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Archive for the 'Happy Sobriety' Category

Restore Your Energy. Awaken Your Passions. Experience Freedom

Sunday, April 28th, 2019

 

I’m knackered! Are you?

Need a rest. Fed up of the daily grind (It’s non-stop, isn’t it?)
 
Life has gotten you a little fatigued, and you need to feel re-energised, right?
 
We feel rushed all the time. The ol’ waistline keeps expanding, along with the to-do list. But, if we’re being really honest, nothing on that list excites us anymore.
 
If this sounds all too familiar, then we have a very special invitation, just for you…

Register now for The Woman Reinvention Project
 
The Woman Reinvention Project is for those who are ready to have the life they desire



 

Is it time for you to reinvent yourself?

What if I told you there was a way to get exactly what you want out of your life? An easier way to:

  • Go from frazzled to fabulous
  • Get your sexy body back and maintain your perfect shape
  • Reclaim your authentic self as both a woman and mother
  • Re-find your libido & have healthy, satisfying sex (at any age!)
  • Have a more meaningful life, on every level

What if I told you there was a way to create your very own version of a have-it-all life, and you could create that life by doing less, instead of more?
 
Would you be interested in that?
 
Well, lovely, there IS a way, and this opportunity is just a click away.


The Woman Reinvention Project is an online summit that will connect you to the world’s most inspiring speakers over 21 days, from the 6th May – 27th May.


I’m so excited to be catching up again with my good friend, Vesna Hrsto is an Australian – Melbourne based, Naturopath who has made it her mission to reinvent the modern (busy), woman. She’s created this event for smart, driven women, just like you, who want to find more balance and get (so much) more out of life.

If you’ve read my Mid-Life Career Rescue series you’ll have read about Vesna’s amazing story of reinvention—from burned out and depressed to fired up and energized! In Mid-Life Career Rescue she shares her exact career reinvention strategy.

It’s not good enough to have a great career or family, when behind it all you’re rushing around ticking off your to-do list, feeling frustrated, unsatisfied and burnt out.
 
Doing it all, and putting yourself last, is so old! It’s time for a change!

Click here to Register for The Woman Reinvention Project.
 
Vesna has found the top experts on reinvention, and I’m happy to say that I’ve been interviewed.
 
I’ll be sharing the (online) stage with over 21 vibrant leaders – who have been featured on TedX, Oprah Magazine, Cosmopolitan, and more – sharing how to get your inner spark back and have you feeling radiant again.

Oh and did I mention this unique event is entirely FREE? That’s right, you pay nothing, no strings attached. Why? Because we believe every woman should be able to lead her life free of guilt, overwhelm or burn out.
 
But you have to hurry, this special event starts on Monday 6th May, grab your spot here.
 
I’d love you to join me in what promises to be a full 21 days full of rejuvenation, positivity, and inspiration. Take time for yourself to digest this material… you deserve it.


Put the 6th May-27th May 2019 in your diary now, and
register your free spot today:
 
 http://www.thewomanreinventionproject.com

 

Latest from my blog

Here’s a quick round-up of my 3 latest blog posts:

Anxiety Rescue: How Coco Chanel and Leonardo da Vinci Can Help You Overcome Anxiety and Reclaim Youthful Joy

Why ‘No’ is the New ‘Yes’: The All-encompassing Secrets to a Longer, Happier, Healthier Life

Discover Your Burning Desire in Life and Your Work with Cassandra Gaisford

As always, I hope you find something of value in them.

 

Enter & WIN!

Have you enjoyed one or several of my books? Word of mouth is the most powerful marketing force in the universe. If you found my books useful, I’d appreciate you leaving a review on Amazon or Goodreads. You don’t have to say much—just a few words about how the book made you feel or how it helped you learn something new.

I recently received these 5-star reviews on Amazon for my new release, Anxiety Rescue: How to Overcome Anxiety, Panic, and Stress and Reclaim Joy.

“Cassandra explores the nature of anxiety and the effect it has on our physical, emotional, and spiritual self. She draws on much of her research and writings from others of her self-help books. In true Cassandra Gaisford style of practical application – this book is for committed self-helpers.”

Catherine Sloan, Counsellor

“Cassandra’s book is for anyone interested in ending anxiety issues, but also, for those who seek deeper meaning in their lives. Anxiety Rescue covers a range of healing methods and a variety of topics, from self-acceptance to prosperity. It’s a book about total well-being. Cassandra restates the wisdom of Leonardo Da Vinci, Coco Chanel and other important historical and modern-day figures who have much to teach about authenticity and success. An uplifting, informative and inspirational work! I highly recommend Anxiety Rescue.”
 ~ Valeria Teles, author Fit For Joy 

Amazon reviews are really important for independent authors like me to receive—they provide a morale boost and important social proof to people trying to find good resources. 

Vesna and I will be talking about this book and the easy peasy strategies that will help you get your groove back on her Reinvention Summit)

If you would like to grab a copy of Anxiety Rescue Click here – getbook.at/AnxietyRescue

Thank you so much for leaving a review for my books.  I appreciate you!

Send me a screenshot of your review and go in the drawer to win a FREE copy of my newest release:

No! Why ‘No’ is the New ‘Yes’: How to Reclaim Your Life, Shine in the Sun, and Be Authentically You—getbook.at/NoTheNewYesBook

 

Client success story

I can’t tell you David’s real name as that would be breaching his privacy, but I can tell you that I am so stoked for him. He contacted me for help to give up drinking and he’s now two weeks sober. It may not seem like a long time but anyone who has gone from a binge-drinking habit to zero can tell you it’s not easy—especially in a culture that worships alcohol as much as we do here in New Zealand.

Armed with a copy of Mind Your Drink: The Surprising Joy of Sobriety (Control Alcohol, Discover Freedom, Find Happiness and Change Your Life) and sobriety coaching with me, he’s recovered his relationship and found his waistline again!

Mind Your Drink is available in print and eBook from all good bookstores, including:
Amazon: getbook.at/MindYourDrink
Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Nook and iBooks: https://www.books2read.com/u/bQBLj0
Or direct from the author  http://www.cassandragaisford.com/product/mind-your-drink-the-surprising-joy-of-sobriety

 

 

Did you enjoy this post?

You might like:

Anxiety Rescue: How Coco Chanel and Leonardo da Vinci Can Help You Overcome Anxiety and Reclaim Youthful Joy

Why ‘No’ is the New ‘Yes’: The All-encompassing Secrets to a Longer, Happier, Healthier life

Discover Your Burning Desire in Life and Your Work with Cassandra Gaisford

Here are three more things you might like:


Interesting interviews: Listen to my best interviews on topics like overcoming obstacles, finding joy in adversity, following your passion to prosperity.


Online Course: Find Your Passion and Purpose with my best-selling self-paced course made for busy people.


Keynote speaking: Hire me to speak to your organization or team about Resilience, wellbeing, innovation, and motivation.


You can get more of my thoughts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.


For personalized help schedule a session with Cassandra here >>

 

Did you enjoy this article? Subscribe to this blog and sign up for Cassandra’s newsletters to get more stories like this.

Anxiety Rescue: How Coco Chanel and Leonardo da Vinci Can Help You Overcome Anxiety and Reclaim Youthful Joy

Monday, April 8th, 2019

 

Nature gives you the face you have at twenty; it is up to you to merit the face you have at fifty. ~ Coco Chanel

 

 

Like me, Coco Chanel loved to be surrounded by flowers and to spend time walking amongst, or gazing upon, nature to replenish.

“I often found her alone sitting at her dressing table, gazing down into the garden, looking at the chestnut trees,“ recounts Claude Delay, now an imminent psychoanalyst who once knew Coco in her youth.

We all know the physical benefits of nature—being amongst plants and flowers boosts mental well-being. A series of published studies have shown clear links between gardening and positivity.

One study found levels of the stress hormone cortisol in those who gardened were considerably lower those who people who relaxed by reading.

Even the simple act of looking out a window to green space has been linked to reduced stress levels and faster recovery from illness.

“The garden brings stillness,” says Lisa, a marketing executive who says she couldn’t have survived her working life without a garden.

“Touching the soil is one of the most reenergizing things I can do. Everything slows down. My mind works differently. I don’t set out to solve problems but the answers seem to come.  These days if ever I am stressed it will be because I haven’t been in the garden.”

Similarly, Cathy who suffers from anxiety and depression finds solace in a small vegetable garden she started behind her flat.

“When I become immobilized by my anxiety, the garden gives me something achievable to get started on. Gardening is methodical I can go out there and think, ‘What does my garden need?’ It could be as simple as pulling caterpillars off some broccoli. Tuning in to this helps me get more in touch with things outside of myself.”

As I share in my latest book, Anxiety Rescue: How to Overcome Anxiety, Panic, and Stress and Reclaim Joy, I have suffered from social anxiety a great deal of my life. Since my move to a lifestyle property immersing myself in nature has been one of my favorite rescue remedies. Just look at these wee beauties my partner and I grew and harvested this autumn.

 

 

Eating organics, time in nature, meditating daily and doing my best to stress less, are some of the many strategies I share in

 

As Coco said, Nature gives you the face you have at twenty; it is up to you to merit the face you have at fifty. This year I’m turning 54. Last year, when the photo was taken of me flying a with a friend I was 53. I think, all things considered, I do merit the face I have in my 50s. I don’t smoke, rarely drink, don’t take drugs and invest in wellbeing lifestyle strategies daily. I’ve worked hard and continue to work hard to be of service to myself and others—and to be of service to my vege garden.

 

Your Challenge

Experience the healing power of nature. Whether you’re blessed with green fingers or not, it doesn’t matter what you doing—just that you get outside in some green space every day.

Monitor how much time you spend indoors. Schedule regular fresh air time.

Beauty surrounds us, but usually,

we need to be walking in a garden to know it.

~ Rumi, Persian poet

 

My story—living well with anxiety

I’ve experienced some horror work experiences during my life and career—everything from toxic shaming, acute bullying, and being physically threatened. As recently as last year, I experienced the ruthless, underhand, malicious tactics of a narcissistic woman who tried to destroy my career.

Unsurprisingly, all of these experience increased my anxiety levels. Had I not trained to be a therapist and invested so much time and energy in self-care and resilience strategies I’m not sure I could have coped. Many of these strategies, and those that have helped my clients, I share in Anxiety Rescue: How to Overcome Anxiety, Panic, and Stress and Reclaim Joy

For most of my childhood, and well into my adulthood, I suffered from what I now know was social anxiety. For many, many years it remained undiagnosed and untreated.  Were it not for the wise counsel of a psychic when I was in my teens who encouraged me to turn my wounds into healing by training to become a counselor, I may still be suffering silently. Yes, folks, there is such a thing as the ‘helpers high.’ Helping others feels good.

The source of my anxiety can be attributed in part to narcissistic abuse and toxic shaming. Some healers have attributed it to a past-life trauma that I carried forward into this life. They told me that I walk the path of jealousy and that relationships are my greatest challenges, but also my most powerful avenue of healing.

You may not believe in past lives or reincarnation and you do not need to in order to benefit from the help contained within this book and others in the Anxiety Rescue series.

But, in the spirit of authenticity, it feels important to share how I have experienced much healing by journeying into the mystery of mysteries—both the body’s and the soul’s journey. It is for this reason, amongst others that I have devoted a whole section to spiritual health.

I learned later in life, and continue to learn, that healing my family trauma and helping others is my soul purpose in this lifetime.

My purpose can be summed up in one word—love.

To help others love and be loved in return, including self-love and valuing ourselves more than the poisons we may have ingested from people, experiences, circumstances, as we go through this lifetime, is a great joy.

However, it took me many years to find the gift of my anxiety. My hope is that by writing Anxiety Rescue, I may speed up this journey for you.

My anxiety was so bad for most of my teens I tried to drink my way to confidence and numb my anxious feelings with alcohol. In fact, for many years I was so acutely self-conscious I wore green foundation under my makeup to try to hide my blushing face.

People used to call me ‘beetroot’ and laugh at me. I was also mercilessly body shamed during my childhood and teenage years. Honestly, for so much of my life all I wanted to do was hide. Often I didn’t care if I lived or died.

Anxiety will do that to you—until you befriend it and learn what it wants you to know.

When I was planning my wedding in my late twenties,  I wanted a table down the back where no one could see me. Have you ever been to a wedding where the bride wanted to hide?

That’s why, untreated, anxiety is so cruel. It can make us want to stay in the shadows. It can prevent us from standing in the light. Anxiety left unchallenged can deny us from acknowledging our gifts. It can also leave us splintered, in denial or fear or shame, of those aspects of our personality we need to wield from time to time—but have been taught to devalue and deny.

Saying no to denying who we really are and who we truly want to be and showing up, warts and all reduces anxiety. Self-acceptance and integration of the polarities within us—the light and the dark, the fear and the courage, the sadness, and the anger, the anger and the joy, and the other dualities that, unless befriended wage war within, is the road to inner peace.

We’ll dive deeper into the value of integrating shadow work in Anxiety Rescue.

For many years I didn’t live authentically. I tried, somewhat unsuccessfully, to be someone else. I tried to be who others wanted me to be. Sometimes this was an act of self-preservation driven by fear. Often it was a mistaken belief about my value and the value of my gifts.

As I’ve shared in many of my other self-empowerment books, I was once told that I had the soul of an artist. Actively discouraged in childhood, for a long time I’d closed off that side of me. I began my career as a bank teller, then as an accountant, then as a recruitment consultant, followed by more ‘business-minded’ careers.

Each time I went further and further away from who I truly was and the things that gave me joy.

As you’ll discover in Anxiety Rescue, reclaiming joy and living on purpose is a powerful antidote for anxiety. It offers holistic, integrated healing on so many levels—mind, body, and soul.

Recently, in my early fifties, I was been diagnosed with generalized trauma. All I can say is “Wow! What a relief!”

No wonder life has felt such a struggle,

Generalized trauma is similar to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, except that rather than being caused by one traumatic event, it covers a multitude of traumatic events.

Essentially, as Dr. Diane Langberg, Clinical Psychologist and Co-Leader of the Global Trauma Recovery Institute,  says if you suffer generalized trauma you’ve effectively been marinated in trauma from an early age.

Talk about toxicity in the body.

I count myself lucky. Which may surprise you. But as you’ll discover in Anxiety Rescue, when we befriend our anxiety we can find great fulfillment, purpose, and joy.

