check if I ever find myself looking forward to five o’clock a little too much.
Eat something. If I forget to eat, the urge to reflexively grab a glass of wine in the evening is much stronger than if I have had a nice, low-glycemic afternoon snack, along with some fresh, filtered water.
Dr. Claire’s 4:20 Trail Mix
½ cup organic lightly salted sprouted mixed nuts
½ cup organic semi-sweet dark chocolate chips
¼ cup organic raisins
1/3 cup organic dried cherries
1/8 cup organic sprouted sunflower seeds
Mix together and eat by the fistful. 2-3 should do it. Yum.
Meditate. Meditating calms the nerves, releases stress, increases energy, and rests your brain and body, even while you’re awake. Do this meditation before happy hour or before sampling the cooking wine.
Dr. Claire’s 4:20 Meditation
Lock your door, set your phone to silent. Set the alarm for 20 minutes.
Put on some nature sounds or some trippy Tibetan bowl music. Dim the lights.
Sit in a high-backed chair, get in the lotus position, or in a comfortable lying position. Just make sure your spine is straight.
Turn your palms up in your lap or toward the sky if you’re lying down.
Press your tongue to the roof of your mouth, turn your closed eyes upward toward your forehead like you’re looking up. Imagine a blue moon with a halo against a misty midnight sky (it’s a meditation thing).
Breathe deeply into your belly (not shoulders), and out, to the count of 4.
On the inhale, say silently to yourself, “So.” On the exhale, say, “Hum.” (Also a meditation thing.)
Do this for 20 minutes. You’ll be shocked how fast the time flies, and how great you’ll feel afterward.
Take a brisk walk. Brisk walking is different from rushing. Rushing triggers an adrenal hormone release, which isn’t necessarily bad, but in this case, it triggers the fight-flight response because you rush when you’re on someone else’s time. Brisk walking also releases adrenaline, but because you are walking for yourself, it is a positive rush instead of a negative rush. It also releases endorphins and factors that give a sense of clarity and calm.
Dr. Claire’s 4:20 “Suburban Shuffle”
Find a nice, scenic route with as little cross traffic as possible.
Briskly walk for 20 minutes. Stretch your legs wide enough that you feel your rear end tighten as you walk. Swing your arms deliberately as you walk to increase your cardio and to strengthen your upper arms.
Enjoy the scenery. Then go join your friends.
Do you have your own story? How do you handle the razor’s edge of addictive urges? Let me know.