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← Gray Area Drinking | Jolene Park | TEDxCrestmoorParkWomen

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Showing Revision 27 created 12/06/2017 by Anastasia Bashuk.

  1. So I still remember the exact spot

  2. on the highway where I was driving.
  3. I think I remember it so vividly because
  4. I was having one of the most important
  5. conversations that I’ve ever had with
  6. myself.
  7. In that moment in my car,
  8. I knew in my bones,

  9. I wouldn’t drink alcohol again.
  10. So you might be thinking
  11. what was the rock
  12. bottom that brought me to that point?
  13. And the answer is … there wasn’t one!
  14. You see, I was a gray area drinker and
  15. I drank between two extremes.
  16. I wasn’t an end stage,
  17. lose everything kind of drinker,
  18. not by a long shot.
  19. If you would have asked my friends
    and family
  20. if they thought I had a drinking problem
  21. they would have said, “of course not”.
  22. But I also wasn’t an every now
    and again drinker
  23. who would have a glass of champagne
  24. for example at the wedding and then not
  25. drink again for weeks.
  26. I didn’t fall into either one of those
    drinking categories
  27. or drinking extremes. And ...
  28. maybe you can identify?
  29. As a nutritionist who has worked in
  30. corporate wellness since 2004,
  31. I functioned really well. I knew how
  32. to eat well, I worked out on a regular
  33. basis and I loved to read and study
  34. everything health and wellness.
  35. But what people didn’t know
  36. was how much I loved the “off” switch
  37. that wine provided to my “on”
    and often anxious brain.
  38. I loved the immediate effect that red
    wine delivered.
  39. And people also didn’t see how
  40. easy and frequent it was for one glass
    of wine
  41. to turn into one bottle of wine.
  42. There is a commune characteristic
    and pattern
  43. in gray area drinking that I
  44. experience and I’ve watched many others
  45. experience as well and that’s a stopping
  46. and restarting drinking.
  47. One time I stopped for 7 months,
    another time
  48. I stopped for 30 days,
    and other short periods
  49. in between, and then I would think
    to myself:
  50. “Why am I being so restrictive?
  51. I can be a social drinker”.
  52. So I’d return to drinking
  53. only to return to a level of drinking
  54. where I regret it.
  55. This back and forth drinking
  56. was the exact thing that I knew I wanted
    to exit off for good
  57. that day in my car on the highway.
  58. And maybe you actually don’t identify with
  59. gray area drinking because not
    everyone will.
  60. But here is what I know with
    absolute certainty:
  61. there are people in your life
  62. right now, it could be family
  63. members, close friends, colleagues, and
  64. they are worrying and wondering
  65. as they’re rethinking their drinking
  66. because they are in the gray area,
  67. but more than likely they are not
    talking to you about it

