You may know that I’m a pharmacist and that I love my profession. Drugs are fascinating to me and I find it so interesting that you can take a tiny pill or capsule and it causes certain effects within your body. I loved the science so much that I planned to be practicing pharmacy until I was 70.
Join me this week as I tell you why managing your thoughts is better than pills. Who knew we came programmed with a pharmacy in our heads……this is so exciting! And I can’t wait to share more with you inside this episode.
You are listening to the Drink Less Lifestyle Podcast with Dr. Sherry Price, episode number 17.
Welcome to Drink Less Lifestyle, a podcast for successful women who want to change their relationship with alcohol. If you want to drink less, feel healthier and start loving life again you’re in the right place. Please remember that the information in this podcast does not constitute medical advice. Now, here’s your host, Dr. Sherry Price.
Hello my friends. How are things going in your world? Well, in my world over here we finally started our kitchen remodel project. Yes, we have been talking about redoing our kitchen for a few years now. Actually I think it started back in 2018. But we just really weren’t ready to take the plunge then. And then of course last year in 2020 things started to really break down in our kitchen, which was pretty on par for how things were going in 2020.
So it started out with our oven, it would randomly shut off after it was cooking for 20 or 25 minutes. And then it would make this loud beeping sound that we couldn’t shut off. And once the beeping sound finally shut off on its own, sometimes it was 10 minutes; sometimes it was longer than that. We would find that then the oven couldn’t be turned back on for a number of days. So this would just randomly and sporadically happen.
Then it was our icemaker dispenser in our fridge, it would make ice but it just wouldn’t have the ability dispense it. When you pushed the button nothing came down. And so we repaired that, not once, but we actually had a repair guy come out twice because it broke yet again. And so when we said after the second time, “If it breaks we’ll just let it go”, which of course it did break again and then a few months after that it just stopped making ice altogether.
Now, let’s turn to the attention of our stove. We have a five burner stove and two of those burners just never lit and never worked. So was comical as we were going through 2020 saying, “Yes, I really think our kitchen needs to be upgraded now.” So we reached out to some contractors to help us with the project. And it seems that everybody is redoing their kitchen in 2020 because nobody could take us right away. Everybody’s like, “You have to get in line, there’s so many remodels. I can’t take you, I’m so busy and I’m so swamped,” which is a great problem for them to have.
And so we did, we got in line, we set our date for the beginning of 2021, so happy we did because a few weeks after that our microwave just decided to go berserk and not work either. So we have been very much looking forward to this remodel. And I know we’re just getting started. We had the jackhammers here today, things are getting demoed and ripped out which was so fun to listen to. And now when I walk into my kitchen everything’s gone which is kind of cool and we’re still in that excitement phase.
But everybody does warn us, “You just wait, about four or six weeks in when things aren’t scheduled, or they’re not going as planned, or things are back ordered, this can drag on for a long time and you get kind of weary.” But we are super excited right now. We cannot wait to have working appliances and a kitchen that we get to design and pick out things. And I think the whole process is so fun. So I’m super excited because now I get to record this podcast since it’s finally quiet back in my household.
So I want to start out by reading to you an email that I received a few weeks ago from a previous client of mine who was in the Drink Less Lifestyle program. Her name is Aron and she and I worked together over a year ago. And here’s what she writes, “I wanted to let you know that I just celebrated my one year anniversary of being alcohol free on December 3rd. Today is my 385th day without any alcohol and I’ve never felt better. I turn 40 in a couple of days and this has been the best gift I could ever have given myself.
I am so grateful to you for getting me started on this journey and helping me realize that moderation for me is a mirage. I feel healthy, free, more present and more proud than I have in years. Thank you so much for getting me started on this path.” Now, I remember when Aron first came to me and how out of control she felt with her drinking. It really bothered her because she didn’t want to set this example for her young daughter. And she felt terrible about the habit and overdoing it.
And I know she tried to cut back but she found that it was just simply easier for her not to have any of it and just to let it all go. And we worked on letting it all go; all of the meanings she had placed on alcohol and letting go of how important it was in her life. And that was just the profound transformation she went through. I’m so proud of you Aron and thank you for sharing your story so that you can inspire others. And as you know, inspire is my word for 2021.