As the Persian poet and philosopher Rumi once said, “Our wounds are where the light comes in.”

Light, love, kindness, hope—these positive energies provide the healing balm we all need.

My trauma,  my anxiety, and my depression have led me to my Dharma or my purpose in life. My hope is that all that I share in Anxiety Rescue will help you too.

Much love to you

 

 

I hope you enjoyed this wee edited excerpt from Anxiety Rescue: How to Overcome Anxiety, Panic, and Stress and Reclaim Joy.

Midlife can be magic—it’s largely determined by you. We can make midlife a mess or we can invest in creating something truly remarkable. If anxiety, depression, despair or any other cloud of negativity is robbing you of the life you truly want, take heart. There is a cure.

Join me in learning the success strategies of successful men and women throughout time—including two of my favorite muses, Leonardo da Vinci and Coco Chanel.

 

 

Praise for Anxiety Rescue

“Cassandra’s book is for anyone interested in ending anxiety issues, but also, for those who seek deeper meaning in their lives. Anxiety Rescue covers a range of healing methods and a variety of topics, from self-acceptance to prosperity. It’s a book about total well-being. Cassandra restates the wisdom of Leonardo Da Vinci, Coco Chanel and other important historical and modern-day figures who have much to teach about authenticity and success. An uplifting, informative and inspirational work! I highly recommend Anxiety Rescue.”

~ Valeria Teles

Author of Fit For Joy

 

“Cassandra explores the nature of anxiety and the effect it has on our physical, emotional, and spiritual self. She draws on much of her research and writings from others of her self-help books. In true Cassandra Gaisford style of practical application—this book is for committed self-helpers.”

~ Catherine Sloan

Counselor

 

“Lighthearted and uplifting! Anxiety Rescue is a book with a catalog of ideas, intertwined with the historical endeavors of Leonardo da Vinci and Coco Chanel. Learning about these two people while navigating how to rid my life of anxiety was fun and playful. I’m grateful to the author for taking this approach as I feel like I have a path that can easily be followed now. I highly recommend this book!”

~ Chelsea Behrens

Creator of Leading with Authenticity

#1 in Four Categories

 

 

 

This is an edited extract of Anxiety Rescue: How to Overcome Anxiety, Panic, and Stress and Reclaim Joy by Cassandra Gaisford. To order a copy for less than the price of coffee and cake go to Amazon:

US—https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07NKV6K9K

UK—https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07NKV6K9K

or your local Amazon store.

FREE for Subscribers of Kindle Unlimited

Did you enjoy this post?

You might like:

 Destiny Decided: The Minute That Changed My Life—2018 in Review

 My story: how my dark nights of the soul awakened my passion and purpose

How to Develop More Grit and Perseverance – Consult the Oracle

Does talk therapy actually work?

Savvy Sobriety: The new happiness trend you need to know

Spiritual approaches to the treatment of alcohol addiction

 

Did you enjoy this article? Subscribe to this blog and sign up for Cassandra’s newsletters to get more stories like this.

 

Here are three more things you might like:


Interesting interviews: Listen to my best interviews on topics like overcoming obstacles, finding joy in adversity, following your passion to prosperity.


Online Course: Find Your Passion and Purpose with my best-selling self-paced course made for busy people.


Keynote speaking: Hire me to speak to your organization or team about Resilience, wellbeing, innovation, and motivation.You can get more of my thoughts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

 

For personalized help schedule a session with Cassandra here >>

Mind Your Drink—How to become sexier, slimmer, and healthier

Tuesday, February 26th, 2019

 

Me enjoying sobriety at Tisa’s barefoot bar in American Samoa in Feb 2019. Heavenly—and the coconut infused mocktail was divine!

 

Many people mistakenly believe drinking alcohol will increase their happiness. But alcohol is a depressant and in large quantities is draining on your body and mind.

Alcohol has been found in many studies to significantly reduce serotonin 45 minutes after drinking. The sleep rhythms of people who have drunk alcohol the day before are significantly different from control groups who didn’t drink alcohol but very similar to patients with depression.

Numerous studies suggest that low serotonin is the mechanism behind both depression and anxiety after alcohol consumption.

Experience may have already taught you that too much booze increases anxiety, muddles the mind, ignites aggression, reduces responsiveness, and ultimately depresses.

It’s also hard to quit—alcohol is one of the most addictive legal drugs on the planet.

It’s also a well-documented neurotoxin—a toxic substance that inhibits, damages, and destroys the tissues of your nervous system.

To improve their mental health many people limit their drinking or consciously decide not to touch a drop. Keeping their resolve often takes extraordinary willpower.

Author and public speaker Deepak Chopra gave up drinking. “I liked it too much,” he once said. Steven King, after almost losing his family and destroying his writing career, managed to quit.

Other people like Amy Winehouse devastatingly never made it. At only 27, she died of alcohol poisoning in 2011.

The risk of suicide also increases for stressed people who turn to drink. As I’ve already discussed, alcohol abuse and excessive drinking is a major cause of anxiety and depression, impairs mental reasoning and critical thinking—increasing the likelihood of making tragic and often impulsive choices.

There is also clear evidence between alcohol consumption and violence and other types of aggressive behavior. Aggressive behavior is also heavily linked to low serotonin levels. Some experts suggest that aggressive behavior after a period of alcohol may be due to alcohol’s disrupting effects on serotonin metabolism—as little as two standard drinks can ignite anger.

To better understand why people often become aggressive and violent after drinking alcohol, researchers in Australia used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans to measure blood flow in the brain. They noted that after only two drinks, there were changes in the working of the brain’s prefrontal cortex, the part normally involved in tempering a person’s aggressive levels.

Risking ruining your relationships, ruining your career, sacrificing your sanity, and in the extreme, taking your life, is a massive price to pay for a mistaken belief that to be happy, or to numb your anxiety or cope with stress you need to drink more booze.

Boost your resilience beautifully by exploring your relationship to drink and approaching it more mindfully. Consider, a period of sobriety. Instead of focusing on what you may be giving up, turn your mind to what you may gain—a better, more energized version of yourself.

The many benefits of reducing your alcohol intake, or not drinking at all, include:

• A stronger ability to focus on your goals and dreams

• Improved confidence and self-esteem

• Increased productivity

• Increased memory, mental performance, and decision-making

• Better control of your emotions

• Sweeter relationships

• Greater intuition and spiritual intelligence

• Authentic happiness

Your body never lies, but many people soldier on, ignoring the obvious warning signs that it’s time to scale back their drinking or lose the booze.

• Headaches

• Anxiety

• Depression

• Insomnia

• Aggression

• Blackouts

• Low energy and fatigue

• High blood pressure

…are just a few of many signs that it may be time to control alcohol before it controls you.

It’s easy to rationalize these feelings away, but the reality is that your mind, body,  and soul are screaming out for liberation.

Have the courage to say ‘yes’ to pursuing a more energizing alternative.

Your body is a great source of wisdom and counsel—one that is increasingly respected by psychologists and medical professionals. Somatic Psychology, a branch of traditional psychotherapy, addresses what for so long was missing in the field of talk therapy.

Soma is a Greek word meaning “the living body” and is grounded in the belief that not only are thought, emotion and bodily experience inextricably linked (creating a bodymind), but also that change can be brought about in one domain of experience by mindfully accessing another.

You may consider asking your body next time you feel tempted to drink or feel the first flush of alcohol hit your system, “what does this beer (or whatever you are drinking) want me to know?” This may seem weird, but stick with me!

When I tried this recently, my body told me, “This alcohol makes me feel sick. I don’t want it. Don’t drink any more of it.”

My mind, however, was telling me a different and conflicting story as it rattled through a range of old stories and false beliefs.

In this case, as in others, I trusted my body barometer.

Very often people don’t listen to their body barometers until it’s too late and health havoc can set in. Leonardo da Vinci once said that people were more motivated to act by fear than they were by love. I’ll let you decide, but whether the joy of health nirvana or the fear of health havoc rules supreme, as long as you heed the call for change you’ll always win.

Health Nirvana

Controlling alcohol consumption or quitting for good has numerous positive benefits. Everything is interconnected but let’s try to categorize a few of the health benefits you can expect with sobriety:

Physical Health

• Improved liver function and health

• Better sleep

• Better eating habits

• Younger, healthier looking skin, hair, and nails

• Improved vision and clearer eyes

• Weight loss or healthy weight gain

• Increased energy and vitality

• Strengthened immune system, warding off illness and disease

• Lower blood pressure

• Optimal digestive function

 

Mental Health

• Increased mental clarity

• Newfound motivation and determination

• Natural resilience

• Boost self-esteem and confidence

• Greater resilience to stress

• Improved memory

• Clarity

• Heightened intuition

• Heightened brain function

• Improved productivity

• Heightened sensory skills—everything looks, feels, tastes, sounds clearer and brighter

• Heightened willpower

• More truthfulness and honesty

• Long and short-term memory improves

• Aversion to negative thinking

• Improvement of coexisting conditions (anxiety, depression, bipolar, etc.)

• A desire to help others

 

Emotional Health

• Persistent and lasting feelings of joy

• Authentic happiness

• Improved relationships

• The increased joy of looking and feeling healthier and better about yourself

• Increased ability to create lasting, loving relationships

• Improved interactions with people

• Feeling younger

• Feeling empowered, in control and free

• More laughter and spontaneous joy

• An improved general sense of contentment and wellbeing

• Greater self-awareness

• Higher emotional intelligence and ability to self-regulate

• Improved sleep-related benefits

• Increased interest and engagement in new activities, hobbies or learning

• Feelings of freedom, hope, self-worth, and self-empowerment

 

If alcohol is a known cause for more than 60 different adverse health conditions, I’m betting sobriety is a known cause of more than 60 different positive health conditions—maybe even triple that. But finding data to back me up is hard to find. It seems more money is poured into measuring harm than keeping statistics related to health.

Keep your own stats and set yourself up to succeed. To support and maintain your sobriety, really absorb all the benefits.  Enjoy the anticipated positive results of sobriety at the start of your day, in the evening, or whenever you have a spare moment.

When you are sober, be sure to be mindful and really enjoy the results of your efforts. For example, as I write this chapter,  notice I’m feeling energized, clear-headed, purposeful, and excited. I have the youthful expectant energy of a child. I feel a sense of self-worth with all that I have achieved today. I think I may take a wee break now, reward myself and go out and play!

I also draw my attention to how much I appreciate and value my improved relationship with my partner and my mother, and I love, love, love that I’m a positive influence on my 26-year-old daughter who has chosen to go alcohol-free and is not only loving it but is positively influencing all her friends. Her anxiety has disappeared and she is glowing.

I have way more self-belief and am both less critical of others and myself, and no longer hypersensitive to others barbs and attacks when I don’t drink.

Did drinking less alcohol do all that? Not entirely. As I said earlier, controlling alcohol requires a systemic approach and making lifestyle changes both in health behaviors and other factors which I discuss throughout my sobriety books, Mind Your Drink and Your Beautiful Mind.

Putting the spotlight on the harm alcohol caused me, my family, my loved ones, within my community and the world at large also drives me. Negatives can be positives when seen in the right light and used constructively.

I no longer feel like the booze hag who once wrote this:

“Pretty much four months after I decided to say no to booze, but the little bugger has slipped into my psyche again. Last night and the night before I had two vodkas and orange—freshly squeezed. 4pm-ish. I watched myself, observed myself. The knowledge that I was tired, weary, that I needed to meditate.

But I wanted that quick fix.

That nice little forgetting of alcohol. But who’s paying now? 12:15 A.M. and I’m wide awake. I haven’t woken like this in months. I don’t feel flash either. Yesterday I was excited about my book Flight of Passion—now I feel like it’s crap. It’s the depressing booze, my head aches, my throat and chest burns.”

 

Instead, in my journal ‘sober me’ wrote:

Hello Sunday Morning! I’m so grateful for John’s drunkenness last night. It’s strengthened my resolve. I want nothing to with the poison of drink—unless it’s with a refined meal or a celebration. I’ve woken up clear-headed, clear-hearted, my energy bright, looking forward to the day.

“When you are full of food and drink an ugly statue sits where your spirit should be.” ~ Rumi

Even if people think it’s no big deal to drink a glass of wine at dinner it’s important to know your body’s reaction to alcohol and not just go along with the crowd.

I’d forgotten my assignment on spiritual approaches to the treatment of alcohol addiction. I must revisit it.

A blackbird rustles amongst Autumn leaves. John is at his desk. The door is shut. I walk past the front window. “Would you like an orange juice?”

No, he wouldn’t.

His eyes are dead, remorseful—as though regretting his foolishness. His skin is gray, pallid, like that of a dying man.

Rumi is right….an ugly statue sits where his spirit should be.

Even the Romans once ate and drank from a lead cup. Poison in poison.

 

You’ll find plenty of yummy, sexy, and sober recipes in Mind Over Mojitos: How Moderating Your Drinking Can Change Your Life—Easy Alcohol-Free Recipes for Happier Hours & a Joy Filled Life

 

Health Havoc

When you pollute your body with alcohol, a known carcinogen, and neurotoxin, it’s going to play havoc with your health. Big time. Perhaps not today, not tomorrow, but it will happen, and when it does, I doubt you’ll be happy about it.

You may even swear and curse your stupidity, as my step-father did when he was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer, “You bloody stupid fool,” he said, sadly and stoically accepting his fate when told he had a month to live. Having enjoyed smoking for many years, I know he would have done anything to undo the wrongs of the past.