  68. and they are not talking to others
    about it
  69. because they think they are the only ones
  70. and they think they are alone.
  71. So how do I know this? I’ve lived this
  72. for many years.
  73. the more I've been speaking out
    professionally about my
  74. gray area drinking experience the more
    my email inbox
  75. gets flooded with emails from
  76. attorneys and therapists,
  77. senior level managers and nurses,
    stay in home moms,
  78. yoga instructors, and many many others.
  79. And the words are different, but
  80. the jest of what they write me is all
  81. the same and they say, “I identify with
  82. your drinking story.
  83. I don’t have a rock bottom either,
  84. I want to be able to drink socially,
    but I end up regretting
  85. how much I drink on a frequent basis."
  86. This gray area drinking spectrum is real
  87. and it’s large.
    And a lot of high achieving,
  88. high functioning people who
  89. silently live here every day.
  90. But beyond gray area drinking is
    even something
  91. bigger and that’s a collective story
    of anxiety.
  92. And this I believe is where we are
  93. collectively missing the mark.
  94. We don’t need anymore cognitive hoops to
  95. jump through and we don’t need anymore
  96. ways to focus our will power and contort
  97. our will power in an attempt
    to “fix” ourselves,
  98. what we need is practical training
  99. in how to nourish our nervous system
  100. in a revolutionary and new way.
  101. So there is many components and
    pieces to this,
  102. but one component and one
  103. interesting place to start can be
  104. understanding your neurotransmitters.
  105. So let’s start with GABA.
  106. So GABA is the natural anti-anxiety
  107. When GABA is low we can feel anxious
  108. and our mind can get stuck in
    a loop of worry,
  109. rumination or obsession about anything.
  110. Serotonin is the natural anti-depressant
  111. When serotonin is low we can feel
  112. more depressed, unhappy, and crave
    things like
  113. carbs and alcohol and have trouble
  114. Dopamine is the neurotransmitter that’s
    in charge
  115. of our focus and motivation.
  116. When dopamine’s low it can be hard
    to stay at a coarse
  117. and stay on track with your goals
  118. and your routines.
  119. So people with low GABA people will often
  120. say that they drink as a way to relax.
  121. That was me. People with low serotonin
  122. will say they drink as a way to have fun,
  123. and people with low dopamine will say they
  124. drink as a way to connect
  125. and engage with others.
  126. But here’s the problem and here is what I
    want to you know and take from this talk —
  127. It can be relatively easy for most people
  128. on the gray area drinking spectrum
  129. to stop drinking,
  130. but it can be hard to stay stopped,
  131. especially if we are not
  132. replenishing our neurotransmitters and
  133. nourishing our nervous system
  134. in a comprehensive and consistent way.
  135. So here’s the good news, it turns out that
  136. there is actually specific foods,
    movements and lifestyle practices that
  137. while they are great wellness tips for
  138. everyone, they have very direct and
  139. immediate roles in boosting all of our
  140. neurotransmitters.
  141. So as a way to give you some practical
  142. ways that you can begin to boost your
  143. neurotransmitters now I’d like to start by
  144. doing that by using the acronym “NOURISH”.
  145. So N - notice nature.
  146. Research shows that when our pleasure,
  147. which is dopamine,
  148. and our happiness, which is serotonin,
  149. both begin to rise when we go into areas
  150. with a large density of trees or a large
  151. body of water like an ocean.
  152. All it takes is 20 minutes
  153. of being around nature with
  154. a lot of trees, a lot of water for your
  155. GABA, serotonin, and dopamine
  156. to begin to rise.
  157. O - observe your breath.
  158. There are many medications that can stunt,
  159. blunt, and block
  160. the fight-flight-freeze response
  161. in your body, there are no medications
  162. that can boost the calm response.
  163. But there is one mechanism in your body
  164. that can do that naturally.
  165. And that mechanism is your breath.
  166. When our breath is regulated our
  167. neurotransmitters become regulated.
  168. Take a breath!
  169. How does that feel?
  170. You all just gave a little boost
  171. to your GABA, serotonin, and dopamine.
  172. U - uniting with others.

