How To Have A Social Life While Recovering From Addiction

It was the partying and bars that helped bring you to this point. After years of self-destructive behavior, failed relationships, and even some run-ins with the law, you’ve finally managed to walk that straight edge. You’re clean and sober, and you have every reason to want to keep that going. 

But you also deserve friends, fun, and the rest that comes with having some kind of social life. That can be tough when you’re recovering from addiction. Society as a whole is not designed to be supportive to those in recovery. But without social interactions and good times, the resulting depression and loneliness can trigger a relapse. 
To help, Karen Weeks of Elderwellness.net shares some tips for staying clean and sober while going out and having fun.

Image Source: Pixabay

Finding The Right Activities

One of the keys to staying sober while going out for fun activities is picking the right ones. This takes some of your history into account. If you spent way too much time in your previous years in dive bars, heading to hear a band at one might not be the best idea. Here are some activities that help support you in your addiction recovery. 

  • Play some games: This doesn’t mean sitting alone on a couch playing video games. You need social activities. Instead, get some friends together for board games. Bring a pack of cards to a restaurant and play there. And yes, video games with a bunch of friends in the room does count. 
  • Go see some live sports: Sports loyalties bring out a passion from their fans. Even if you barely know people, you can quickly bond over a game. But instead of hitting the bar scene, go see the game live. Professional leagues can be expensive, but minor leagues can be even more fun. 
  • Join a local league or sports club: Speaking of sports, you can have a social life by joining a local league or amateur sports club. Many adults get together on weekends to play some football, basketball, and more. 
  • Check your local library and park district: You’d be surprised how many social activities are now being offered by your hometown’s library and park district. Visit their website and look to see what clubs, events, and happenings you can attend. 
  • Reconnect with former friends: If you lost touch with friends along the way, rekindling old friendships can be a healthy way to heal and move forward in your sobriety journey. If you have trouble finding old classmates, try a site like ClassFinders, which makes it easy to track down school friends by graduation date and alma mater.

Going Along With The Group

You can’t be that person who’s always telling the group where they need to go. Sometimes, you’ll have to head with your friends to some place that can challenge your sobriety. It’s not inevitable, but it is something you can handle. 

First, explain to your friends why certain activities are just not for you. There’s a difference between going to a restaurant that serves alcohol and a dive bar that serves nothing but cheap booze. Your friends will understand. 

Once out, a big way to stay sober is to change your focus. Instead of thinking about how you can’t enjoy a few drinks, focus instead on how you can mingle, talk to people, eat great food, that sort of thing. In other words, give your mind something positive to think about. 

Just make sure you have an exit plan. Hanging out at a club can be great, but what happens when you suddenly realize everyone around you is high? You need to know when to leave. But you also need to know how. 

A Sober Companion Can Save You

When you’re out and about, having a close friend who can leave with you can be a lifesaver. Suddenly leaving a club or house party is embarrassing, but it’s less so when someone is heading out with you. Find a friend that you can depend on like that, and be sure to make it up to them if you have to leave early. 

It’s not always easy living the sober life. You’ve already made many big changes to your lifestyle, and more are probably on their way. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have a social life. Just pick your activities carefully, focus on something fun and sobering, and make sure you have an exit plan. 

Your Family’s Guide to Hassle-Free Healthy Eating

Photo Credit: Pixabay

By Karen Weeks

Please check out

Elderwellness.net and contact her via karen@elderwellness.net

These days, we’re surrounded by sodas, ice cream, and fast food restaurants. Those things can be fun and convenient. However, it’s also good to get into the habit of eating healthy foods, especially if you’re a budding entrepreneur and dealing with the potential for burnout of managing your business and employees. So if you want to help your kids and yourself eat better and feel better, here are some tips from Dr. Stacey Naito to help.

What Is Healthy, Whole Food?

You may be wondering what “healthy” really means when it comes to your family’s food choices. Most health professionals agree that the healthiest foods contain adequate micronutrients and are unprocessed. A better way to think about this is to aim to choose whole foods or natural foods that have not been processed.