Alcohol, as I have said, is a known cause for more than 60 different adverse health conditions, listed below are just a few:

 

Physical Health

• Carcinogenic—causes cancer in living tissue. Strong links between cancers of the liver, breast, bowel, upper throat, mouth, esophagus and larynx

• Negatively affects brain development in young people

• Depresses your entire nervous system

• Compromises your immune system, making you less resistant to illness and disease

• Interferes with the body’s ability to absorb calcium, resulting in bones that are weaker, softer, and more brittle

• Kills cells and disrupts cellular metabolic processes

• Distorts your eyesight, making it difficult to adjust to the differing light and compromising clarity

• Diminishes your ability to distinguish between sounds and perceive their direction

• Slurs your speech

• Dulls your sense of taste and smell

• Damages the lining of your throat

• Weakens your muscles

• Inhibits the production of white and red blood cells

• Destroys your stomach lining

• Poisons you and can cause death

• Disrupts your sleep cycle, reduces rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, creates insomnia

• Suppresses breathing and can precipitate sleep apnea

• Increases weight or causes unhealthy weight loss

• Strips your body of vital nutrients and causes malnutrition

• Increases the likelihood of indulging in risky, unsafe and unlawful behaviors

• Heightens suicidal thoughts

 

Mental Health

• Causes anxiety and depression and other mental disorders

• Lowers the levels of serotonin in your brain—a chemical that helps to regulate your mood

• Destroys your brain cells

• Increases suicidal tendencies

• Negatively impacts memory

• Causes permanent damage to your brain

• Alters your brain chemistry

• Escalates aggression

• Increases stress levels

• Triggers dormant mental illnesses (bi-polar etc.)

• Disruptions in REM sleep may cause daytime drowsiness, poor concentration, and low mood

• Depletes willpower

 

Emotional Health

• Undermines your self-esteem and self-respect

• Depletes your courage, confidence

• Undermines your relationships with your partner, family, and friends

• Contributes to depression

• Reduces self-control

• Increases the difficulty in maintaining healthy relationships, including with bosses, co-workers and, clients

• Creates financial strain, leading to more stress, worry any and anxiety

 

And that just a few ways that alcohol can play havoc with your health. The increased risk of developing arthritis, cancer, heart disease, hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia, kidney disease, obesity, nervous disorders, and many psychological disturbances can all be attributed to alcohol abuse. And as you know, acute alcohol poisoning can cause death.

Find out more about short and long-term effects that drinking alcohol has on many different parts of your body here—https://www.alcohol.org.nz/alcohol-its-effects/body-effects.

Your mind and body may seem like separate entities but when you let your body override your craving mind you find a reservoir of unbridled power. Your body barometer never lies, and as we’ve seen, can save your life by expelling toxins from your system.

 

When you drink alcohol or feel hung over what do you notice? How does this differ from times when you feel sober?

If you fall off the wagon and start drinking again don’t be too hard on your beautiful self. Practice mindfulness and self-compassion and tune into your body barometer.

How do you feel? Have the headaches, nausea, depression, aggression or anxiety returned again?

Journal your experience as I did to reinforce your awareness and to strengthen your resolve to stop drinking again.

You’ll find helpful sobriety journalling tips in my book, The Sobriety Journal: The Easy Way to Stop Drinking: The Effortless Path to Being Happy, Healthy and Motivated Without Alcoholgetbook.at/SobrietyJournal

 

The Path to Sobriety

In my books Mind Your Drink and Your Beautiful Mind, I break down the path to sobriety in ways you can easily understand and apply to your own life.

Knowledge is power. Ultimately long-term success in winning the war on alcohol can be explained through medical science and psychology—and understanding the psychological warfare tactics of the world’s best marketers. You do realize that the booze barons act narcissistically to encourage you to act against your best interests, right?

Understanding alcohol from all angles offers substantive reasons for why it keeps you hooked.

Importantly, what I’d love you to take away from reading this book, and those focused on controlling alcohol is that there is no one path to sobriety. You may or may not be able to go it alone, you may need help, you may need therapy, but regardless of the approach you take, controlling alcohol is a long-term lifestyle change.

Very often, as I’ve said, it may mean spotlighting and healing the wounds of your past.

In my books Mind Your Drink and Your Beautiful Mind comedian and former addict Russel Brand shares his story of childhood sexual abuse in his book Recovery: Freedom From Our Addictions. In his book, he reinterprets The Twelve Step recovery process and champions the call for abstinence.

Similarly, Duff McKagan, the former bass guitarist of Guns N’ Roses and one of the world’s greatest rock musicians, shares how he used alcohol to self-medicate his agonizing anxiety. The origin of his pain he says stemmed from being asked to lie to his mother about his father’s affairs, their subsequent divorce, and his father’s own heavy drinking.

McKagan devised his own program of anxiety treatment and alcohol recovery. Read the inspiring story of a man who partied so hard he nearly died, in his book It’s So Easy and Other Lies.

Anne Dowsett Johnson, a journalist and self-described recovering alcoholic, and the daughter of an alcoholic herself, urges us all to wake up to the willful blindness to the damages of drinking in our culture, and explores disturbing trends and false promises peddled by alcohol barons in her book Drink: The Intimate Relationship Between Women and Alcohol. For Dowsett, medical intervention through prescribed anti-depressants played an instrumental role in her recovery.

AA’s 12-step approach didn’t work for stressed entrepreneur Russ Parry. But years of therapy, couple counseling, renewing his faith and a program of recovery offered by his church did—alongside changing his relationship to work. He shares his journey to abstinence in his book, The Sober Entrepreneur.

These are just some of the many people and books I have come to admire as I embarked on my own journey to understand why I once drank so much and why I couldn’t stop.

For these people, sharing their stories was part of their healing process—that and the desire to pay-it-forward. In my book, Employ Yourself from my bestselling Mid-Life Career Rescue series, I share how health coach Sheree Clark numbed her anxiety, stress and job blues by over-drinking until she realized booze was never going to be a long-term sustainable solution.

She’s sold her business and created a new career as a healthy living coach. She still enjoys a drink—but that since her career change that she couldn’t be happier or healthier.

As the former addict and leading neuroscientist Marc Lewis writes in this book, The Biology of Desire: Why Addiction is Not a Disease, alcoholism, and addiction “can spring up in anyone’s backyard. It attacks our politicians, our entertainers, our relatives, and often ourselves. It’s become ubiquitous, expectable, like air pollution and cancer.”

Shaming, blaming and naming is not the cure, compassion understanding, and living life on your terms is.

As Lewis also notes, “Many experts highlight the value of empowerment for overcoming addiction. In fact, most former addicts claim that empowerment, not powerlessness, was essential to them, especially in the latter stages of their recovery. Sensitivity to the meaning of empowerment in recovery may be greatest for those who’ve been disempowered in their social world, including women, minorities, the poor, and those with devastating family histories.”

Abusing alcohol is not a disease. It’s a coping strategy—one, before reading this book, you may not have been aware of.

As you read this book, you’ll reclaim your power and decide whether alcohol has anything positive to contribute to your life at all, or whether you’d be better off putting your money, your energy, your time, your happiness and your health into something, or someone, who’s a less abusive lover.  Yes, you will decide—it’s that simple, and at times, that difficult.

Not everyone battles with booze. Whether you cut back or eliminate alcohol entirely, the choice is ultimately yours. Only you know the benefits alcohol delivers or the success it destroys.

You may enjoy reading my blog post on spiritual approaches to the treatment of alcohol addiction—http://www.cassandragaisford.com/spiritual-approaches-to-the-treatment-of-alcohol-addiction/

If you’d like to experiment with a period of sobriety or you need help to you moderate your drinking, Mind Your Drink: The Surprising Joy of Sobriety, available as a paperback and eBook will help.  You can also find a range of books and resources offering help to quit, including alcohol-free alternatives on my website—http://www.cassandragaisford.com/books-and-resources/control-alcohol/

 

My daughter, Hannah, and her fab partner Josh, enjoying alcohol-free wine at Christmas.

 

 

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Discover the joy of sobriety. Listen to Cassandra’s interview with Melinda Hammond—https://writerontheroad.com/128-name-poison-writers-alcohol-creative-muse-cassandra-gaisford/

Discover the joy of a sober Christmas: How to enjoy the festive season sober

Tuesday, December 25th, 2018


It’s amazing how many people have told me they just couldn’t do a booze-free celebration—especially at Christmas.

Like Carol who told me she wasn’t looking forward to spending time with her extended family. “As soon as we arrive my nephew hands me a joint and fills my glass of bubbles and keeps it topped up so we can all get on.”

But when I share my story of our lovely alcohol-free Christmas and booze-free alternatives some people are genuinely inspired to give it a go.

The other day, while we were walking back from the supermarket carrying a bottle of alcohol-free wine, a middle-aged man stopped us. He told us that he had been drinking since 10:30 in the morning and wished he could stop because he was tired of “waking up depressed and hung over”.

He looked genuinely enthusiastic about trying the alcohol-free wine that we recommended and went away saying, “May God bless you… you have changed my life.”

That my friends is one of the joys of sobriety… inspiring others. The photo above is a wee shot of our very simple pre-Christmas fare, along with a wonderful bottle of Edenvale, alcohol-free wine. And below a wee video I shot of my daughter and her partner celebrating alcohol-free bubbles this Christmas—further proof of the joy of sobriety.

 

 

 

Here are a few tips to help you discover the joy of a sober Christmas—or any other celebration for that matter:

 

What’s your why?

If you’re going to go to sober and want to succeed you’ll need a powerful reason why. Why would you want to do Christmas booze-free? To wake up hangover-free on boxing day and the days that follow? To feel happier, less depressed. To achieve health goals? To rebuild a drowning relationship? To be a role model to others? To feel a sense of control… or just because you’d like to experience what all these teetotallers are raving about.

Perhaps you can relate to Tania Glyde’s story which was published in an article by The Independent.

“When I was growing up, the only way to get through Christmas was to keep drinking slowly, throughout the day…One of my worst Christmases ever was at the end of 1995. I’d had an unusually difficult year, with ill health and unemployment and drugs and fair-weather friends, all of which, strangely, eclipsed the fact that I’d also had my first novel published. I’d been hanging out with a well-heeled west-London crowd, obsessed with appearances and fluffed up with cocaine. I’d been seeing the gang’s resident sociopath. It was one of those non-affairs that keeps trickling on, and all you do is rant about it to your friends, and makes you very glad when your twenties are over and you’ve grown up a bit. As the festive season approached, someone’s pal came blasting in from the past, a notorious man-grabber. I should have seen it coming and left the self-serving pair to their own devices but, alas, one tinselly night, the vodka spoke for me. I opened my big mouth, threatened god knows what, had a crying jag when I found her jacket at his flat, and the whole thing turned into “A Drama”, resulting in me being ostracised from the crowd for months. It really was the last straw.”

 

My ‘why’ is multi-faceted. As I share in my book, Mind Your Drink: The Surprising Joy of Sobriety (Control Alcohol, Discover Freedom, Find Happiness and Change Your Life.

 

My grandmother was an alcoholic, her father was too—and both their stories, like many people affected by alcohol, was one of tragedy.

In the 1930’s a drunken brawl outside the local pub in New Zealand left one man dead and my great-grandfather charged with murder.

My grandmother was four, and her brother aged six when they were taken into foster care. They never saw their mother, father, or each other again.

I’ve always wondered had it not been for the trauma Molly experienced as a child, and throughout her life, would she have sought happiness in a bottle?

The tragedy didn’t end there. Years later her brother, then in his 30s and married with three children, took his life.

Recently, at the time of writing, my mother shared how her childhood was scarred. “Mum was always drinking. We would come home and she would be in bed. I don’t recall her ever not being drunk.”

Their story, my story, your story is a far too common one.

“My step-father was an alcoholic and I lived through rough times with alcohol,” a reader shared with me as I wrote this book.

“I hope your book does help many people. I personally believe a book like this would not have helped my dad. Only complete removal of alcohol would have helped. Just my opinion that you cannot control alcohol. You must remove it,” he added. “I do hope your book does help many lives that are affected by alcohol though.”

Hope, as you read through this book, is an important element of any recovery—as is a desire for change.

 

Increasingly my ‘why’ also includes health and wellness goals. Booze barons do such a great job of disguising alcohol that many people don’t know what it really is. Alcohol is ethanol, also known as ethyl alcohol or grain alcohol, and is a flammable, colorless chemical compound. It’s a poison and well-documented cause for a concerning array of cancers and diseases and mental illnesses—including anxiety and depression.

Melinda Hammond’s passion is helping people tell their stories and bringing in experts to help the listeners of her podcast, Writer on The Road, do just that. in 2018 I had the great pleasure of sharing my story behind the passion and purpose of choosing sobriety and writing books to help support and cheerlead others.

Listen to my interview with Melinda Hammond, “Name Your Poison: Writers, Alcohol & The Creative Muse, with Cassandra Gaisford. Discover the joy of sobriety” —https://writerontheroad.com/128-name-poison-writers-alcohol-creative-muse-cassandra-gaisford/.

You don’t have to be a writer to enjoy this informative and game-changing chat.

 

Sober companions

We are social animals which means that it’s a lot easier to engage in healthy and sober practices when you are surrounded by other like-minded people.

You may be surprised how many others may want to wish to join you on your sobriety challenge, or how many others are already teetotallers or wanting to reduce considerably.

An article and video published recently by the BBC says sobriety has become mainstream—it’s no longer a losers game but the winners choice for increased health, wealth, and happiness. I talk more about the benefits and life-changing magic of sobriety and provide tips to control alcohol in my book, Mind Your Drink: The Surprising Joy of Sobriety (Control Alcohol, Discover Freedom, Find Happiness and Change Your Life.

Encouragingly, bars, nightclubs, and alcohol companies are responding to the massive sobriety movement which is rapidly growing in strength around the world – motivated by choice, health, and authentic joy… and in some cases, profit. Yes, folks as I’ve said, there is wealth in health!

However, committing to sobriety doesn’t mean that you can’t be amongst other drinking people. While being surrounded by drinkers, especially drunks, doesn’t make it easier, especially in the early days, it is a good test of your conviction, will, and commitment to sobriety.

Several years ago when I first decided to stop drinking for a period I spent Christmas and the new year staying at a resort in Fiji. Both my partner and I committed to sobriety. The place was dripping with alcohol and heaving with aggressive marketing promotions of “happy” buckets of beers and other alcohol-laden beverages. These were at reduced prices – making them cheaper than fruit juices or water.

What made it easy to remain alcohol-free was, along with reminding myself why I had made the decision, noticing how drunk everyone was getting also helped.

It also made it easier because I felt fantastic and my partner and I certainly noticed a difference when it came to pay our “bar” bill. Where some people received a shock at how quickly their booze bill added up to $thousands, our cheap alcohol-free mocktails were easy on the pocket.

You don’t have to make a big drama about not drinking alcohol. Many times you can blend in quite simply by having a Coca-Cola in a short “spirit” glass, or drinking soda and lime or alcohol-free wine in a fancy wine glass, or enjoying a mocktail.