Alright now let’s dive into today’s topic. And I have to admit this topic lights me up. And I’ve titled this podcast better than pills. So I want to explain why I’ve chosen better than pills as the topic for today’s podcast. So many of you know that I am a pharmacist and I practiced as a pharmacist for 20 plus years. And I absolutely love my profession. Actually I didn’t even plan a career change. I really thought I would be practicing pharmacy until I was 70 years old. I truly love the practice of pharmacy.
And you may have heard me say it in the past, and maybe more than once that I love pills. I love drugs. It’s like my jam. I love learning about them, I love understanding how they work in the body and I just totally geek out on this topic. I find it so fascinating how you can take a medication, this tiny pill or this tiny capsule and it can cause certain effects in your body. Pills are so powerful.
I mean just think about it, if you take a pill because you have high blood pressure, this tiny pill or capsule sets off a cascade of chemicals in your body that result in a reduction in your blood pressure, just this one pill. Or how a medicine can be used to treat diabetes by either lowering your blood sugar or lowering your A1C and really prevent further complications from the disease of diabetes itself.
Or how about during a code when a person’s heart has stopped beating or has erratic beating that you could give it medication and it could get the heart started again or it can rectify an irregular heart pattern, powerful life saving. I even think drugs are miraculous, they really cause miracles. So this is how my brain is wired. I just find this topic of how this chemical cascade in your body takes place to cause a certain type of response from chemicals that we find in nature and putting them to a pill like fashion, or an injectable.
So the whole process starts from swallowing the pill and seeing how it gets absorbed and where it works in the body and how it changes the current state of the body to cause a different state or a different response in the body. And in my previous career being in academia and having a teaching company to help pharmacy students pass their boards, I was talking about drugs and their effects all the time. So as you can see, drugs are so incredibly fascinating to me.
And then I remember when I discovered life coaching, I couldn’t believe how powerful these tools were to getting the results that I wanted in my life. I would tell my husband all the time, “This is better than pills. I can’t believe it, this stuff is more powerful than pills”, hence my career change. And that’s because I learned your thoughts are the most powerful pharmacy in the world.
Do you know that just by what you think sets an entire chemical cascade through your body, releasing certain hormones and neurotransmitters and other chemicals that will make you feel a certain way? You can literally change the way you feel or the way you act just by the thoughts that you have.
So I want you to try this out with me. So think about you might be walking down an unfamiliar street in an unfamiliar city, it’s really dark at night and you’re in this alley and you’re walking down the alley. And you start to hear some footsteps behind you. And they’re kind of faint but then they seem to get a little louder and you’re listening intently. And you’re focusing on these footsteps. And you don’t know if it’s your mind or not but they actually sound like they’re getting louder and then they’re quickening, and that they’re getting closer to you.
And if you’re anything like me you might start gripping your purse or you might start thinking should I run? Should I turn around and see if this person is going to attack me? What is the best thing I should be doing because I kind of feel unsafe right now? Now, at this point your brain, at least my brain is a 100% sure that I’m in danger because of the thoughts that I’m having. And I just sent off a whole chemical cascade in my body that is pumping out things like norepinephrine and cortisol. And now my adrenalin is running on high.
So my thoughts totally activated my sympathetic nervous system, your flight or fight response. My heart is racing, breathing faster. I’m intensely concentrating and focusing on my safety and what to do next. And my body’s getting ready to run or freeze, so it’s that flight, or fight, or freeze mode. And this is all created by just the thoughts that I’m having. I have actually no idea if those footsteps behind me have any intent on harming me or not. My brain has no idea if I am in true danger or I’m just imagining my danger.
But those thoughts that I had, created a chemical cascade where I felt like I was in immediate danger and of course my body responded for survival, that’s how we are wired and thankfully so because if I truly am in danger, yes, I do want my body to respond that way. I do want my body to get me to safety, to think of the right next thing to do, to not think about all the to do’s on my list. But just to think how do I get to safety, should I run, should I pull out my cell phone, what should I do next?
So we have that similar response a lot of times not even when we’re in a dark alley thinking our lives are in danger or could be in danger. We have a similar response just brought on by daily anxiety and stress especially nowadays. I’m hearing it a lot in the women that I work with and the women that I coach. And I want to tell you that anxiety is a feeling and it’s a feeling brought on by your thoughts. And anxiety is brought on by thoughts of the future. Did you catch that? It’s our thoughts that create this chemical cascade within our body that leads us to feel a certain way.
So our thoughts create our feelings, meaning we have this amazing ability to control how we feel by the power of our thoughts. Let me demonstrate this in another example for you.
