When I gave up smoking–and went back to it, and then gave it up again–I realized that nothing goes as well with vice except for other vices.
Giving up smoking makes you want to smoke–to celebrate, to relieve anxiety, to deal with the fact that–in reality–you need a smoke. It’s the same with drinking and recreational drug use. The more they become parts of your day, the more your life is literally centered around the smoke break, drinks after work, and pills when you don’t really need them.
But we all make those excuses for why it would be better with them.
The same goes for mental and physical health–we avoid real treatment in pursuit of going it alone or patching a hard day with a few extra acetaminophen, aspirin, caffeine, maybe some old painkillers or pain blockers that you just happen to have lying around (or hidden somewhere), waiting for your sore back or headache to call for them.
But there is hope and release for those who haven’t gone to the dark side of drug addiction and those who need more self-care rather than self-medication.
And there’s also hope for those who did go to the dark side of drug addiction–it begins with drug testing. In either case, start here:
Yes, you need that physical and you should take everything the doctor says seriously–whether or not you like it. This is hard for most of us on the other side of teen and 20s metabolism–we don’t want to hear about being pre-diabetic, overweight, and needing to watch what we eat in order to reduce blood pressure and future heart diseases. We just don’t.
We should also realize that when you tell the doctor how many drinks you have a night, they multiply that by two or four. They know you’re lying.
But to be a better man, husband, and dad–and also to be a better professional–you have to head off the future you at the pass. You’re not as young and you can’t eat like a teen–so we need to preemptively take care of ourselves before we get fat and old and in need of medications just to alleviate the effects of the other prescriptions we’re on.
Start that “bucket list” now
Whether you’re in your 20s, 30s, or of a “certain age,” your life should be full of adventure–even the small ones. Explore that hobby. Take that walk. Get into something new, even for a few weeks. You’ll be glad you figured out that you’re really not that into woodworking or golf. But you’d never know until you’re covered in sawdust and sand trap grains.
Take the spouse and kids with you on that journey–it will breathe fresh air into your relationships, and create lasting memories, whatever they are. Because before you know it, you’ll be saying “I wish I had tried the drums” or “I’m too old for rugby,” and that’s a long time to go without whatever thing you thought you might like when you were younger.
And travel. Get the hell out of Dodge every chance you can. Even if it’s an afternoon trip up state for lobster or something with a truffle or aioli sauce, whatever that is.
Walk and drive a little slower
Take time for yourself, whether it’s meditation or journaling, or just slowing down. Saunter when you can. The world is too full of fast cars getting to busy work and then rushing through the day to make a deadline or “win.” You know it starts all over when you’re done this current project, right? You know that you’ll be racing to work at 80 MPH tomorrow morning at 6 a.m., so don’t race right now. Try the right lane for once.
So slow down and take in the scenery a bit. Or else you’ll miss the important stuff in search of “progress” and that illusive ladder to the stars (or the corner office).
Advocate for self-care and your mental and physical needs
You need to advocate for your health to your doctor, friends, family, and even co-workers. Hiding a bottle of bourbon in the bottom of your desk is just as relevant today as it was in the “good old days” of office stress (nothing has changed, right?). But now there are pills for that, and vices that may draw you into a place where you’ll have to spend years getting out of.
And if you are sick–from anxiety or physical distress or even a chronic ailment you’re not telling people about–get help now. Ask for assistance. Confide in a friend and a doctor, and open up your life before it’s too late and your stoic nature has prevented you from being as healthy as possible.
It all sounds a bit impossible, because it’s harder than it seems. We self-medicate because we’d rather not ask for help or see a doctor, and then we let ourselves go. But we’re not really not going anywhere.
Listen–you’re worth it and important enough to get better, and life is too short not to open it up to the best possibilities.
So even if you need a smoke or drink at the end of the day, make it one less ciggy and two less beers.
You’ll thank yourself for it in the end.
This is paid content as part of a partnership between The Good Men Project and US Drug Test Centers.
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