Being with family

Many people drink just to survive reunions with the family. Let’s face it, not everyone finds it easy to get along and a lot of childhood wounds can be reactivated when everyone gets together. Add alcohol and you add pure fire. So many people don’t appreciate how easily alcohol fuels aggression.

Horrifically, domestic violence crimes soars, child assault, and other crimes are highest during what is marketed as the festive season.

Get yourself in the right mindset or avoid family and Christmas altogether – as my partner and I did several years ago following a particularly stressful time. Instead, we traveled to the beautiful island of Taveuni in the tropical paradise of Fiji. Our family threatened never to speak to us again. But guess what—they did. And in many ways, we have set the tone for following Christmases which are considerably laden with guilt and resentment. Now as a family we actually choose to come together. If someone wants to do something else, with someone else that’s fine too.

No one says you have to spend Christmas together. If you’re not feeling happy about spending time together, and the only way to survive feels like numbing or buoying yourself with alcohol don’t do it. Instead make a happier, healthier choice.

If you do decide to spend time with family and you know people will be drinking, definitely avoid alcohol. During challenging times like these myself, I found it easier to sometimes retreat to a quiet room and give myself a few minutes break or longer to fortify myself, to pray for help to get through the day without getting frustrated, snappy or picked on and provoked. Sometimes, I’ve simply gone for a walk.

Affirmations and other self-soothing strategies can also help get you in the sobriety mindset mic set. Or follow a maxim of the writing world which is often dispensed by masters of creating wonderful scenes, “get in late and leave early.” Don’t overstay your welcome.

Know your triggers

Do you know why you drink? Is it because an expensive bottle of champagne is thrust upon you by a grateful client or ardent admirer. Would it feel rude or reckless to refuse? Is it because everybody else is getting plastered and you feel left out? Is it because there’s nothing else to drink other than a carton or pithy orange juice?

Forewarned is forarmed. This may include having some alcohol free alternatives on hand, meditating or indulging in other ways to relax so you’re not feeling super stressed. It may mean driving a different way to avoid your local liquor store or sending someone else into the supermarket. Or,  as I’ve already discussed, it might mean giving Christmas a miss.

Or you may, as we did this year, celebrate early when there is less pressure, or keeping it low key—as my daughter and her partner and I did this year by doing Christmas sober over whitebait fritters. No panic shopping, no overcooking, no stress.

I share more tips to help you name and avoid your triggers and remain alcohol-free in my book, Mind Your Drink: The Surprising Joy of Sobriety (Control Alcohol, Discover Freedom, Find Happiness and Change Your Life.

Make time for joy

So often people are stressing about Christmas, stressing about buying gifts are exchanging the ones that got, feeding everyone entertaining everyone and it’s really easy to fit it about making time for yourself and things that spark joy

Do something that gets yourself a natural high whether it’s body surfing on the beach, engaging in a long lost her baby, well known in a new one, joy is the perfect antidote to stress and a proven sobriety strategy.

Authentic joy, rather than drunk delirium, has phenomenal energy and incredible versatility. In The Book of Joy the Dalai Lama shares that Paul Ekman, a longtime friend, and famed emotions researcher, has written that joy is associated with feelings as varied as:

• Pleasure (of the five senses)

• Amusement (from a chuckle to a belly laugh)

• Contentment (a calmer kind of satisfaction)

• Excitement (in response to novelty or challenge)

• Relief (following upon another emotion, such as fear, anxiety, and even pleasure)

• Wonder (before something astonishing and admirable)

• Ecstasy or bliss (transporting us outside ourselves)

• Exultation (at having accomplished a difficult or daring task)

• Radiant pride (when our children earn a special honor)

• Elevation (from having witnessed an act of kindness, generosity, or compassion)

• Gratitude (the appreciation of a selfless act of which one is the beneficiary)

Buddhist scholar and former scientist Matthieu Ricard has added three other more exalted states of joy: rejoicing (in someone else’s happiness, what Buddhists call mudita), delight or enchantment (a shining kind of contentment) and spiritual radiance (a serene joy born from deep well-being and benevolence).

When you tap into your joy, you tap into an unlimited reservoir of energy and enthusiasm.

The French take it further—of course! Jouissance, literally means orgasmic joy. It’s derived from the word from jouir (“to enjoy”). Jouissance is to enjoy something a lot!

Find joy in whatever is present in your life today.

Encourage yourself, challenge any mistaken assumptions that finding joy is not possible for you, and boost your belief by collecting examples of people who followed their joy and made a rewarding career, enriched their lives and stayed sober. Collette Baron-Reid is just one of many inspiring examples…oh, and when I follow my joy I inspire myself!

 

Nurture yourself

Christmas falls at the end of the year and everybody is pretty fatigued so be sure to make plenty of time to rest, sleep and nurture yourself. Importantly, let go of the guilt. Lounge around in your bed if you feel like it, take yourself offline for a staycation at home, Or escape the routine somewhere you can be free of all your “to-do list.”

Lie in, read a book, close the door on the world, detox from social media and do whatever it takes to give yourself a break so you can emerge into the new year and relaxed and reinspired.

You’ll find more tips to help you rest and nurture yourself in my post, Sleep More, Drink Less: How to Quit or Moderate Alcohol and Cure Insomnia—http://www.cassandragaisford.com/sleep-more-drink-less-how-to-cure-insomnia/

Commit to a brand new year in 2019. This may mean embracing the joy of therapy and finally releasing yourself of all the wounds and triggers that may have driven you to drink.

As my daughter so sagely said,

“The thing that not drinking for the last 11 months has given me is the space to have nowhere to run from the shit that I was needing to work through. Now when I have a glass it feels lighter because I’m not using it for that purpose. I’m not hiding from anything.”

This year my mom also shared with me things that happened in my childhood that I had completely forgotten or rather my mind had erased as part of my survival strategy. She also shared her upbringing and childhood memories of her mother’s drinking and alcoholism and the violence in her home.

As Wayne Dyer once said, “A woman who heals herself heals her mother, heals her daughter, and heals every woman around her.”

 

Here, enjoying an alcohol-free Christmas is my daughter Hannah Joy and her beautiful partner Josh.

 

This is an edited extract of Cassandra Gaisford’s new book Mind Your Drink: The Surprising Joy of Sobriety (Control Alcohol, Discover Freedom, Find Happiness and Change Your Life), available in print and eBook from all good bookstores, including:Amazon: getbook.at/MindYourDrink

 

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could you do Christmas sober?

Thursday, November 22nd, 2018

The holiday season is meant to be a time of family togetherness filled with joy and peace.

But the reality is what we see in our communities, read about in the newspapers, and witness on television is the opposite.  Many people experience a flare-up of anxiety, stress, depression, and guilt, others are victims of domestic violence, and innocent people are impacted by others booze-fuelled antics.

To make matters worse, the most common way people deal with the stress is by emotional drinking, bingeing and in many cases using alcohol and other substances just to survive.

We all know the harm excessive alcohol consumption does to families—child assault, fractured relationships, financial stress, aggression, murders of loved ones, drunk driving leading to death or disablement. ..and these are just some of the “avoidable” effects of our drunk culture. And then, of course, there’s a possible stint in prison.
 I know how stressful Christmas can be, but trust me when I say, alcohol is not the road to happiness. I hate to see you get derailed on your wellness, health and weight goals but what I hate to see even more is the guilt it can bring and the self-loathing and self-doubt that comes with it.

Could you do Christmas sober?

Would it be easier for you to control your alcohol consumption if it wasn’t so readily available? What if it wasn’t shoved in your face every time you walked down the street or went shopping for groceries? Many people say, ‘yes’ but they feel powerless to stop the spread of alcohol in their lives and communities.

“A lot of people are deeply dissatisfied by the diminishing control they have over their lives, because of the way our system of government is set up, to cater to the powerful, cater to the wealthy, cater to the corporations, and not to the individual citizen,” says activist Josh Fox.

Do you know how much money litigious alcohol lobbyists spend each year trying to convince governments and local bodies to relax attempts at alcohol restraint? Where one party is motivated by protecting people from avoidable harm and creating safer communities, the other appears to be motivated purely by sales-driven, self-serving profit.

Let me be clear, I’m not against alcohol companies per se, and I don’t believe a nice drink now and then is an abhorrent evil. What does get my back up is underhand tactics, misinformation, and self-interest at the expense of others. That, and not sticking around to mop up the harm.

According to figures published by the Center for Responsive Politics in 2017, the total lobbying expenditures in the US for Beer, Wine & Liquor was a staggering USD $22,607,510—and this is just the money that was reported.

Incentives and kickbacks to aid and abet favorable practices abound in many industries whose primary goal is to maximize profits and returns to shareholders.

The owner of our local liquor store, for example, was rewarded for selling the highest volume of 1125ml bottles of rum with an all expenses paid trip to Jamacia. That’s quite a juicy incentive to up the volume of sales.

Many booze barons and the companies they create operate similarly to banks—fair weather friends while you’re spending but less than benevolent when you’re drowning in debt or reeling under the impact of alcohol-fuelled harm.

 

Here are just a few things that alcohol lobbyists strongly oppose:

• Advertising and promotion constraints

• Alcohol control—including raising the legal age for drinking

• Increases in product-specific taxes (designed to offset harm or reduce consumption)

 

Let me give you several home-grown examples of how lobbyists can exert their influence.

In 1999 the legal purchasing age in New Zealand was lowered from 20 to 18. Despite several calls for legislation against the change, and repeated attempts to raise the drinking age again, it’s proven easier to reduce the drinking age than it has to raise it.

Lawmakers continually and overwhelmingly support the status quo and, despite the increasing scale of harm, the legal drinking age remains 18. MPs, swayed by lobbyists successfully argued “If we say to people that you can vote, you can marry, you can fight for your country and you can die, then logically you shouldn’t say to them you shouldn’t drink in a public bar.”

Compelling logic if one accepts that teenagers should go to war, and ignores the issue that alcohol is a highly addictive drug.

Phil Goff, the Labor justice spokesman at the time of the changes, vehemently argued for a tightening of the 20-year age limit, citing overseas evidence linking increased road deaths to lower ages, and also citing public opinion polls that were against a lower age.

But the research was rejected as not relevant to New Zealand.

Māori Pacific MP Tukoroirangi Morgan said he had seen on marae and hui the results of young people drinking and driving.

“It would be a tragedy if this House was to say yes we will lower the age to 18. You may as well go and shoot 75 young Maori,” he said.

Almost a decade on and the concerns of Morgan and other opponents of lowering the drinking age are well-justified. Along with alcohol-related deaths from drunk driving, domestic violence assaults resulting in death, 2012 statistics reveal 119 Māori deaths from suicide—accounting for 21.6 percent of all suicide deaths in that year. Alcohol is said to have been a contributing factor in many of these tragically avoidable deaths.

Add to these sobering statistics the appalling and imbalanced incarceration rates and you’ll quickly appreciate the escalating harm caused by alcohol. In New Zealand, Māori make up only 14.6 percent of Zealand’s population, but a staggering 51 percent of its prison population.

Prominent businessman Gareth Morgan wants to see the age limit raised. “It was lowered in 1999 to appease the alcohol lobby, and we were promised at the time that if evidence showed harm went up after the change they would reverse it,” Morgan said, in an article in Fairfax Media.

“All of the evidence, all of the reports, have pointed unambiguously to harm going up.”

Research also shows the lowering of the age had resulted in the “de facto” drinking age falling to between 14 and 17.

“The data is showing us that in secondary schools six out of ten students are drinking. Nearly half of them consume more than five drinks in each session. And one in five is saying their aim is to get drunk. That’s where the problem is,” Morgan said.

In another example, official papers published by Fairfax New Zealand revealed that in 2012, former New Zealand Justice Minister Judith Collins met liquor industry lobbyists repeatedly in the weeks before the Government’s controversial U-turn on measures to restrict sales of alcopops.

The documents, released under the Official Information Act and published in 2012, reveal the extent of the pressure exerted by the industry, including a joint letter to former National Prime Minister John Key warning him his Government was about to “make a very serious and highly public mistake”.

The industry hinted that legal action was possible if the crackdown went ahead.

In late August of 2012, the Government backed away from its plan to ban from off-licenses the sale of RTDs (ready-to-drinks) with more than 6 percent alcohol.

Not only are RTDs stronger and cheaper than other forms of alcohol, but they’re sweeter (therefore masking the task of alcohol) and easier to consume.

Instead, the Government gave the industry the right to draw up its own RTD code of conduct.

Really? The alcohol industry regulating itself to reduce harm? Until there are disincentives for them to keep increasing the volumes of alcohol consumed, such as an about-turn in public opinion, it is highly unlikely they will regulate against their own interests. Until then, what possible motivation would they have to scale back their reach?

In the following chapter, you’ll discover how alcohol companies profited from the sale of RTD’s to society’s most vulnerable—including children as young as 12.

Collins, in announcing the backdown, said, “Frankly, I think we can stop treating everyone as though they’re fools and can’t make decisions for themselves. It was a bit too much taking away people’s responsibility. About 80 percent of New Zealanders drink extremely responsibly.”

This sounds like the same ineffective logic applied to the sugar barons.

Unsurprisingly the sugar barons are also powerful lobbyists—ones not beyond using a raft of diversion tactics. For example, during the ’50s, when colas and junk food begin to gain traction, the US sugar lobby managed to divert the onus for children’s’ obesity onto dairy products, while their flunkeys invented a narrative about cholesterol and harmful fats.

By saying that people who can’t control alcohol are ‘fools’ and should be able to make informed choices, Collins may as well be saying that people should be left alone to decide whether to wear a seatbelt in a car or a safety helmet while riding a bike on the road. Statistics reveal that lives are saved, and harm reduced, when laws are introduced to help people to help themselves.

One may well ask where are the booze-barons when people are shelling out a fortune for rehab? Where are they when people are so sick they cannot work? Who picks up the tab when a beloved mother, father, son, daughter or friend dies of alcohol poisoning, alcohol-related cancer, or at the hands of a drunk driver?

Equity, Fairness, and Justice—Let’s Level The Field

Do these booze barons pay an equitable share of tax? Are the costs of social harm factored into ongoing costs to individuals, families, and communities?

