For that last bit I can only apologise.
We’re all addicts though, in some form or other. Maybe our addictions aren’t immediately life threatening or create social stigma such as those above (sorry Russell) but they are there. Affecting our behaviour and influencing many different areas of our lives.
First up is probably the most common addiction and you probably don’t even realise it.
1. Checking your Facebook, email and phone for updates
Social media is a bitch. On one hand the technology is amazing and I can remember a time when if I wanted to talk to someone who wasn’t within ear shot I had two choices. I could either pick up the house phone (urgh) or I could write them a letter and wait for the mailman to deliver it 3 weeks later than I intended.
Now we have smartphones, the internet and various other messaging services like IM and email to distract us every minute of every day. It’s like we’ve gone from relative isolation to having the world buzzing in our ears with its unrelenting mish mash of useless information and invitations to birthdays for people we barely know.
All of this information shortens our attention span and we end up constantly on the lookout for the next quick fix. The dopamine hit we experience when we receive a new text message or we see a new exciting news headline keeps us coming back for more. This leads to a shorter attention span and affects our concentration levels.
Not only that but there is also a link between internet addiction and depression.
A study from Leeds University asked 1,319 young people and adults about their internet usage and 1.4% were apparently internet addicts. This is a pretty small number but the interesting part was that a high percentage of these addicts had symptoms of moderate to severe depression.
The ironic thing was that the questionnaire was sent out via social media. Reports that their next study on alcoholism will be carried out in the local pub are as of yet, unconfirmed.
2. You’re still watching too much television
Remember when our parents used to warn us that too much television will make our eyes go square? Or that it will somehow rot our brains?
It kinda does. Well, it’s not called the ‘idiot box’ for nothing you know.
TV itself has taught us many things over the years. Joey Tribianni once asked the question, ‘You don’t own a TV? What’s all your furniture pointed at?’ and Homer Simpson had this to say also, ‘When will I learn? The answers to life’s problems aren’t at the bottom of a bottle, they’re on TV!’
With insight like that how can too much television be a bad thing? Well according to research, for every 1 hour we spend in front of the television we shorten our lifespan by 22 minutes! Or to put it another way if that number seems a bit too small for you. 6 hours a day watching television will knock FIVE years off your life.
In 1999-2000, Dr J Lennert Veerman published a paper in the British Journal of Sports Medicine that looked at 11,247 Australians and asked about time spent watching TV, and also mortality figures for the country. They worked out that 1 hour equated to a reduction in life expectancy of 21.8 minutes and those in the top 1% of Homer worshipers can expect to live 4.8 years less than more active people.
Jesus, you’d be better off taking up sword fighting with sharks rather than risk life and limb watching the next Big Brother marathon.
No seriously, you would.
3. Pornography overwhelms your caveman brain
This entry, as you could probably guess is aimed at the males of this world. Yes women like to watch a bit slap and tickle from time to time but the problems that pornography creates are far more prominent in men.
It’s all about our friend dopamine again. The little chemical that is responsible for our motivational levels and in the context of this subject, our libido.
To put this simply, watching several naughty videos allows us to see more flesh than our caveman cousins would see in their entire lifetime. It’s like being broke only to win the lottery, then having the money taken away again almost instantly.
Our brains were designed to become stimulated when in the presence of a female, not by watching very attractive women on a computer screen.
Too many hours spent watching pornography will cause your dopamine receptors to become desensitised and thus you will need to seek out more extreme visual stimulation to achieve the same effect. Yes that’s right, porn is a drug.
The problems that can occur from this addiction can range from erectile dysfunction, loss of libido, loss of motivation and depression. Luckily, there are ways to reverse this however.
4. Eating too many carbs literally rots your arteries
I have mentioned previously that what most people think they know about dieting and healthy eating is a little off. The media and the government like to tell us that fat is the enemy and to cut it out from our diets whenever possible.
You know the routine. Fatty foods leads to an increase in cholesterol and that will clog your arteries and you will probably end up having a huge heart attack that will make Elvis Presley’s last trip to the toilet look like an insignificant event.
There is growing evidence that it isn’t cholesterol that causes heart disease but actually sugar that is the problem.
Okay, cholesterol does indeed build up in the arteries but this only occurs because the artery walls are inflamed to begin with. Why is this so?
It’s because we eat far too many carbs and especially simple sugar carbs.
Dr Dwight Lundell says, ‘The rest of us have simply followed the recommended mainstream diet that is low in fat and high in polyunsaturated fats and carbohydrates, not knowing we were causing repeated injury to our blood vessels. This repeated injury creates chronic inflammation leading to heart disease, stroke, diabetes and obesity.
Let me repeat that: The injury and inflammation in our blood vessels is caused by the low fat diet recommended for years by mainstream medicine.’
The irony being that it is the reduction of fatty foods from our diet that is in turn causing us to buy more processed, high carbohydrate foods that is increasing the chances of getting heart disease in the future.
5. A bit of retail therapy? Oh the irony
I talk about irony a lot in this article and with good reason. A lot of the things we try and do to cheer ourselves up actually end up achieving the opposite and these last two entries are perfect examples of this.
First up is shopping addiction. It all seems so innocent on the surface. You feel a little down or bored so you organise a shopping day to buy yourself some new shoes to make yourself feel better.
It works for a short time before you see some other new shoes you fancy. Suddenly the ones you’re wearing now seem a bit boring and even though they cost the equivalent to the GDP of Luxembourg, you can’t help but feel they have had their time.
You want those new shoes, and you want them NOW!
It’s not your fault though, advertising is very clever and it always makes us want the things we don’t have. It’s human nature after all.
Like any form of addiction or what I like to call a ‘temporary cover up’, it gives us an immediate high that will soon fade away and leaves us a little empty inside. With shopping this can be known as ‘buyer’s remorse’. You suddenly feel a bit guilty that you have spent so much money on something you don’t really need after all.
Consistently using shopping as a way of alleviating boredom or as a crux to make you feel good can be a sign of potential Oniomania. It’s papering over cracks that you may not even realise you have.
6. Going ‘self-help’ crazy
Lastly I’ve decided to talk about self-help and whether it is all it’s cracked up to be.
I’ve always been pretty aware of the self-help industry and the various realms of personal development and how it’s simultaneously helpful and flawed. On one hand you have to commend anyone who tries to help out others by offering them information and advice but the person on the receiving end should always exercise caution and ask themselves if what they are reading is applicable to them on a personal level.
For example Canadian researchers have discovered that many people with low self-esteem actually felt worse after repeating positive statements about themselves.
It seems that acting positive only works on those people who are already feeling somewhat good about themselves to begin with. That’s helpful isn’t it?
It actually makes a lot of sense because telling yourself that you are a good person won’t make any difference if deep down you believe it isn’t true. Self-help tries to offer solutions to questions that haven’t been asked and in turn a lot of it is incongruent to the needs of the person seeking the advice.
This study also found that allowing negative people to express negative opinions about themselves actually increased their mood. Perhaps by allowing introspection instead of denial, these people could focus on what the underlying cause of what their problems might be.
It’s not what you know, it’s who you know and the better you know yourself, the quicker you can find the answers.
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