Do you have addictions? Suffering from constant cravings? Caffeine, sweets, alcohol, tobacco, overtraining, social media, consumerism and binge eating are all typical addictions found in Singapore’s modern society. And if you are one of these people, we are here to tell you that it’s not your fault.
Why are some people more likely to have addictive behaviours than others?
Addictive behaviours often arise because of unnaturally low levels of dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine (happy brain chemicals) in you. This may cause you to fuel these reward centres artificially rather than, as ancestral genetics had intended, naturally.
Why would you have low levels of these happy brain chemicals? It’s all down to our childhood environment. Let us explain. We need 3 things as a child:
- physical support
- emotional support
- parental attunement
The first two are self-explanatory, getting a big hug from dad is an example of physical support and a mother's unconditional love for her child is an example of emotional support. So what about the third, parental attunement?
What is parental attunement?
Parental attunement, is how the parent engages with the child, particularly between the ages of 0 and 7. For example, if the child is in the middle of a conversation with the parent and the parent looks away to check his phone, the parent is breaking the attunement process. If parents come home stressed from work and don’t engage with their children then, regardless of how much they love them, they are not in attunement. Studies have shown that even though a child can feel physically and emotionally loved at a conscious level, a lack of parental attunement can impair their physical development and emotional development at a subconscious level. Studies on primates have demonstrated that a lack of parental attunement has as much of an impact on the subconscious stress levels of the infant as being physically removed from the presence of the mother. This lack of parental attunement introduces the following permanent physiological changes:
- decreases the amount of dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine available = increased stress
- disrupts the hypothalamic pituitary adrenal (HPA) = increased stress
- disrupts the autonomic CNS (central nervous system) and puts the person in a sympathetic dominant state = increased stress
How can we address these issues of addictions?
So if this sounds like you then, fret not. What can you do about it? How can you boost your happy brain chemicals naturally?
- The right kind of exercise programme (here and here) for you has a great effect on boosting these happy brain chemicals naturally and getting you motivated to take on new healthy habits. The wrong kind of exercise and overtraining can make things worse so be wise!
- Eating good quality organic food and reducing sugar and refined carbs in your diet to force the brain to start producing dopamine naturally. Getting abundant amino acids in your diet that are the essential precursors to happy brain chemicals is also key.
- Boosting your parasympathetic nervous system (your chill out mode) with deep breathing and meditation.
- Getting plenty of sunlight exposure on your chest and back (not popping vitamin D pills - that’s not the same!) to improve your mood and stave off depression.
- Working on any emotional root causes can be key to permanently exorcise negative thoughts and faulty subconscious wiring.
Start with small changes that are easy to implement into your life. Don't be too aggressive. Often the reason why we put off doing something new is because we think we have to do the "massive change" first. We know it's going to take a bunch of willpower, we don't feel quite ready just yet, so we understandably put if off until tomorrow. Change requires energy. Great change requires great energy! If you're ready to go cold turkey on something like alcohol then great but if not don't worry about it, start implementing other smaller healthy lifestyle habits first such as good nutrition and exercise and then as your mental faculties increase in robustness so will your willpower and desire to remove the negative elements from your life. It's a journey, a process and a continuing path to betterment - enjoy the ride!
To your health, happiness and longevity,
The Levitise Team
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