Who, for example, is going to pay for the childcare costs, mortgage payments and healing of the psychological trauma inflicted on Abdul Raheem Fahad Syed’s wife and child? This innocent man, a beloved father, and husband was working to provide for his family when he was killed in a horror smash by a drunk ‘joy-riding’ teen just before Christmas in 2017.

Who will pay the hundreds of thousands of dollars of judicial and penitentiary costs when the 20-year-old drunk, driving an expensive late-model BMW is sentenced? The Government—and by default law-abiding taxpayers? Why?

And why is the driver charged with careless driving? Why not murder? We all know the dangers and risks of driving drunk.

I’m being provocative, I know. But I’m sick of feeling afraid and worried when I drive at night that I might become the next victim of a marauding drunk. And I’m sick of my tax dollars being spent so needlessly.

I’m not alone. In the following chapter, you’ll discover research conducted by the University of Western Australia in 2016, summarizing the revenues generated by excise taxes, and questioning the fair, or rather citing the unfair allocation of the burden of harm.

 

Nobody’s  Fool

Mindful or conscious drinking is not only being aware of why you drink, how much you drink, and how to regulate or control your drinking—but also becoming aware of the powerful economic forces lobbied at encouraging you to drink more, and disempowering individuals from making rational, positive choices.

Mindful drinking is also a commitment to refusing to remain blissfully ignorant and becoming aware of the horrific and escalating costs of alcohol harm, and deciding whether you want to be part of the problem—or the cure.

Is all this new knowledge enough to cause you to rethink your relationship to alcohol? I hope so. With knowledge comes wisdom.

The following excerpt from a 2013 report published by the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health spotlights the collaborative efforts and sharing of formidable financial resource that alcohol and tobacco companies pour into ensuring high sales and profits, manipulating governments and turning people into fools.

You may argue that pooling resources is simply smart business. Yet, it’s worth considering is it a fair or ethical practice to target:

• Minorities

• Vulnerable people, including youth

• Socio-economically deprived and those at risk?

• You?

Perhaps you don’t count yourself in any of the above brackets. But the truth is that alcohol harm is all pervasive—and expensive. Suicide, car crashes, injury, mental-health related violence, the high cost of incarceration, expenditure on addressing alcohol harm at the cost of increased spending by Governments affects us all.   

 

Your Feelings Matter

Heightened knowledge may not be the total catalyst to sobriety, but it has played a large part in mine, and also my devotion to this book and spreading the truth about alcohol.

Feelings, as you’ll discover in my books Your Beautiful Mind and Mind Your Drink, matter. They are the gateway, the portal, to transformational change.

When you feel compassion, empathy, sadness, rage, love for those who suffer needlessly, and this includes yourself, you will find freedom from alcohol. In the chapter, Get Angry, I look at how healing and cathartic channeling your anger into a higher purpose can be. You’ll also learn how the New Zealand Police were taken to court by local government (the Wellington City Council)—and the ridiculous reason why.

We’ll also explore why we are incarcerating so many people with drinking problems and the need to spend more money on offering treatment and support.

But first, let’s take a peek into the darker and fascinating side of advertising.

Specifically, we’ll look at the psychological warfare and advertising ploys that booze barons use to manipulate you to act against your best interests. Just when you thought you were in control!

My aim is not to scare you sober, but perhaps you’ll feel a sense of relief, as one person said, “It’s great to finally understand I am not to blame.”

One day, this same person may encounter, Judith Collins and say, “Hey, Judy, I say wanted to say—I am nobody’s fool.”

 

This is an edited extract of Cassandra Gaisford’s new book Mind Your Drink: The Surprising Joy of Sobriety (Control Alcohol, Discover Freedom, Find Happiness and Change Your Life), available in print and eBook from all good bookstores, including:

Amazon: getbook.at/MindYourDrink

 

 

True Stories: Your Beautiful Mind: Control Alcohol, Discover Freedom, Find Happiness and Change Your Life: Justin Raj’s Journey to Joyful Sobriety

Tuesday, May 29th, 2018

 

“Two of my close friends have quit alcohol inspired by my sobriety. I’m really happy and proud about that. At least I could make changes to the life of others.”

 

Giving up alcohol is a heroic journey—it’s not easy and it’s not a quick-fix, but inevitably there is a happy ending and you are rewarded with a life more beautiful. The journey to sobriety very often takes extreme courage, tenacity, and resilience in the face of obstacles, setbacks and, occasionally, defeat.

Alcohol addiction remains a hidden and stigmatic problem marked by denial and fear.  There are millions suffering alone, afraid to ask the question, ‘am I drinking too much?’ Reading and hearing about others who felt similarly and share their stories of triumphing over addiction is inspirational and transformational. I know this personally and professionally.

I honor and give thanks to Justin Raj for being willing to share his hero’s journey (I use this term in a gender-neutral way). The word “hero” comes from a Greek root that means to protect and serve. The hero is connected with self-sacrifice. He or she is the person who transcends the ego and incorporates all the separate parts of themselves to become a true Self.

I asked Justin that as he responded to the questions he may like to recall the details of his journey from alcohol to sobriety as though his journey was a movie, recalling all the aspects that had the greatest impact and both his decision and his success in controlling alcohol. I have structured the questions I asked Justin by drawing on Christopher Vogler’s Story Structure.

“The reader is usually invited to identify with the hero”, says Vogler. “You admire the hero’s qualities and want to be like him or her, but the hero also has flaws. Weaknesses, quirks, and vices make a hero more appealing” – again, I honor Justin for not sanctioning his responses. He has been brutally honest, shared from this heart, and spoken the truth in the heartfelt desire that those who read his story may be emboldened and inspired to join him in joyful sobriety.

 

Q. You recently gave up alcohol. What was your life like when you were drinking? What, if any problems, or issues did you face?

 

I started drinking at the age of 18, I still remember clearly the day I experimented with alcohol.

It was during a Christmas party at my home. I took some brandy from the bottle from which my dad was drinking. I felt dizzy after two drinks and I puked. Next day I woke up with a headache and I was not well for two days.

During my days of higher studies, I started drinking with friends and it became a norm to celebrate with drinks.

It was when I started my own business in 2011 that I realized that my drinking was affecting my business and life. In 2014 my business failed terribly.

I joined an Alcohol Anonymous group in my hometown. I thought AA could help me quit drinking. But, AA here is filled with spirituality, prayers, boring lectures and public confessions. I quit the group after two months and continued with drinking.

When I was drinking, I was failing at any endeavor I undertook. The only thing I thought about was getting drunk and having fun. I even thought of making money just to have drinks. I was penalized for drunken driving several times, ended up in a number of illicit sexual relationships and also involved in a fist fight with strangers and friends in a bar.

 

Q: What was the catalyst for change?

The catalyst happened on the night of 24th February 2018. I had a road accident in which I hit an elderly pedestrian with my motorbike. My left forearm was broken and dislocated. I had to undergo a surgery. My family and friends came to know that I was drunk when I had the accident.

Even after the accident and surgery, I continued drinking regularly. I visited a nearby bar with my broken hand resting in an arm-sling. After observing this addictive behavior of mine, my family took my drinking seriously.

One of my cousins who is a psychiatrist-counselor recommended me to attend a counseling session with a friend of hers. It was after the counseling session that I decided to quit.

 

Q: Was there ever a point when you knew you needed to stop drinking but refused ‘the call’ or had second thoughts about giving up? What obstacles did you face in order to stay firm in your decision?

 

Yes, whenever I decide to quit alcohol, I had second thoughts: ‘why should I?’ Alcohol is the only answer I have to escape from my boredom, to have fun and pass my free time. I didn’t know anything other than drinking alcohol to engage myself with. To me, peer pressure was less. I don’t have any friends who compelled me to drink. I can’t blame anyone other than myself.

 

Q: What sources of aid did you receive to continue on the path to sobriety? i.e. Did anyone appear to help you? A mentor, friend, adviser, support group etc.

 

Counseling sessions were great. It was those three days of counseling, that changed my attitude towards drinking. Then the books the counselor recommended. One of the books was yours, Your Beautiful Mind: Control Alcohol, Discover Freedom, Find Happiness and Change Your Life.

Your Beautiful Mind happened to be the first book in my life I read on alcoholism. It was a well written, informative and inspiring book.

I spent three weeks after the counseling sessions to read books on alcoholism. Reading helped me a lot. Knowledge is real power. My family and friends also gave great support. Two of my close friends have quit alcohol inspired by my sobriety. I’m really happy and proud about that. At least I could help make changes in the lives of others.

 

Q: At what point did you truly commit to giving up drinking and follow with action? Describe the point when you crossed the threshold.

 

It was the road accident, counseling sessions, reading books on alcoholism and knowing more about the menace of alcohol, that motivated me to strongly decided to quit alcohol for life.

 

Q: Once you gave up drinking did you face, or were you confronted with, any difficult challenges (ranging from minor struggles to setbacks) that threatened your resolve and may have defeated a lesser person. What tests did you face, what allies did you meet?

The only enemy I have to face was myself. As I said earlier, none of my friends compelled me to drink ever in my life. It was my decision to start drinking and it is the addictive nature of alcohol which kept me hooked. Today, I’m getting great support from my family and friends. The happiness my mom, aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends experience after I embraced sobriety is priceless.

It has been two months. I have been sober and I will remain so for the rest of my life.

 

Q: Did you emerge wiser from these trials? In what way did these tests help you prepare for the ultimate test—unwavering sobriety. Looking back now, what advice or warning would you give to others about what could go wrong, and possibly derail their decision to give up drinking?

Our life is a great teacher. Out of my drunkenness and reckless riding, I hit an innocent, elderly pedestrian with my motorbike. He was 73 years old. Still today, I can’t recollect how I hit him or what happened that night. If that elderly person was dead, I would have ended up in jail. To me, thinking about that incident is still scary.

Alcohol is a legally available addictive substance. People cant stop drinking because they are hooked by its addictive nature and nothing else. People think drinking is fun. Even I thought so till a few months ago. But the truth is, I still can’t remember the fun I had while I was drinking.

It is saddening that our society and media is all praise for drinking and smoking just trapping youngsters into the mindset that drinking and smoking are essential for a fun-filled life.

Life is more beautiful if you take away alcohol from it. We can have everlasting, memorable fun and experiences without the influence of alcohol. My advice is don’t try alcohol if you haven’t already and quit it if you are using it.

 

Q: What were your deepest fears during this time? Some people describe this as a battle with “the dark villain” – an inner battle whereby they faced and overcame their own demon and inner fears. Was this your experience? In what way?

The dark villain is me. I was engaged in an inner battle with my own demon. If we need to change our life, we have to take that decision by ourselves, don’t we?

Even before going to counseling I had determined with a half-heart that I had to quit drinking. My family has a background of alcohol and drug abuse. My father died from alcohol-related disease, my maternal grandfather died due to heavy drinking. My paternal grandfather was also a heavy drinker. A few of my uncles, cousins, and family friends are also suffering from alcoholism.

I started experiencing alcoholic depression for the past few years which I didn’t recognize. It was only after counseling that I realized that I was suffering from depression—not from a hangover. I have a great many reasons to quit alcohol not a single reason to continue with it.

 

Q: Describe/recount the time you truly knew you had succeeded in defeating the enemy of alcohol when you transformed into a new state of being – where fears were vanquished and the new you was born.

When you find no reason to drink alcohol, you will quit. What I thought was fun wasn’t fun anymore. When I get bored I have better things to do today other than drinking.

Why should I drink and invite trouble as well as create a deep hole in my purse, if I can do productive, enjoyable things like reading, writing, working out and talking with friends which add value to my life and myself?

We are basically our thoughts. When we change our thoughts, ultimately we change ourselves.

 

Q: What rewards did you reap—external (knowledge, a promotion, career success, improved relationships, better health etc.) and/or as an inner reward (personal growth, fulfillment, freedom, self-respect etc.)

As I said earlier, I don’t have any reason to drink. Moreover, I have more reasons not to drink. Even after two months of alcohol-free life, I can really feel the changes in myself and things I do.

First and foremost, my financial situation has improved. I spent too much money on this destructive habit of mine. I started doing things I love with more vigor and passion. I’m getting an everlasting, joyful and positive high from it. Alcohol disconnected me from my life, my business and myself. Today, I feel that connection is back. It is priceless.

 

Q: Having gained the rewards, and with nothing left to prove, how was your early experience of sobriety?

For the past four years, I was struggling with my drinking. I tried to quit in all ways I can but in vain. I couldn’t stop drinking even for a week. I never read any books like yours in those days.

Today, I feel if I had read the books I read today or attended a good counseling session, I should have got the power to quit alcohol for life earlier. And also I should have avoided all the troubles I had to overcome in those alcohol-filled days.

 

Q: Was there ever a point where you felt lulled into a false sense of security, but in reality, there was one last challenge you had to face? Perhaps the desire for alcohol was not completely vanquished or perhaps something plunged you into a temptation to drink—just when you thought it was safe to breathe easy again?

It was my lack of knowledge and the addictive nature of alcohol. You know, I quit sugar two years ago when I learned the bad effects of it on my physical and mental health. I was too much addicted to sugar from my childhood and when I learned that it was doing me harm I quit.

Why couldn’t I do it with alcohol, even though, I knew it is bad for health, mind, and my purse?

The only reason is alcohol is addictive. It is normal that we defend our addictions by stating ‘today is Saturday’ ‘my friends are here so we are going to party hard’, ‘I can stop it anytime and many more excuses. These defensive mentalities last only until the day we realize the habit we are nurturing is gradually destructing our mind, body, finances, and relationship with our loved ones. I have met with that stage of self-realization and freed myself from a self-imposed prison of my addictive behavior.

Do you think, I want to go back to the prison again? I don’t think so.

 

Describe the moment when you felt truly reborn into a new, joyous form, with your beautiful mind – able to control the desire, temptation or compulsion to drink alcohol. In what way have you been rewarded for your courageous and determined journey?

I can give full credit to the psychiatrist who counseled me. He has a decade-long experience in dealing with alcohol and drug addicts. His level of knowledge fascinated me. He made me realize that drinking alcohol, which I thought was joyful fun, is, in fact, an illusion.

The counseling sessions usually last for three days. By the second day, I learned that what I was doing is wrong and decided to quit alcohol for life. The last day of the session was just a friendly talk and he recommended a few books to read including your book.