For example, chicken breast, spinach, quinoa, yams, and nuts are all whole foods because they have not been processed. On the other hand, cereal, white bread and french fries are not whole foods. Try to incorporate more whole foods into your family’s diet and try to get more gut-healthy probiotics from surprising sources like garlic and onions in order to boost your family’s digestive and mental health, as well as their immune system. Also, make sure to fuel your family for the day with a nutritious breakfast.

Why Eat Whole Foods?

By eating foods that are high in vitamins, minerals, fiber and healthy fats, your family will be getting the energy they need to survive and thrive. By avoiding processed food that is high in sodium, sugar, trans fat, and saturated fats, your family will also be protecting themselves from the dangers of obesity, heart disease, and even tooth decay. In addition to the physical ramifications of a poor diet, eating highly processed foods can impact your family’s mental health and make them feel more stressed, depressed and anxious. 

In essence, what we eat affects brain function, biochemical pathways and even the size of certain areas of the brain that regulate mood and emotion. Foods high in unhealthy fats and sugars are also highly addictive; the more we eat, the more we want. If you want your family to be healthy (both physically and mentally), you can counteract these effects by encouraging a diet that is rich in whole foods. 

In addition to health benefits, eating foods in their natural or whole state cuts down on the environmental impact of plastic food packaging. When you eat a banana, there is no waste. The peel decomposes, leaving no trace behind. Adversely, the plastic bag carrying banana chips adds to the problem of packaging waste pollution.

How Can Families Get Started? 

One of the easiest ways to ensure your family is getting enough healthy whole foods is to prepare food at home. Get your entire family involved in cooking – not only is there an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables in season, but you likely also have more time to spend preparing meals. Plus, kids who cook tend to eat healthier as adults. 

Another way to ease your family into healthier habits is to add veggies to your favorite comfort foods. Avoid trying to trick your children into eating veggies and take the time to explain to your children why having zucchini with macaroni or spinach on pizza is good for them. Smoothies can also be an easy way to get kids into eating more fruits and veggies. Blend up bananas with leafy greens or even pineapple with cabbage. 

If you plan on taking a road trip, you have an extra chance to get your kids to eat healthy. Instead of stopping for fast food, try bringing some healthy snack options, like dried fruit, popcorn or low-sugar cereals. 

Finally, be patient as your kids pick up new healthy food habits. You may need to serve veggies alongside old favorites for a while, and don’t get discouraged if your loved ones go after the occasional indulgence. The process may be gradual but eventually, your entire family will begin to see the benefits of eating those healthy foods. 

Dr. Stacey Naito is a board-certified family practice physician, artist, and fitness model. Check out her blog for fitness and wellness tips, inspirational stories, and product reviews. 

Why I Hate The Phrase, “It Is What It Is”

“It is what it is.’

I cannot understand why this phrase has become so popular, because it is incredibly stupid and redundant. I cringe every single time I hear someone utter it, and am dismayed by the number of people I know who have adopted this into their current communication behaviors. Why has it suddenly become so trendy to state the obvious in this manner? I can’t help but think that everyone who utters this string of words either hasn’t given much thought to the circular reasoning buried in it, or has developed a pathological and resigned attitude towards life in which circumstances are shrugged off. Come on guys, take a little responsibility, would you?

Copyright: rnl

If we look at res ipsa loquitur logic, this legal term indicates that someone is presumed to be negligent if that individual had control over what caused the injury. But since I took two years of Latin in high school, I am more intrigued by the original semantics and logic of this particular phrase. If we apply this idea of negligence to the statement, “it is what it is”, does that mean that people are blaming fate, or the lockdown, for the unraveling of society which has occurred in the past year and a half, or are they simply resigning themselves to fate when they utter that? All I know is that I have heard it far too often since spring of last year, and it is raising my ire.

I truly enjoy and appreciate what Ethan Ryan from The Fiddleback has to say about this idiotic statement:

“It is what it is” is a waste of words, a waste of breath. I mean, sure, I get it. It expresses the same sentiment as the French “C’est la vie!” But still, it irks me. It’s just a repetitive series of defeatist monosyllables. Why not just say “It is,” or for that matter, “It’s”?

Of course it is what it is! How could it be anything but it?