  173. The research is solid: close social bonds,
  174. community, and social connections have
  175. a direct impact on our nervous system.
  176. In our technology driven world
  177. we have become very deficient
  178. of human touch.
  179. Hug the people who support you,
  180. hug your pets, get body work,
  181. massage or Reiki, it doesn't matter,
  182. whatever resonates with you.
  183. Physical touch has an immediate impact
  184. on boosting GABA, serotonin and dopamine.
  185. R - replenish with food.
  186. When you eat protein,
  187. whether it’s animal protein or
  188. vegetable protein, it doesn’t matter,
  189. it breaks down into amino acids and amino
  190. acids are what replenish GABA, serotonin,
  191. and dopamine.
  192. When you eat healthy fats,
  193. particularly in the form of Omega 3 fats
  194. like fish oil, flax seeds, or walnuts,
  195. those Omega 3 fats are the raw materials
  196. that make your neurotransmitters.
  197. When you eat carbohydrates, specifically
  198. in the ideal form of vegetables,
  199. and even more specific,
  200. leafy green vegetables,
  201. they break down into B vitamins and
  202. B vitamins are the pre-cursors that make
  203. serotonin. When you replenish with food
  204. you replenish your neurotransmitters.
  205. I - initiate movement. Any exercise will
  206. boost the neurotransmitters.
  207. The Boston University did a study with
  208. yoga participants and they had them do
  209. a 60-minute yoga class.
  210. And then when they measured
  211. they're GABA after that class
  212. they found everyone’s GABA went up
    at least 27%.
  213. Some participants had
  214. arising GABA up to 80%.
  215. Compared to a control group
  216. that read a book for 60 minutes,
  217. there was no change in their GABA.
  218. One 60-minute yoga class
  219. can initiate a boost in all
  220. your neurotransmitters.
  221. But after we active, we need to be still.
  222. S - sitting in stillness allows
  223. the nervous system the opportunity
  224. to respond and adopt in a complex world
  225. that we live and work in
  226. in a very nurusing way.
  227. And particularly sitting in stillness and silence,
  228. invoking a sacred
    prayer, meditation, or scripture
  229. can really feed and replenish your GABA,
  230. serotonin, and dopamine.
  231. H - harness your creativity.
  232. Dopamine loves the creative flow.
  233. And the way you get into a creative flow
    is to pick a single focused activity
  234. that ends en “ing”.
  235. Some examples are gardening,
  236. fishing, painting.
  237. But be careful because there are some
  238. other activities that end en “ing”
  239. that make us feel like we get
  240. a dopamine hit: drinking, smoking,
  241. Fishing, painting, the positive hobbies
  242. boost your dopamine.
  243. The other: drinking, smoking, overeating
  244. depletes dopamine. Harnish your
  245. creativity, but be very conscientious
  246. how you doing that.
  247. As of today, It has been 1054 days
  248. since I’ve had a drink of alcohol.
  249. But I didn’t have a rock bottom moment
  250. that brought me to this point
  251. and you don’t need to have one either.
  252. From the outside looking in my drinking
  253. didn’t look problematic,
  254. but from the inside looking out
  255. at the road I was traveling down
  256. I knew the way I was drinking
  257. was a problem for me.
  258. And I’m not the only one
  259. making this decision.
  260. There are thousands of people in
    this country,
  261. in the U.K., Australia, and Canada
  262. who are rethinking their drinking
  263. and stopping drinking because
  264. they choose to, not because they have to.
  265. A whole paradigm is shifting
  266. and we up on a whole new wellness movement
  267. starting to go alcohol free.
  268. But I’ll be honest there were two things
  269. I worried about when I stopped drinking.
  270. And the first was: what would happen with
  271. my relationships? This one surprised me.
  272. The important relationships in my life,
  273. family stuck by me, but they deepened.
  274. And I look back at all the new wonderful
  275. people who who had entered my life in
  276. the last 3 years, some of them drink,
  277. some of them don’t, but our relationship
  278. is not built on my personal decision
    to not drink.
  279. We’ve been able to connect and
  280. relate and we’re aligned in a way
  281. that is new for me.
  282. And it’s been really really
  283. nourishing to add these relationships
    to my life.
  284. The second thing I worried about was what
  285. if something awful happened and it would
  286. be so painful that I’ll want to numb it
  287. with a glass or a bottle of wine?
  288. That worry came true. Eighteen months into
  289. not drinking I hit my worse personal
  290. financial crisis in my life.
  291. If there was ever a time when I wanted
  292. to numb the experience
  293. and anesthetize the intense
  294. anxiety and fear that I felt that was
    the time.
  295. But I didn’t do it.
  296. And I believe the reason I got through
  297. that time without drinking wasn’t because
  298. I had an intellectual understanding of
  299. the nervous system, which I do, but
  300. intellectualizing something is what gets
  301. me through something. And it wasn’t
  302. because I had a strong will power, which

  303. I don’t, my will power fatigue is as much
  304. as the next person. But what I had was
  305. a very targeted and specific nourishment
  306. that I had given my nervous system
  307. leading up to that point in a very new and
  308. different way. And that had given me
  309. a zone of resilience and internal zone
  310. of resilience that I’ve never had before.
  311. So whatever road you’re on, wherever
  312. you are on that road with your own
  313. internal conversation, whether you’re
  314. a healthcare professional like myself,
  315. a business professional in any industry,
  316. a stay at home parent or anyone else,
  317. if you know in your bones that you’re in
  318. the gray area with drinking or anything
  319. else as an attempt to regulate the anxiety
  320. in your body or the discomfort in your
    life, don’t forget:
  321. your GABA, your serotonin,
  322. and your dopamine are waiting for you
  323. to activate them with
  324. certain foods, movements and lifestyle
  325. practices, and when you do that
  326. you’re giving your nervous system the
  327. nourishment it’s been craving all along.
  328. Thank you!