Today, I’m not thinking the way I used to be. I have changed and I can feel that transformation. I have got myself back. My business has grown, my passions have started blooming and my financial condition has improved. Today, I started welcoming mornings without hangovers and regrets. It feels great!

The book I prefer from all those I have read since committing to sobriety is your book: Your Beautiful Mind: Control Alcohol, Discover Freedom, Find Happiness and Change Your Life.

 

I’m so thrilled to have been able to help! As I write this post, Justin is working on his business plan and also preparing for an entrance exam for his doctoral degree in journalism—something he doubts he’d be achieving if he was still drinking.

Below is a copy of the review Justin Raj left on Amazon.

5.0 out of 5 starsDiscovering my beautiful mind!
21 May 2018

Cassandra Gaisford’s book- Your beautiful mind – is the first book I read after completing my three-day counseling session at a major alcoholic rehabilitation center in the Indian state of Kerala. Her straightforward way of writing hooked me and motivated me to hold on to my decision to quit alcohol, strongly. She handled the menace of alcoholism from the level of basics to the level of an expert in a language even a layman can understand.

‘Your beautiful mind’ inspired me to think beyond my alcoholic lifestyle, which wasn’t possible before and helped to transform my mind completely. She motivated me to take up my passions- reading, writing, stock market analysis- as fruitful addictions rather than following self-destructive addictions like alcohol, nicotine, and drugs. Today, I can enjoy my life more and feels like I have been freed from a prison – a self-created prison of addictive behaviour. Keep inspiring and keep up your great work, Cassandra!”

 

It was lovely feedback to receive! All power to Justin… I’m so proud of him!

 

Are you struggling with alcohol abuse or alcohol addiction? Are you worried you’re drinking too much? Or are you curious about the life-changing magic of sobriety?

I hope Justin’s story of self-empowered, purpose and passion-filled sobriety provides hope, courage, and determination for you to achieve the same.

“Reading helped me a lot. Knowledge is real power.”

 

Life really is more beautiful sober. You can learn more about Justin Raj and follow his blog here—www.justyjots.com

 

 

This is an edited testimonial for Cassandra Gaisford’s new book Your Beautiful Mind: Control Alcohol, Discover Freedom, Find Happiness and Change Your Life, available in print and Ebook here—getBook.at/Controlalcohol

You’ll also find plenty of ongoing support and cheerleading in the Facebook community https://www.facebook.com/Sobrietyexperiment/. Pop along and join us now.

 

The Truth About Alcohol, Addiction, and Recovery

Saturday, May 5th, 2018

 

Booze barons do such a great job of disguising alcohol that many people don’t know what it really is.

Alcohol is ethanol, also known as ethyl alcohol or grain alcohol, and is a flammable, colorless chemical compound. Yes, folks, everything can really go up in flames when you drink.

I fondly remember Christmases spent at my grandmother’s and the excitement we all felt when a match was held against the rum-soaked Christmas pudding and it burst into plumes of fire.

For some reason, until researching this chapter I never made the connection that booze was a flammable substance I poured down my throat.

Ethanol fuel is also used in some countries instead of gasoline in cars and other engines. In Brazil, for example, ethanol fuel made from sugar cane provides 18 percent of the country’s fuel for cars.

In short, the alcohol or ethanol found in your favorite beer, wine, and spirits is a poison, masquerading as a happy drink. It’s so toxic that, when consumed too quickly or in huge quantities, your body’s default position is to expel it—usually in a totally unglamorous technicolor spray of vomit.  That’s if you’re lucky.

Alcohol poisoning can, and does, cause death—both directly and indirectly through liver disease, breast cancer, and a staggering amount of other alcohol-related diseases. We’ll explore the havoc caused by booze, as well as how sobriety leads to nirvana in the chapter, Health Havoc or Health Nirvana?

Yet, despite all the risks and dire health warnings, alcohol seems such a benign substance. Perhaps it’s the allure of its origins—a uniquely natural process.

Alcohol is formed when oxygen deprived yeast ferments natural sugars found in fruits, grains, and other substances. For example, wine is made from the sugar in grapes, beer from the sugar in malted barley, cider from the sugar in apples, and most vodka from the sugar in fermented grains such as sorghum, corn, rice, rye or wheat (though you can also use potatoes, fruits or even just sugar.)

Many people use alcohol as a way to self-medicate their way through life’s ups and downs. Peer into the history of alcohol and you’ll find that its medical origins enjoy a good pedigree. Gin mixed with tonic containing quinine, for example, was historically used to treat malaria.

“So it’s totally good for you,” writes one enthusiastic supporter in an alcohol forum.

Yeah, if you’ve got malaria perhaps, but not if you’re just sick and dog-tired of living.

Alcohol is classed as a ‘sedative hypnotic’ drug. That definition on its own may sound just like what you’re craving until you discover the true impact. Sedative-hypnotic drugs depress the central nervous system (CNS) at high doses.

Hmmm, that doesn’t sound so flash, especially if you’re prone to knocking back a few too many drinks. Your central nervous system controls a majority holding of the key functions of your body and mind. The CNS consists of two parts: your brain and your spinal cord.

As you know, the brain is the chief conductor of your thoughts, interpreting your external environment, and coordinating body movement and function, both consciously and unconsciously. Complex functions, including how you think and feel, and maintaining homeostasis, a relatively stable balance between all the interdependent elements in your body, are directly attributable to different parts of your brain.

Your spinal cord with its network of sensitive nerves acts as a conduit for signals between the brain and the rest of the body.

You definitely don’t want to mess with the way this important duo functions. But every time you ingest alcohol you do, weakening their ability to perform like virtuosos, interfering with maintaining a healthy balance and the finely tuned harmony which is so vital to your health, performance, and effectiveness, and causing all systems in your body to play horribly off key.

Would you love to possess an outstanding ability in your field? Excel in your chosen profession? Tap into higher knowledge? Hone a much-loved or admired skill? Be universally admired? Many people think alcohol aids the fulfillment of these desires—until they realize their beliefs were deceptively wrong.

Sobriety on the other hand… now there’s a different story.

At lower doses, alcohol can act as a stimulant inducing feelings of euphoria, optimism, and gregariousness. Everything looks beautiful, your belief in yourself, your talents, and your ability elevates like a seductive piece of music. Your inhibitions float away, suddenly you imagine yourself to be far better than you really feel. Shyness disappears, in its place talkativeness.

For a little while.

But pour more and more drinks down your throat,  knock back liters of your favorite elixir and you’ll quickly find yourself confronted by the truth. Alcohol is trouble.

Quite simply, alcohol knocks the life out of you. The more you drink, the higher the likelihood you’ll become drowsy. Recall the drunk in the corner, slouched against the wall, or the once vivacious life of the party, barely able to hold her head in her hands, as she sits slumped at the bar. I’ve been there—it’s a predictable rite of passage. In a culture that values drinking, this is normal.

Normal but definitely not glamorous, hip or cool.

But things get worse. Sometimes much, worse. Your breathing naturally slows into a state called respiratory depression. It can become exceedingly shallow or worse, stop entirely—what’s truly frightening is you have absolutely no control. No one chooses to fall into an alcohol-fuelled coma, but this is exactly what happens to far too many people.

Very high levels of alcohol in the body can shut down critical areas of the brain that control breathing, heart rate, and body temperature, resulting in death. And, tragically, far too many beautiful people needlessly die this way.

Can I scare you sober? It’s not my agenda, but I do know this—that’s exactly what happened to Amy Winehouse. And it’s exactly what’s happened to a great many other talented, beautiful, smart people. People who only wanted to feel high, but never intended to die.

As well as its acute and potentially lethal sedative effects at high doses, alcohol undermines every organ in the body and these effects depend on your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) over time.

We’ll examine the dangers of drinking both large and small alcoholic beverages over a short period of time in the chapter, Binge Drinking Blindness.

We’ll also dive deeper into what constitutes safe drinking, including analyzing what constitutes a standard drink and why health authorities want you to control your drinking—assuming you don’t want to kick the alcohol habit for good.

But first, let’s stop to consider, how natural is alcohol really?

What’s Hidden in Your Drink?

Ethanol made be created via a naturally occurring process, but that’s not the end of the production cycle. The other thing to be mindful of is all the other hidden dangers lurking in your drinks.

Peer a little closer and you’ll find all sorts of nasty additives—not to mention toxic sprays, pesticides, fungicides, chemical fertilizers and other things that infiltrate many crops. But you won’t find many of these disclosed on the labels.

Sorry to spoil the party.

Health gurus cite dangerous levels of sulfites or sulphites (as it’s spelled in New Zealand) and warn of harmful side-effects, particularly for those with a low tolerance.

The term sulfites is an inclusive term for sulfur dioxide (SO2), a preservative that’s widely used in winemaking (and most food industries) for its antioxidant and antibacterial properties. SO2 plays an important role in preventing oxidization and maintaining a wine’s freshness. When used in high levels, because it’s considered harmful, it must legally be disclosed on product labels.

To be fair, many foods also contain sulfites. Some people claim the preservative is nothing to be alarmed by—unless of course, you include yourself in the numbers of people who are allergic. Sulfites cause bloating and itching in sulfite-sensitive people. Does your beloved have a beer gut or sulphite bloating?

Histamine High?

Some studies suggest sulfites and other additives, including compounds such as histamines and tannins, are connected to the pounding headaches many of us suffer after drinking. That, and our ballooning weight.

Fermented alcoholic beverages, especially wine, champagne, and beer are histamine-rich.

As the author and psychologist Doreen Virtue explains in her excellent book, Don’t Let Anything Dull Your Sparkle, many people binge drink when stressed, but most don’t realize that some of the excess weight may be attributed to stress-hormones and neurotransmitter responses. These biochemicals, Virtue says, are triggered by the fact when you’re stressed you often binge on food and drinks to which you may unknowingly be allergic to, or which are intrinsically unhealthy.

As I’ve mentioned, any product that undergoes fermentation contains high levels of histamine. What I didn’t know was that these histamines trigger allergic reactions in our body, especially if we’re under a lot of stress.

Histamines get you both ways, not only occurring in the food and alcohol you drink but also because when you’re allergic to something your body releases its own histamine, says Virtue. “Stress produces histamine. We’re all naturally allergic to stress,” she says.

When you consume a diet that’s high in histamine or histamine-inducing foods, your body becomes overwhelmed. Add a stressful lifestyle to the mix and it’s no wonder you feel less than perky.

Histamines are also manufactured and released by our bodies not only when we’re stressed but also when we’re dehydrated. Again, alcohol, because it magnifies dehydration, makes things worse.

Virtue explains, “The trouble is that histamine produces uncomfortable symptoms such as bloating, itchy skin, profuse sweating, hot flashes, runny or stuffy nose, and feeling cold all the time, as well as low blood pressure, arrhythmia, anxiety, and depression.”

Nice.

No wonder, we start to look and feel better when we lose the booze.

Other addictive beverages, like coffee and sugar-laden drinks, also trigger histamine reactions. The net result is a ‘histamine high.’ This boosted energy and elation you experience is always short-lived and is always followed by an energy crash, plus other painful symptoms discussed above.

Before publishing her findings Virtue decided to test her theory and embark on a 30-day histamine-free diet.

“Within two days of going ‘low-histamine,’ I felt a youthful energy and exuberance that I had never experienced before. I felt well. I felt happy. And I knew it was due to the low-histamine diet… you cannot return to the old ways of bingeing upon histamine once you realize the process behind these binges.”

Sugar Rush

Submerged in many alcoholic drinks are dangerous and highly addictive levels of sugar. Research collated in a New York Times article stated, “Cravings induced by sugar are comparable to those induced by addictive drugs like cocaine and nicotine.”   

Latest research revealed in The New Zealand Listener in 2018 reveals the physiological and neurological reasons your brain makes you crave sugar.  I share some of these findings in the chapter Sweet Misery. It’s only since researching and writing this book that I realized I was more addicted to sugar than alcohol.

Whew! That’s a relief. But it’s also not—because both are tough habits to crack. Tough, but not impossible. Knowledge is power, right?

In summary, not only is alcohol a highly addictive poison, but your cravings, your weight gain, low energy levels and less-than-optimal mental and emotional health may be fuelled as much by additives and sugar, as it is ethanol or alcohol itself.

You can heal your life and it begins with examining the facts. Consider becoming an amateur sleuth and adopting the role of an investigative journalist. Discover how alcohol is made, including all the artificial things that are added to many products to make it tastier and more alluring—and potentially more dangerous to your health.

Perhaps this may be all the motivation you need to develop a healthy intolerance for alcohol.

 

You’ll find more ways to cultivate joy and moderate your drinking in, Mind Your Drink: The Surprising Joy of Sobriety, available from all good bookstores, including:

Amazon: getbook.at/MindYourDrink

Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Nook, and iBooks: https://www.books2read.com/u/bQBLj0

You’ll find plenty of ongoing support and cheerleading in the Facebook community https://www.facebook.com/Sobrietyexperiment/. Pop along and join us now.

 

 

6 Things Successful People Do To Become & Stay Motivated & Happy

Thursday, April 19th, 2018

Staying happy and motivated is like caring for delicate roses, you need to nurture your fragrant dreams every day and be vigilant in keeping predators away. As a coaching client, who suffers from reoccurring bouts of depression, said recently, “Changing my view from one where I am trying to motivate myself, to one where I am inspired by the things that motivate me will help me achieve my goals.”

Successful people don’t force themselves into submission, instead, they harness their love and enthusiasm for their projects to lift them higher. Successful people also know how to bounce back from inevitable setbacks. Guided by the  wisdom of Leonardo da Vinci, here are 6 things successful people do to become and stay motivated:

 

1.) HARNESS THE POWER OF PASSION

 

If there’s no love, what then?

~ Leonardo da Vinci

 

Without love you don’t have energy. Without energy you have nothing.

Passion is a source of unlimited energy from your soul that enables you to achieve extraordinary results. Following your passion and claiming your authentic self is a great way to boost your vitality. Whether you call it joy, love or obsession or desire, these powerful heart-felt emotions are natural opiates for your mind, body, and soul.  It’s the fire that ignites your potential and inspires you to be who you really are.

When people are pursuing something they are passionate about their drive and determination is infinite. They become like pieces of elastic able to stretch to anything and accommodate any setback. People immobilized by fear and passivity snap like a twig. They lack resilience.

