Moving beyond Toxic Habits

I used to be a party girl, professional even, at one point in my life. For about 3 years of my young adult life I partied hard 3-5 nights a week. I drank heavily, sometimes smoked, and ate a very high saturated fat diet. My life revolved around the party scene, who I was with, where I was going, and what I was wearing. I knew all the club bouncers, club owners and managers, bartenders, and VIP Girls. Right before I left it all behind me I became a VIP waitress, getting paid to get other people drunk and have a good time. Why did I do this? Because I was self medicating my depression and anxiety.

Deep down inside I didn’t want to face my demons, so I went out and tried to drown my feelings.

Often what ended up happening was blackouts, hangovers that lasted 2 or 3 days, my health began to shut down, and the depression got worse. I found myself knee deep in drama that when I was sober was too much to handle.

I now live a drama-alcohol-party free life and I am constantly feeling my feelings rather than running away from them! My depression and anxiety have calmed down and are much more manageable now. My health has improved dramatically and continues to get better everyday. And above all, I am aligning to my passions and work to fulfill my soul and not just my wallet. How did I stop my toxic behaviors and make a 180 in such a short about of time? Mindfulness.

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Everything we do, every decision we make, is either mindful or mindless. My party life revolved around material wealth, I was a shopaholic, and I spent a lot of money trying to look the part. It was all mindless behavior, because no decision I made was in service to my highest potential nor in service to anyone else’s wellbeing. I hardly ever gave money to charity, hardly ever volunteered for a cause, and hardly ever spoke in a way that was serving wisdom or empowerment. I was completely self absorbed and totally miserable. To get myself out of that world I needed to take steps that would detoxify the mindless mentality I had toward my self and others. I had to step back and look at my life through a different perspective. I offer you these steps as a way to detoxify and make amends with your soul, if you feel you have habits to break. This is what I did to get my life back on track.

  1. Eliminate or cut back on Alcohol

This is especially important if you suffer from any type of depression or mental imbalance. Even if you don’t suffer from anything in particular, you might notice that when you begin to cut back or eliminate your alcohol intake, just how often you relied on drinking to have a good time or relax. You may not realize the effect alcohol has on you until you stop all together. For me this was the most important step toward healthy and mindful living. Realizing how dependent I was on it to help me relax was essential to detoxifying myself from other bad habits and beginning to create new healthier ones. It also allowed me the clarity to begin a new more integrated lifestyle.

2. Identify toxic relationships and distance yourself from them

I didn’t realize before I left the party scene just how many party friends I actually had, at the time I felt they were my “best friends”. When I stopped drinking and stopped partying as much, suddenly I was much more aware of their toxic affect on me and my behavior. I began to disengage from their gravitational pull and as a result I had a lot less drama to deal with and was no longer engaged in behavior that led to more possibly dangerous situations. I began to read more, eat at healthier restaurants, converse with new people, find ways to spend my time and effort in activities that didn’t involve hangovers the next day. At first this seemed very lonely, but I was able to find a new group of friends who gave me the space to find my own way. This can also extend to your job or career, family, and intimate partners. Realizing how other peoples behaviors influence your own is very important, and if those behaviors do not serve your highest self you can begin to distance yourself from them for your well being.

3. Feel your Feelings

This became easier to do once I stopped drowning my sorrows away. When I began to feel strong emotions arising, rather than go shopping or drink, I began to allow myself a good cry or scream or punch a pillow! I allowed the emotions to be there.

I gave myself permission to be sad, angry, annoyed, worried, and so on. This allowed me to figure out what was causing the emotion and find a way to deal with it that wasn’t harmful to my body or mind.

I allowed the feelings to wash over me and began to notice that they always eventually went away. I have a tattoo on my arm that is a variation on the phrase “this too shall pass”,  it serves as a reminder that all emotions are fleeting and can be overcome.

4. Create a self-care routine

For me this was difficult, especially because I didn’t earn a lot of money. However there were many ways I could begin self-care without breaking the bank. First I began to drink more tea, ritualistically every morning. This herbal drink allowed me to take a few moments of the morning to reflect and sit in silence. I also began a yoga and meditation practice, this was possible on a budget through groupon and by doing work for my favorite yoga studio. I also began to Jog around my neighborhood and exercise regularly. I set a time and date every week to work out with my friend, now boyfriend, and this too became ritual. Lastly I read a book every night, something I could do to relax and unwind and most importantly replace the drinking that was making me sick. Other things you can do are crafts, art, volunteering, walking or taking care of pets, hiking, camping, etc.

5. Begin to eat mindfully

This truly sealed the healing for me. Eating mindfully began my practice of self respect, which we are not often told to do! Respecting your health is essential and knowing what you are putting in your body makes all the difference. This is not a “diet” by any means, this is a conscious act of self love and love for the environment. I began to eat organically and reduced my meat intake. I also began to eat with intention, meaning I stopped eating to feed my emotions. As a result I ate less salty and sweet foods, and I ate less often by default. I began to enjoy my food and my tastes began to evolve to richer and more wholesome food. Now I eat a solely plant based diet.

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