Maybe you felt fear as I was telling you the story in the dark alley. Now let’s imagine that Covid is over, it’s done, we’re back to life without Covid. Actually let’s just pretend we found a miraculous cure. I know that’s usually not possible with a virus, let’s just go there. Let’s just pretend for fun, kids pretend all the time, we can do that as adults. So we have no more Covid and let’s also pretend we got a large sum of money. And we can actually go and travel to our favorite place in the world. Where is that place for you?
Now how do you feel knowing Covid’s gone, you got this money and that you can travel somewhere or go to your favorite spot? You probably feel excited, elated, exhilarated even, or maybe just happy. Now, for me that favorite place to travel to would be Nice. Our family has gone there for the past three summers, well, excluding 2020 because our trip got cancelled because of Covid. And we just love it there. We talk about and fantasize about living there for part of the year some day. And even my daughter loves it there.
And when we go we rent the same Airbnb each time. So I have to say it kind of feels like our second home. So when I start talking about being able to go back, my heart starts pounding with excitement, just by the thought of it. It’s not even actually happening and my brain doesn’t even know if it’s actually happening or not, that’s not the point. The point is the thoughts about it as a possibility of happening can start creating that feeling for me.
It’s kind of like when you do plan a trip, let’s say you plan it months in advance say six months in advance. You get the benefit of enjoying that anticipation of going for a full six months. That’s part of the joy of planning the trip. It’s not just going but all the anticipation leading up to it. And I know this is how a lot of people feel around the holidays or Christmas. It’s the anticipation of the fun, and the festivities, and getting to see people. And all of that can lead to this, again this chemical cascade causing these feelings.
And so when we actually experience this we’re elated and we have joy and which is why after the event goes, Christmas goes and you come back from vacation, you don’t have those thoughts anymore so your body now transitions usually to a low point to like I’m back and now back to reality. Or now I have to take down the decorations.
And now if we change our thoughts to say being on the beach, just think about being on the beach. I don’t know. That to me is another happy place for me. I love to listen to the rhythmic sounds of the waves, the ebb and the flow. I love to feel some warm sunshine on my skin. And a lot of times smell and feel that salty warm air, that breeze coming off the ocean. And for me when I get in that space I just feel calm, I feel relaxed, being in that environment is creating these thoughts for me that now activate my parasympathetic nervous system.
So now I’m secreting acetylcholine and other chemicals that are causing relaxation and causing me to feel calm. So although we credit being at the ocean, actually what’s happening is our thoughts that change while we’re in that environment. It’s not actually the ocean. It’s the thoughts of being at the beach. Because I have to say, there might be other people, even maybe you listening to this podcast, if you go to the beach it’s not your happy place. You’d rather be in the mountains or be at the lake or maybe you don’t like all that sand getting everywhere.
So this brings me back to episode number seven where I talked about the think, feel, act cycle. And so here I want you to really think about this powerful pharmacy inside of our heads. So your thoughts inside your brain create this chemical cascade that lead to feelings inside your body, now there’s no copays, no worrying about insurance coverage. It’s available to all of us, this pharmacy, this awesome pharmacy in our mind if we decide to use this amazing tool. It’s a skill that you learn to tap into.
And seriously, I really want all of you to realize how powerful this is and how to tap into it for yourself. Because this is the process I used to change my desire for alcohol, because desire is nothing more than a feeling. And that’s why this work is so fundamental if you want to change a habit of drinking, or a habit of overdrinking. Because we know focusing on the drink isn’t the answer, at least it wasn’t for me, it always failed me, putting rules around my drinking, spacing it out.
All the things that I talked about that I did in the past was all about the drink and focusing on the drink but that’s not the real problem. The problem is the desire, the over-desire that we have for alcohol. So once you know the problem to focus on, you can start taking steps to break the habit because we know exactly what is creating the habit, and it’s not the alcohol, it’s the desire. So that’s why it’s important to know why you think you’re drinking and what is causing your drinking. It’s those thoughts.
What thoughts are you having that are creating the desire for the alcohol? And again once you know this part you can start doing the work, you can start changing that chemical cascade that’s creating that feeling of desire and creating those urges. You can use the pharmacy that is already in your brain. And when you change your thoughts, that’s how you change your desire.