Passion gives people a reason for living and the confidence and drive to pursue their dreams. Leonardo was a man of many loves and deep obsessions. These passions imbued him with infinite energy—powering his creativity, courage, resolve, and tenacity.

Sadly, when you’re feeling anxious, depressed or stressed, the things that you love are the first things to be traded. Nothing seems to spark joy. But, when you do something that feeds your soul you may be amazed at how quickly fire ignites.

As Leonardo once said, “No labor is sufficient to tire me”. Even when he was exhausted by life, his passion sustained him.

 

2.) BEGIN WITH THE END IN SIGHT

 

There are three classes of people: those who see. Those who see when they are shown. Those who do not see

~ Leonardo da Vinci

 

Beginning with the end in sight is a powerful way of strengthening motivation, persistence, and perseverance. The future does belong to those believe in the beauty of their dreams and schemes

Every extraordinary achievement starts as someone’s daydream. Dream big, become audaciously obsessed, and fuel your verve—pursue the vision that sparkles!

Let desire propel you forward by acting as if, seeing as if, feeling as if, tasting as if, touching as if your success has already been achieved.

Jessie Burton’s empowering words, “Always picture succeeding, never let it fade. Always picture success, no matter how badly things seem to be going in the moment,” may inspire you as much as they do me.

Her advice reminds me to watch my tendency to visualize and picture failure. Sometimes when I embark on an inspired quest I tell myself messages of failure, and as a result, I feel failure. This is hardly a formula for success!

Jesse Burton, the bestselling author of the highly acclaimed books The Muse and The Miniaturist, is very inspiring to me because she is so honest about her own battles with mental health—including anxiety.

Marcus Aurelius, Benjamin Franklin, and Julia Cameron, playwright and author of phenomenal bestseller The Artist’s Way, all understand the transformational power of keeping words, thoughts, and feelings in journals. As did Leonardo da Vinci.

He was a prolific recorder of all things that interested and excited him. He maintained over 13,000 pages of scientific notes and drawings on natural philosophy, life, travel, and mysteries.

“Preserve these sketches as your assistants and masters,” he once wrote in his journal.

His notebooks not only log his interests and the things he witnessed with his own eyes, but it was also a medium by which he channeled his intuition. They also helped him shape his vision for future creations he wished to transform from his mind into tangible reality.

Whether you keep a passion journal, dream board or store your vision in your mind, visualizing your preferred future is an essential tool for your success.

 

3.) BE AMBITIOUS

I wish to work miracles

~ Leonardo da Vinci

 

Many people struggle to achieve because they’re not ambitious. Being ambitious may stir your fears—fear of success, failure, regret, disappointment, loss. Or it may trigger a fear of standing out. You may associate ambition with negative traits, like aggression.

Reframe ambition and look to your heroes and heroines. As Leonardo once said, “I want to create miracles.” If that’s not ambitious I don’t know what is. He wasn’t hard and aggressive—he was focused and he kept his vision fixed on success.

“Dream big,” encourages James Patterson, currently the bestselling author in the world. “Don’t set out to write a good thriller. Set out to write a #1 thriller.” 

Given that science has barely even begun to explore the real potential of the human mind, it’s a funny thing how easily we persuade ourselves of its limitations and settle for less.

You’ve probably caught yourself thinking about a big dream, some inspired course of action, and at some point talked yourself down by saying, “I could never do that!”

Or perhaps you’ve come up with a bright idea about something and then shelved it because somebody said dismissively, “You can’t do that!” or “That’s crap.”

Or perhaps, as I have so often said to myself before reconnecting with my millionaire mindset, “I can’t do this. I can’t write this book. It’s too big. Who do I think I am trying to write such a complex book?”

But how do you really know what you are capable of unless you try?

Paulo Coehlo, the author of The Alchemist, once said: “Know what you want and try to go beyond your own expectations. Improve your dancing, practice a lot, and set a very high goal, one that will be difficult to achieve. Because that is an artist’s million: to go beyond one’s limits. An artist who desires very little and achieves it has failed in life.”

Thinking big demands a long step outside the comfort zone of what you know.

It can feel scary to contemplate stepping out of the space where you feel you know what you’re doing and you feel fully in control.

It can feel frightening to explore what it would be like if you were to leave the comfort-rut and attempt to climb toward a new summit. You don’t know for sure where it will lead. But everyone who’s ever made a success of anything started with a big dream.

And you can, too.

Tim Ferris dreams big by adopting and cherishing his beginner’s mind. Rather than succumb to the fear of failure, he changes his mindset, and affirms his love of variety and challenge and being a perpetual debutante.

“Think small, to go big” encourages Gary Keller in his book The One Thing. “Going small” is ignoring all the things you could do and doing what you should do.

“It’s recognizing that not all things matter equally and finding the things that matter most. It’s a tighter way to connect what you do with what you want. It’s realizing that extraordinary results are directly determined by how narrow you can make a focus.”

When you think too big, achieving success can feel overwhelming, time-consuming, and complicated. Calendars can become overloaded and success starts to feel out of reach. So, people opt out and either quit or settle for less.

“Unaware that big success comes when we do a few things well, they get lost trying to do too much, and in the end, accomplish too little,” says Keller.

“Over time they lower their expectations, abandon their dreams, and allow their life to get small. This is the wrong thing to make small.”

 

4.) PLAN FOR SUCCESS

 

God sells us all things at the price of labor

~ Leonardo da Vinci

 

Planning and effort prevent poor performance. This is such a powerful message when it comes to our goals, especially if you’re someone who equates planning with feeling controlled. You may be looking to the future thinking, “Someday! Someday I will achieve that.”

How can you be assured that things will happen if you don’t plan your action steps effectively, efficiently and productively?

So many people end their lives disappointed that things didn’t come to fruition. “Why didn’t it happen for me? Why, when it happens for other people.” Successful people don’t sit at home waiting for things to happen. They go out and conquer things.

If you’re sitting back waiting for ‘someday’ you have a problem—you think you have time!

Successful people set goals and start breaking them down into bite-size chunks. If you want to generate $100,000 out of your business in a year what do you need to do to get there? If you want to start a new relationship, or improve the one you’ve got, develop your success strategy. Your efforts will be repaid in exchange for your labor and your courage to try.

Planning for success also means planning for possible failure. As Oprah once said, “Do the one thing you think you cannot do. Fail at it. Try again. Do better the second time. The only people who never tumble are those who never mount the high wire. This is your moment. Own it.”

Planning to for success also means showing up! Successful people don’t spend their time thinking and strategizing about success.

To be inspired is to be in spirit, and inspiration has to find you working or it won’t come out to play. Eighty percent of success is empowering your mind, body, and spirit by showing up.

Showing up requires the ability to balance creativity with flexibility and discipline.

To be disciplined is to be committed, devoted, able to control your SELF in accordance with, and sometimes against, your desires.

You may be a genius, gifted or have an IQ of 160, but if you lack self-discipline and follow-through your success will be limited.

Leonardo affirmed the importance of this by writing reminders to himself of the superiority of doing to knowing.“I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough: we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.”

 

5.) CHASE THE LIGHT

 

Darkness steeps everything with its hue, and the more an object is divided from darkness the more it shows its true and natural color

~ Leonardo da Vinci

 

What’s your default position when things go awry, obstacles challenge your resolve, technology goes belly-up or unforeseen demands on your time derail your plans?

Does your mood darken? Setbacks are normal foes you’ll meet on the path to success, but how you greet them will determine the outcome.

Keep your thoughts light. You may need to bring out the big guns to wage war against doubt, despair and other dark, heavy thoughts. While they’re often part of the journey to success, you will need to slay them to stay motivated and optimistic.

Leonardo would turn again and again toward the things that created light. He didn’t ignore the shadows, but he didn’t allow his palette to be overloaded by darkness.

Acceptance, optimism, willpower, grit, stubborn determination and a resolve to persevere are critical skills to cultivate, as is flexibility and the willingness to adapt. Sometimes it’s all too hard and you need to hibernate. You can take a lesson from nature in this regard.

Successful people resist complaining and victim talk—they know it increases toxicity in your mind and body, hampering your progress. Instead, they throw their energy into positivity and strive to engineer and implement solutions, no matter how small.

They also ask for help if too much darkness creeps in, and, rather than suppress, numb or try to ignore problems they peer into the darkness and look for the gift.

The astoundingly innovative and talented British architect Dame Zaha Mohammad Hadid, faced unimaginable obstacles on her road to success, including battling the predominately male industry who viewed her curvaceous designs with destain. “Having to fight hard has made me a better architect,” she once said.

6.) SAVVY SOBRIETY

 

Here again, many vain pleasures are enjoyed, both by the mind in imagining impossible things, and by the body in taking those pleasures that are often the cause of the failing of life. Extremes are to be avoided

~ Leonardo da Vinci

 

Alcohol and success don’t make good marriage partners, but they’re often fatally attracted.

While there’s no evidence that Leonardo was a teetotaller, he was a clever man. Experience would have told him what we all know—too much booze muddles the mind, ignites aggression, reduces responsiveness and ultimately depresses.

It’s also hard to quit.

Many successful people limit their drinking or consciously decide not to touch a drop. Keeping their resolve, however, often takes extraordinary willpower.

Spiritual guru to the stars, Deepak Chopra, gave up drinking, saying “I liked it too much.”

Julia Cameron, the author of The Artists Way, fought her way back from alcoholism. Others like Amy Winehouse devastatingly never made it.

Drink to success? Destroying your career, ruining your relationships, sacrificing your sanity, and taking your life is a massive price to pay to celebrate success.

Benefits of not drinking are many, including:

  • Authentic happiness
  • Increased memory and mental performance
  • Better control of your emotions
  • Increased productivity
  • Sweeter relationships
  • Improved confidence, self-esteem
  • Stronger ability to focus on your goals and dreams
  • Greater intuition and spiritual intelligence

The choice is ultimately yours. Only you know the benefits alcohol delivers or the toll it exacts. Consider trialing sobriety—take the 30-day challenge. Experiment with living an alcohol-free life.

Do you need help to moderate or quit drinking? Consider purchasing any of my books in the Mindful Drinking series, including Mind Your Drink: The Surprising Joy of Sobriety and Mind Over Mojitos: Easy Recipes for Happier Hours & a Joy-Filled Life 

 

For more tips to lift your spirits during times of adversity grab your free tip sheet

Mind Your Drink—Pep Up Your Peptides and Feel Stronger, Happier, and Lighter Fast!

Sunday, April 8th, 2018

 

“As our feelings change, this mixture of peptides travels throughout your body and your brain. And they’re literally changing the chemistry of every cell in your body,” says neuroscientist Dr. Candace Pert.

Many people seek happiness in a bottle, mistakenly turning to booze to fuel a happy-high. But there are happier and healthier options to feel more joy—minus hangover hell and drinkers remorse. You can trick your brain and stimulate the reward networks by losing the booze and pepping up your peptides—your body’s natural feel-good opiates.

What you feel has a powerful effect on your mind and your behavior, attracting, or repealing from you what you desire—including health and vitality. Call it the law of attraction, the law of manifestation, or whatever you like, but know that the mind-body connection is backed by strong empirical science.

Dr. Candace Pert, formerly the chief of brain biochemistry at the National Institutes of Health in the US, revolutionized her field by discovering that emotions create biochemical compounds called peptides that serve as messengers in the brain; her team’s work won the prestigious Albert Lasker Award, which is often a precursor to the Nobel Prize.

Pert’s breakthrough discovery changed the way scientists understood the mind-body connection.

Her discovery of the opiate receptor, the mechanism by which a class of chemicals (peptides) alters the mind and body, and subsequent research, led her to an understanding of the way emotions function as a regulatory system in the body.

Because of her revolutionary work on emotions and the mind-body connection, Dr. Pert appeared in the film, What the Bleep Do We Know, and her work helped shift the paradigm from “emotions as neuroscience” to “emotions as biology, ” and “emotions as physics.

So, what does all this mean for you and your quest for sobriety?

Many people use alcohol to numb their emotions and mask their pain. But as Dr. Pert’s research highlights repression creates imbalance and leads to ill-health.

“My research has shown me that when emotions are expressed—which is to say that the biochemicals that are the substrate of emotion are flowing freely, all systems are united and made whole. When emotions are repressed, denied, not allowed to whatever they may be, our network pathways get blocked, stopping the flow of the vital feel-good, unifying chemicals that run both our biology and behavior,” says Pert.

As you’ve already discovered alcohol is a depressant and aggravates anxiety and other mental imbalances. Too often, when people start to experience low mood or suffer mental illness they head to the doctor or schedule an appointment with a therapist.

However many psychologists and western doctors treat the mind as “disembodied, a phenomenon with little or no connection to the physical body,” says Pert. “Conversely, physicians treat the body with no regard for the mind or the emotions. But the body and mind are not separate, and we cannot treat one without the other.”

I endorse this professionally and personally and have seen many people return to good health when they stop ingesting toxins, particularly alcohol. My daughter was too-quickly diagnosed as having bipolar and prescribed medication. She was never asked about external events that may have been triggering acute stress, nor asked about her health behaviors (or rather, non-health behaviors) that may have exacerbated her condition. Nor was she counseled in any way so that she could process and transcend feelings that kept her blocked.

After a period of counseling, particularly trauma therapy following a violent assault and attempted strangulation by her then partner, Hannah is now alcohol-free and healthy.

Extensive counseling, having a constructive outlet for her feelings, changing her environment and removing herself from negative influences, and working on her self-esteem has transformed her life. Dr. Pert would no doubt say that she has ‘pepped up her peptides.”

“I’ve always kind of known that the energy you emanate from within attracts the situations and people that you need,” Pert explains.

“We’re not just little hunks of meat. We’re vibrating like a tuning fork

—we send out a vibration to other people. We broadcast and receive. Thus the emotions orchestrate the interactions among all our organs and systems to control that.”

Emotions are meant to be felt temporarily, flowing through and out of you so they don’t become stuck in your cells and tissues. This is why having an outlet to express your emotions healthily is so vital—especially when painful emotions keep replaying through your conscious and subconscious mind.

Memories are emotions tangled with thoughts, and these can become implanted not just in your brain but in your body too. There are different theories about how exactly this works, but Dr. Pert explains that memories can be found stored biochemically in the synapses where neurons (brain cells) connect to each other.