The only context in which that phrase would be appropriate would be if somebody asked “Is it what it is?” and you said, “Yes, it is what it is.” Presumably you’d have this conversation in an assisted living home with a demented loved one attempting to categorize an ice cream cone.

When you write “It is what it is” as a mathematical algorithm it looks like this:

it = it

In logic, this is called the law of identity, which states that an object is the same as itself. “A is A” is a tautology. Here are some more:

1 = 1

pineapple = pineapple

J = J

☺ = ☺

poop = poop

X = X

Those are analytical facts, verified by their consistency within the rules of a symbol system. But they’re also stupid and irrelevant. They’re true under all possible circumstances, and they demand little of the world for their truth. You don’t need evidence to back up the claim “Poop is what poop is.”

Here’s another tautology:

Formula_Ryan

Seems logical, right? I don’t know, I’m not a logician.

What concerns me are rhetorical tautologies such as:

“I am what I am.” ~ God talking to Moses

“I yam what I yam.” ~ Popeye talking to Olive Oyl

“Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose.” ~ Gertrude Stein

“A horse is a horse, of course, of course.” ~ the Mr. Ed theme song

“It is what it is what it is what it is what it is what it is what it is.” ~ this essay

It is it. A is A. But redundancies are redundant, aren’t they? Be succinct. Next time your umbrella breaks, or your toilet gets clogged, or your house burns down, just shrug and say “It’s.”

That’s obnoxious advice, I know. Defeatism gets us nowhere. Life is hard, but that’s no excuse to spout meaningless clichés. There are so many fantastic adjectives and nouns and verbs out there, humming in a deep pocket of your brain. Use your words. Don’t just say “It is what it is.” We already know that.

Wittgenstein said philosophy is the headache you get from banging your head up against the limits of language. When I came across that line I decided I was done studying philosophy. Years later, my head is still hurting. Philosophy is dangerous.

Whatever.

It’s.

——–
Ethan Ryan

How the Pandemic Made Wine O’Clock Acceptable

Copyright: iridi

Shortly after COVID-19 caused a global lockdown in early 2020, many of us began to regard having a cocktail before 5 pm as acceptable. Conventional rules about how most people used to live were thrown out the window when we were suddenly trapped inside our homes, bored, stressed out, and uncertain about our futures. I don’t doubt for a second that many people turned to booze as a coping mechanism, to quell concerns over the mysterious virus which froze the world in trepidation, and to soothe anxiety over job security and financial wellness. Perhaps some individuals also turned to libations to manage the aggravation which resulted from the constant close proximity to family members from whom they used to be able to escape when they were able to leave the house for work. I suspect boredom has triggered a fair amount of drinking as well.

Copyright: ajlber

During full lockdown, alcohol merchants made it easy for people stuck at home craving a glass of cabernet sauvignon to order online or through apps and have ethanol elixirs delivered to their residences. Even now, with restrictions largely lifted, restaurants and other food-centered businesses have come up with cheeky suggestions on how alcohol can calm spirits ravaged by the chaotic and confusing events which COVID-19 created. It’s surprising to me how so many people who never drank on a regular basis admitted to drinking on a daily basis during full lockdown, because it smoothed the rough edges of a tumultuous and frightening time in history.

The Urge To Purge…Clutter, That Is…

Source: 123rf.com
Image ID : 36630133
Copyright : Ioulia Bolchakova

Over the decades, I have accumulated a lot of stuff, and there are many things I may never have the heart to part with, so they remain somewhere in my home, either on display or in a closet or garage shelf. However, the idea of holding onto something I am not currently using has never sit well with me, so I frequently perform purges in which I deep clean, reorganize, repair, and at times sell or donate belongings which are not being used. Since my mother’s family was notorious for being pack rats (to give you an idea, I nominated my favorite aunt for an episode of Hoarders and they were keenly interested in bringing her on, then she fell ill), I have fought against any inclination to hang onto anything which will merely take up space.

