Updated: Mar 28
The 'stress self-medication’ vicious cycle is when you rely on alcohol, smoking, caffeine and/or binge eating as a way to cope.
Whilst these behaviours might provide temporary relief, in the long term, these things actually create more problems than they solve - such as disrupted sleep, low levels of energy, less ability to exercise, weight gain, poor health and low mood & self esteem. So whilst having the occasional 'blow-out' is part of life, it's important to stop this turning into damaging habits which are hard to break.
How to take proactive action
If you find yourself in this kind of negative cycle, the trick is to consciously work out how to break the cycle, and then ‘reverse’ it.
The first thing is to proactively deal with any root causes of the underlying stress and so reducing the need to 'self-medicate' in the first place. Then you need to deal with any deep rooted habits that have become part of your daily life.
Most people find that making a concerted effort in one particular area can act as a trigger for reversing the whole cycle. For instance, some people find that starting to exercise more lifts their mood and encourages them to eat and drink more healthily. Others find that tracking what they are drinking or eating can help, whilst others find that activities that increase their happiness will catalyse change.
The key is being comfortable with a process of trial and error, and finding what works for you.
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