“The sensitivity of the receptors are part of memory and pattern storage,” she once said. “The peptide network extends beyond the hippocampus, to organs, tissue, skin, muscle and endocrine glands. They all have peptides receptors on them and can access and store emotional information. This means the emotional memory is stored in many places in the body, not just the brain. The autonomic nervous system is pivotal to this entire understanding.”

We are all a bundle of nerves

The autonomic nervous system is where you experience the flood of physical reactions to your emotions—it’s the system that switches hormones on and off, changes your breathing and heart-rate patterns, and more in response to fear and stress.

As Colette Baron-Reid, a survivor of rape and a recovering alcohol and drug addict, shared in her book, Uncharted: The Journey Through Uncertainty to Infinite Possibility, “Even if you haven’t studied the science of how energy affects and forms patterns in the physical world, you have experienced it, as I have. Once, I ran into an old friend with whom I had severed ties years before. My relationship with this person had been constantly in chaos, unhealthy, and not serving either of us, so we had grown apart.

“I had tremendous anxiety whenever I was around this friend, triggered by the friend’s history of anger and my history around abuse. Over and over, I found myself back experiencing the energy of my 19-year-old self and the rape, when I couldn’t defend myself and capitulated out of fear.

“After the friendship ended, I rarely thought about this person, and I assumed I had simply moved on, but when I saw this person approaching on the sidewalk, I felt a sense of panic and quickly crossed the street. I asked myself, “When am I?” (not where but when) and realized I wasn’t present in the now; I was experiencing the energy of the past.

“Deep breathing and tuning into the Observer reconnected me to my soul and small self. I imagined myself in the hand of God, surrounded by love and light, and I sent my former friend the intention of compassion. The nightmare ended as the energy in my body shifted. I was no longer disempowered by the stored energy that had infused the memory.”

Pep up your peptides—find a healthy outlet for your emotions. Make finding a way to release all those stuck energies your mission.

Journaling and writing morning pages are some of my favorite ways to express any stinky feelings that bog me down in a rut. Meditation is another—it’s an amazingly alchemical tool that helps me stress less, and eliminate so much unnecessary negativity from my life. They are all some of the daily rituals I share in the next chapter, Magic Mornings.

 

Blank bookcover with clipping path

This is an edited extract of Cassandra Gaisford’s new book Mind Your Drink: The Surprising Joy of Sobriety (Control Alcohol, Discover Freedom, Find Happiness and Change Your Life), available in print and eBook from all good bookstores, including:

Amazon: getbook.at/MindYourDrink

Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Nook, and iBooks: https://www.books2read.com/u/bQBLj0

Or direct from the author  http://www.cassandragaisford.com/product/mind-your-drink-the-surprising-joy-of-sobriety

Journal Your Way to Joyful Sobriety

Monday, April 2nd, 2018

For many people journalling their way to sobriety has been an important part of their recovery.

Journaling is a simple yet supportive means of helping you express your feelings and track your thoughts and progress. It’s a friend when you are in need, a co-creative partner in your success, a cheerleader and a gentle nag-buddy on your life journey.

To minimize stress and boost your bounce mindset, one form of journaling is writing Morning Pages, a strategy developed by Julia Cameron, a recovering alcoholic and the author of The Artist’s Way.

The writing is just a stream of consciousness, writing out whatever you are feeling—good (or what one of my clients calls the “sunnies”) or not so good (“the uglies”).

“It’s a way of clearing the mind—a farewell to what has been and a hello to what will be,” Cameron says.

“Write down just what is crossing your consciousness. Cloud thoughts that move across consciousness. Meeting your shadow and taking it out for a cup of coffee so it doesn’t eddy your consciousness during the day.”

The point of this writing is to work with your subconscious and let it work its magic in the creative, healing process.

Start where you are—commit to a daily practice of writing Morning Pages and journal for self-exploration.

You can find out more about Morning Pages here http://juliacameronlive.com/basic-tools/morning-pages/

 

The Sobriety Journal

Another form of journaling to support your recovery or to help you cut back on booze is creating a Sobriety Journal—a repository for all things inspirational, supportive and motivating.

Your Sobriety Journal doesn’t need to be fancy, just your go-to place to jot down your thoughts and to place inspirational images. Think of it like scrapbooking.

I prefer mine with no lines. This allows me total freedom. You’ll find some nice blank ones from artist supply stores. I love the Fabriano Black Book 190G A4 Landscape available online from www.gordonharris.co.nz.

My current sobriety journal begins with a couple of opening quotes, one of which I included in this book:

“I gave up alcohol in 1980. I enjoyed it far too much, to the point where I frequently got intoxicated. Everything in my life changed for the better when I stopped. It was the right decision.” ~ Deepak Chopra

Deepak’s words spoke to me—reminding me that it’s not that alcohol is intrinsically evil, but rather it’s just too darned tempting. The fact that a professional man as astute and competent as Deepak Chopra is could only control alcohol by completely stopping sustains my own quest for success. Deepak is a medical doctor, spiritual guru to movie stars and also the founder of the Chopra Addiction & Wellness Center.

I also jotted down something Adele, the UK singing, songwriting legend, once said during an interview:

“I used to be a massive drinker, now I might only have two glasses a week—having a hangover with a child is torture. I used to love being drunk, but as I got more famous I would wake up the next morning and think, “What the fuck did I say and who the fuck did I say it to?”

“I’m not as indulgent as I was then (21)—I don’t have time to fall apart…I’m very cautious, whereas I was never cautious before…I go out of my way to avoid anything remotely dangerous…I don’t want to die.”

The next pages of my Sobriety Journal include reminders of the negative results of drinking too much alcohol. My focus then turns to the positive results of sobriety in the pages that follow—weightless, looking younger, saving money, improved brain functioning, increased spiritual connection, transcendence and more! Life really is more beautiful sober.

There is no order to my journal. I write what I feel, what I need to express. For example, my entry on the 2nd of April 2016 read:

“This was to be my beginning of alcohol-free—although I had none yesterday, nor the other day. My lover has disappeared into a bottle of rum, Mount Gay…and already begun to get aggressive. I decided to have a few drinks. How can we be together if we are not on the same wave-length?

But I see the error in my logic now…and it has only cost me disappointment re my willpower. But in all else I am fine. I’ve come to the shed to begin this journal. He is hugging the wall outside. “I’m relaxing,” he drawls when I ask him what he is doing. I’m going to get cream for our dessert and a ginger beer (before he takes the car).”

Later I added, “I left him to do his thing…when I returned he was talking, I think to Chris about trips…I was glad to see him immersed in his passion and not drinking.  I made him a meal, brought him mosquito spray, candles and went to bed. He slept it off in the spare room.”

 

Over a year later I can look back on this time and feel empowered by how much has changed for the better.

Whenever you need to work things through or you talk yourself into a bit of a funk turn to your journal.

You can process things and express your feelings safely and tap into the wisdom of your higher consciousness. This will aid healing and transform negative energies into agents of positive change.

You’ll also find positive reminders of your intentions. Instead of saying “I want a drink” and “I am so over this,” and retelling the story that allowed for drunkenness and failure, turn to your beautiful book. It’s the place in which you’re creating and telling a new life story.

 

I often notice that my anxiety increases when I don’t have a special book in which to purge and reshape my thoughts.

Whenever this happens, I go to my journal and write my way back to sanity. I also reread some of the most empowering and encouraging quotes from other people who have also struggled to maintain a healthy mindset.

Top of my list was Jessie Burton’s empowering words, “Always picture succeeding, never let it fade. Always picture success, no matter how badly things seem to be going in the moment.”

When I read these words they remind me that I have been picturing failure. I was telling myself messages of failure. I was feeling failure. These reminders kick-start a more positive focus.

Jesse Burton, the author of The Muse and The Miniaturist, is very inspiring to me because she is so honest about her own battles with mental health—including anxiety.

Blogging and sharing your thoughts with others is another form of cathartic journaling—as is writing a book like this.

 

“You could have talked more about your personal experience so that other writers can more easily relate to you,” wrote an advance reader of one of my earlier books.

You’ll notice in this chapter and throughout this book that I’ve woven in more of my experiences, the highs and the lows, the successes and the failures, as a result.

The point of this writing is to work with your subconscious and let it work its magic in the creative, healing process.

Keep a Sobriety Journal. It may not work for you, but you will never know until you try.

Here are a few random images from mine to inspire you—as you’ll see, you don’t have to make it perfect. The main thing is to grab what speaks to you and empowers you and preserve it for future reference in your journal.

 

 

 

 

 

Dive Deeper…

The Sobriety Journal: The Easy Way to Stop Drinking: The Effortless Path to Being Happy, Healthy and Motivated Without Alcohol is available in eBook and Print here—getbook.at/SobrietyJournal.

This guided book leaves you free to create your own bespoke journal tailored to support your needs. It includes, Journal Writing Prompts, Empowering and Inspirational Quotes and Recovery Exercises that can be of use in your daily journal writing, working with your sponsor or used in a recovery group.

This is an edited extract of Cassandra Gaisford’s new book Mind Your Drink: The Surprising Joy of Sobriety (Control Alcohol, Discover Freedom, Find Happiness and Change Your Life), available in print and eBook from all good bookstores, including Amazon (getbook.at/MindYourDrink)

 

 

p.s. Check out Cassandra’s Youtube video—Journal Your Way to Joyful Sobriety, Day Three The Sobriety Challenge https://youtu.be/NakDpm07BaQ

 

The simplest, cost-effective, hassle-free way to reduce stress

Tuesday, March 13th, 2018

 

You’ll never find peace by avoiding life or anesthetizing yourself with booze. Pouring alcohol down your neck just ups the stress levels and ultimately pours more unwelcome mayhem into your life, but all too often to help us deal with life we reach for the bottle.

How often have you said the following things to yourself—and believed them?

“Alcohol helps me relax.”

“I need a drink to destress.”

“A glass of wine takes the edge off.”

“I want to clock off.”

True relaxation is not about numbing your brain and flooding your body with toxins.

True relaxation is not about making yourself sick or worrying about having made a fool of yourself, saying the wrong thing, or waking up exhausted because you’ve ruined your sleep.

Buying into the myth that alcohol relaxes you is a dangerous delusion. Any respite it gives you when dealing with life only offers a temporary fix.

When you’re stressed, tired and fuzzy-brained you are less effective, make more mistakes, suffer more and are prone to illness. Add more alcohol to the mix and you intensify its negative impact.

Very often people turn to ‘medicine’ to receive stress—chemical highs, alcohol, and prescription drugs—to manage the symptoms.

But the reality is that these only offer temporary relief, masking symptoms which, left unresolved, can set fire to everything you’ve worked so hard to achieve.

Stress-overload has been described as the disease of our modern society. When you are under too much pressure, take too much on and don’t take time out, you tend to live your life in overdrive and on the verge of burnout.

Stress and burnout disrupts your brain’s happy hormones.

On a typical day in the brain, trillions of messages are sent and received. The messages that are happy, upbeat messages are carried by the brain’s ‘happy messengers’ (scientifically known as the Biogenic Amine/Endorphin System). Other messages are somber and disquieting. They are carried by the brain’s ‘sad messengers’.

Most nerve centers receive input from both types of messengers. So long as this input is balanced, everything runs along on an even keel; however, stress causes problems with the brain’s happy messengers.

When life is smooth, the happy messages keep up with demand. But when too much stress is placed on the brain, the happy messengers begin to fall behind on their deliveries.

As the stress continues, the happy messages begin to fail. Important nerve centers then receive mostly sad messages, and your whole brain becomes distressed and chemically imbalanced.

When sad messages overwhelm the happy messages, you can feel overwhelmed by life. You may feel more tired, unable to fall asleep or to obtain a restful night’s sleep. Depression, anxiety, or just feeling unable to cope with life often ensues.

Tip the balance back into your favor by making room for the happy messages! Some simple but effective ways include:

• Noticing something beautiful every day

• Daily appreciation of things you are grateful for

• Taking time to indulge and feed your hobbies

• Being with people who make you feel special

• Laughing

• Doing nothing at all!

Be on guard for the “new normal”—burnout.

Tap into as many effective stress-busting relief strategies as you can—eat well, stay away from negative people, keep your thoughts positive, exercise, do things you love, play, spend time in nature, experience the quietness of solitude, and other effective stress management techniques—many of which I share in the pages which follow.

A helpful place to start is to identify what’s really stressing you out. Develop a stress reduction or stress management plan. This may mean quitting a toxic job or relationship; working on your self-esteem or learning how to better handle your feelings.

Would you die for a drink? Destroy your relationships? Sacrifice your mental health? What can you start, stop, do more of, or less of to keep your stress levels at a healthy optimum?

Needless to say, there’s a wealth of information and help to manage stress, anxiety and overwhelm. Make finding something that works for you a top priority.

If you need help my book, Stress Less. Love Life More: How to Stop Worrying, Reduce Anxiety, Eliminate Negative Thinking and Find Happiness, available as a paperback and eBook will help. Navigate to here—getBook.at/StressLess.

If your job is the stress-causing culprit you’ll find plenty of practical and helpful strategies in Mid-Life Career Rescue: The Call for Change, available as a paperback and eBook. Navigate to here—getBook.at/CareerChange.

In the following section, Strategies for Sobriety you’ll discover simple, but powerful way to instantly feel better, including how to effectively channel and transcend anger.

You’ll also find some excellent strategies to deal with emotions and memories, including subconscious memories and scripts that keep you stuck.

We’ll also look at some powerful and simple ways to increase the feeling of joy into your life—including how to get naturally high! Importantly, you’ll enhance the desire for wellness, amp up your sober-is-cool expectations, and empower your belief, all of which will deliver positive results in all areas of your life.

All life arises out of choice. The strategies in the next section will help you spontaneously choose the right action.

Who needs the short-term booze-spike when you can find true and lasting peace, happiness, and strength in so many fun, simple, and uplifting ways? Love is the drug, and positive addictions your new replacement therapy.

Unconvinced? Read on! We’re heading for the revive-your-life rehab retreat.

 

 

This is an edited extract of Cassandra Gaisford’s new book Your Beautiful Mind: Control Alcohol, Discover Freedom, Find Happiness and Change Your Life, available in print and Ebook here—getBook.at/Controlalcohol

Are You Worried about your drinking?

Download the first 66 pages of Your Beautiful Mind: Control Alcohol and Love Life More for FREE—navigate to here

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