When we think of the word, our minds may wander to empty pill bottles or a kitchen lined with beer cans. We think of people who can’t hold a job or ruin relationships because substances like alcohol and drugs dictate their lives and lead them down rough roads.
But have you ever stopped to think whether the word’s true meaning applies to your own life? If we aren’t on our way to rehab, can we still be addicts? The answer is yes. Food, sex, TV, shopping - as flawed human beings, we are susceptible to being addicted to pretty much anything.
So, how exactly do we do we know if our innocent delights have crossed the line?
Name The Feeling
Imagine the activity in question was completely cut loose from your life. How would you feel? Panicked? Out of control? Indifferent? Experts say your emotions are prime indicators as to whether you are displaying addictive behaviors.
Start paying attention to how much you are engaging in the activity. Weekly? Daily? Hourly? Psychology Today magazine says telling ourselves “just a little bit longer” is a red flag. To combat your desire to watch only one more episode of New Girl or scroll through just two more posts on your Facebook feed, ask yourself, “What would I be getting done right now if I was not engaging in this activity?” Self-motivating questions like this can help bring you back into reality.
Another factor to consider is when you are engaging in this potentially addictive activity. Is it the first thing you think of when you wake up in the morning or the last thing on your mind before you go to sleep every night? Watching YouTube videos is fine, but when you’re checking your online dating app while you’re on the clock, it may be time for an intervention. A good fix could be scheduling - try mapping out your week and block off specific, reasonable amounts of time for your guilty pleasures. It’s a lot easier to walk away from the iPad or Xbox when you set a certain amount of time in advance.
One of the cruelest results of any addiction is its ability to strip people from what they love most in life. Sometimes we get so used to ordering takeout or eating nightly sweets that we forget how healthy foods make us feel energized. Or maybe you loved going out with your homegirls but have now let your TV keep you in every Friday. Try listing the activities you used to do or the groups you were involved in. Why are they not a part of your life anymore? Did your interests change, or did something of lesser value take them over?
Not everyone is a true addict - though if you or someone you know is exhibiting harmful, addictive behavior, seek help immediately and get back on the path to wellness with a support system by your side - but it is still easy to overlook some of the seemingly minor habits that may have taken root over the years. Take some time to do a quick lifestyle check to make sure your road for the future is healthy and happy.