I conduct purges about 4 to 8 times per year, and this includes areas such as my garage, all closets, my kitchen, my bedroom, and my master bathroom. Strangely, even though I frequently get rid of things, I somehow still have so much stuff, and it truly bothers me at times. I guess I am not destined to lead a spartan lifestyle, especially when I hold onto keepsakes like the stuffed yellow dog which was in my crib and can still play “Rock a Bye Baby” from the music box which is nestled in its belly. However, old area rugs, candles which I never used, books I have no interest in reading again, decorative pieces which have been ousted in favor of new ones with a different theme or color story, all end up either on Facebook Marketplace or in boxes which are carted off to Goodwill.

For those of you who tend to be hoarders, especially those of you who hold onto a box because it’s a “good box” (don’t fret, I’ve done that too), it might be a good idea to enforce regular purge sessions so that you don’t get pushed out of your own home by your own clutter!

Work Logs During COVID

Image ID : 123934574
Source: 123rf.com
Copyright : Dmitrii Shironosov 

Ever since the pandemic began, many of us have become accustomed to working from home. For some, the shift to a home office environment may have enhanced productivity, while for those who struggle with self-motivation, a home work environment may have served as nothing but a challenge. Suddenly, work environments became riddled with completely new potential distractions, such as pets, children, package deliveries, and household chores. We have had to take more responsibility over our accountability and work ethic, while also working at a pace which doesn’t burn us out. I have a hunch that while some people have slacked off while working from home, more have probably worked harder while trapped at home than they ordinarily would while in a traditional work environment. I know that I have stayed up incredibly late at night to perform asynchronous telemedicine visits from home, something I would never be willing to do if I was working in a traditional clinic or medical office.

One thing I hadn’t given much thought to, despite the fact that my telemedicine productivity is monitored online, is that some employers have required employees to fill out work logs which itemize every single task an employee performs while on the clock. Given the fact that home distractions are quite different from work distractions, I wonder how much reported work activities have conflicted with what someone actually did during a work shift. On the other side of the coin, should quick bathroom breaks and trips to the kitchen for a snack be reported as scheduled breaks?

Image ID : 134010584
Source: 123rf.com
Copyright : lightfieldstudios

Work/life balance is critically important for us all. We aren’t slaves, nor should we be treated as such. I truly believe that if an employee performs all required tasks for a given day, then the employer has no right to monitor every single second of that employee’s time, whether it is spent in the office/shop or at a home office. Another consideration is that while some would consider the presence of a pet in the home work environment to be a distraction, having a beloved pet around would reduce stress, lower blood pressure, and enhance mood. I know that when I have one of my cats sitting on my lap while I am working on the computer, I am much more at ease. As a matter of fact, I have my rescue cat Shima sitting on my lap while I write this blog post, and I honestly feel that she enhances the flow of ideas and gives me so much love and comfort, thus enhancing my work.

Image ID : 145851688
Source: 123rf.com
Copyright : lacheev

There are a multitude of benefits I can come up with for working from home:

  • No need to battle traffic or spend extra time sitting in a car or other mode of transportation as a means of traveling to and from a work site
  • Ability to perform relaxation breathing, rant, etc. while working especially long or frustrating hours without getting berated for it
  • You can work in your skivvies if you so choose

I’m curious to know who prefers working from home, and who is actually looking forward to returning to their regular work environment.

Those Crazy Plant People

Source: 123rf.com
Image ID : 152344739
Copyright : dolgachov

 

If someone had told me at the end of 2019 that in 2020, I would surpass the level of plant of obsession I experienced in 2000-2002, I would have argued that it would never happen.  Yet here I am, with over 100 indoor plants (119 at the time of writing this post, to be exact), still thinking about the next plant I intend to add to my wishlist.  I am in good company too, because there is massive and ever growing community of plant fanatics which is knit together by countless social media plant influencers, Facebook groups, and online plant shops.  As long as we continue to be sequestered in our homes and encouraged to continue to practice social distancing, the frenzy over hoarding plants is likely to intensify.

Plant people create plant communities inside their homes which serve as therapy and great comfort during the lockdown and social turmoil which has us roiled.  There are times when I will walk around my home, surveying the lush environment I have created, noting the character of each plant, and I honestly appreciate them all.  Then there’s the anticipation of ordering a plant online, which is akin to meeting a new potential love interest.  I can honestly say that I have become giddy after finding a coveted plant and ordering it.  And when a plant arrives in the mail, I want to open the parcel immediately, not only because I am concerned for the living thing inside the box, but I simply can’t wait to feast my eyes on the new addition to my plant collection.

Now that I am a “plant person” once again, I have picked up a tremendous amount of knowledge of nomenclature and plant care.  I have encountered a number of other plant people who could definitely be accused of being plant snobs, using terms like “etiolated” or “pubescent leaves”, and showing disgust when someone doesn’t know what they are talking about.  For the most part, though, plant people tend to be very positive, caring, and friendly.

 

 

5 Healthy Habits Seniors Can Adopt in the New Year

Please check out this excellent article written by Karen Weeks, which covers healthy habits which seniors can adopt in 2021.

Image via Pexels

By Karen Weeks of elderwellness.net

A brand new year is ahead of us, making it the perfect time to adopt healthy habits like eating nutritiously, exercising regularly, and spending time with loved ones (whether in-person or virtually). Below, Dr. Stacey Naito offers five senior-friendly habits that can be adopted in the new year — and how seniors can go about incorporating them in their lives.

1. Eat Nutritiously

According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, seniors need adequate amounts of calcium and vitamin D, B12, dietary fiber, healthy fats, and potassium in order to lead long and healthy lives. And fortunately, seniors can get all the nutrients they need by consuming plenty of fresh leafy greens, lean meats, beans, and healthy fats like avocados and fish. Supplementation may also be necessary if calcium, B12, B6, or vitamin D levels are low.

 

If you’re looking for some ways to eat better this year, try buying a new cookbook or two, purchasing a grocery delivery service, or visiting your local health foods store to stock up on fresh fruits and veggies, healthy grains, and lean proteins. If you’re thinking of paying for a grocery delivery service, some of the best options for produce include Imperfect Foods, Misfits Market, and Farmbox.

2. Exercise Often

Like good nutrition, seniors need plenty of physical activity — including strength training activities, exercises for balance and flexibility, and aerobic activities such as walking, biking, swimming, or dancing. And fortunately, there are several things seniors can do to increase their physical activity in the year ahead:

 

  • Following along to exercise DVDs or online fitness classes.

  • Walking or biking alone or with friends (while practicing social distancing, of course).

  • Parking further away from store entrances when shopping.

  • Purchasing an elliptical machine, exercise bike, or treadmill.

  • Starting and maintaining a garden.

 

If you have a medical condition or you’re experiencing body aches or pains, a physical therapist can help you to select the best exercises for you. Plus, many physical therapists are offering virtual services amidst COVID-19.

3. Socialize With Loved Ones

Socializing is tough in the age of the coronavirus, but it isn’t impossible! With senior-friendly video chat software, online multiplayer games and apps, and safe in-person gatherings (like outdoor activities and walks with loved ones), seniors can safely spend more time with their friends and family members in the new year. Regular socialization keeps seniors physically, mentally, and emotionally well — and reduces their risk of cognitive decline and depression.

4. Keep the Mind Sharp

Speaking of cognitive decline, seniors should also make time for brain games and activities in the new year. Brain games keep the mind young and healthy, fight boredom, and improve overall mental well-being. A few brain training activities for seniors include:

 

  • Jigsaw puzzles, crosswords, and word finds.

  • Classes on cooking, foreign languages, dance, or music.

  • Arts and crafts like knitting, scrapbooking, and upcycling.

  • Reading, coloring, and drawing.

5. Clean and Declutter

Clutter is harmful for a number of reasons. Not only does it create tripping hazards at home, but excess clutter often triggers anxiety, concentration issues, irritability, and even depression. So, if you’ve been feeling especially negative or depressed as of late, the new year is the perfect time to freshen up your living space by cleaning, decluttering, and letting in as much fresh air as possible. Redfin shares a checklist with some ideas for cleansing your home and creating a happier and healthier living space.

New Year, New You

It’s never too late to adopt healthier habits and take steps to improve your life, and these five tips will help you to tackle everything from changing your diet to eliminating excess clutter at home. No matter your age, the start of a new year is the perfect time to reinvent yourself and improve various areas of your life.

 

Looking for more health tips and advice? Visit Dr. Stacey Naito’s blog at staceynaitoblog.com.