And as you hear me say this you may be thinking yes, yes, I get it, I get it, I get it, but this is hard. And I have to say it is hard at first but so is everything in life when you’re first learning it. You didn’t get good at your job instantly. You weren’t great at day one. Actually you’re much more valuable to your employer now than you were on day one or the first week of starting your job. So the more you do something we know the easier it gets. And the quicker you learn because you’re already building on a foundation of skill.
And once you don’t have the desire that you did for alcohol, guess what begins to happen? It’s easy to stay in control. It’s easy to say no to a drink. It’s easy not to go to the liquor store on your way home or after work. And it’s easy not to go down those aisles in the grocery store that sell alcohol because you don’t have the urges and the desire anymore. You don’t need it and you don’t even want it.
And what I love is knowing that I have this power to tap into this, it also allowed me to tap into finding joy in my life because when I was drinking it was numbing those emotions of feeling good. And it’s a depressant, so we naturally become more depressed the more we drink. And I know we know that intellectually but it’s really true. It really ratchets it up, the depression rate; it really ratchets up the anxiety rate. This has been proven over and over again.
So when we begin to shift our brains away from alcohol and not desire it, guess what also happens? We can tap into this natural pharmacy, start building up joy again in our life. Now, there are other ways to tap into your mind. I know for myself I have tried to meditate in the past. I’ve tried meditation. I know the benefits of meditation. There is so much data on the benefits of meditation. I have taken classes in the past and I’ve been to trainings where they guide you through a meditation. And I have to say it’s not been fun for me, it’s been really difficult.
I happen to be the one who’s opening one eye looking around the room going oh my gosh, is this really working for everybody because the teacher sounds so calm? But my mind is racing. And actually the more she’s trying to tell me to still it or not think about things, the more I’m thinking about things and the more restless I’m becoming. I’m probably the ideal candidate and the ideal person who needs meditation but every time I try it I feel like the biggest failure and I feel like it creates more anxiety in my life. And I don’t know. It just doesn’t work for me.
I have tried, I have tried numerous types of mediation, programs, apps, all of the things but I really don’t enjoy it and I find it so difficult to clear my mind. I notice that my mind likes to think. So this strategy is so effective for me, not only do I see how this process works on an intellectual level. Because I’m able to associate it with something that’s so familiar to me like drugs, and how they cause a chemical cascade in the body and how that thought process that I just walked you through, causes a chemical cascade and causes us to feel something, so instantly I get it intellectually.
The examples make sense, I identify with that, I can feel that reaction in my body. So knowing that it works intellectually and seeing it work a little bit in my life and then the more I practice it, seeing how it gets better results for me in my life makes me want to just keep coming back to do it, because you don’t have to quiet your mind.
You have to actually investigate and interrogate what’s going on in your mind. And that to me is so much easier. And like I said, the more I do it the better I get at it. For me I actually joke, it’s kind of like my Zoloft, or my Celexa, or my Lexapro for my mind because it really gets me out of these spirals, or this depression, or this place that I could get to which my mind can turn on it myself.
I can go into those self-sabotage moments and I really want a skill where I can learn to break those moments, to break that habit, to break that cycle, to break the self-loathing and the negative self-talk. And one key I want to point out about this is you really have to choose what is the feeling that you want to feel, not just focus on the feeling you don’t want to feel. So it’s not like I’m feeling desire. I’m having urges. I don’t want this. I don’t want to feel desire for alcohol. I don’t want to feel these urges for alcohol.
We talked about that in the podcast episode about how to manage an urge because that’s resisting it. And whatever you focus on, remember, expands. So you’ve got to focus on what you want. And for me a lot of times I love the feeling of calm. If I’m going to pick one feeling that benefits my life the most I have to say that the feeling of calm for me works very well. Now, did I know this initially? No, it’s after trying on different emotions, creating different emotions in my body, thinking I needed to be happy all the time or thinking I needed to feel joy all the time.
Well, I have to say that didn’t work for me and I find that those emotions sometimes are harder to create for me than the emotion of calm. Now, will that be the same for you? I don’t know. You have to test it out. So for me I just make better decisions when I’m calm, the words that come out of my mouth are nicer when I’m calm. I don’t feel like I have to scream, raise my voice, use sailor type of words, use trash talk or any of that. I also feel that when I’m calm I take better actions for myself and better actions for others.
So I think of calm as my antidote when I feel stressed or anxious. And I was just doing this work the other day because although I’m very excited to have a new kitchen there is quite a level of anxiety to move out of your kitchen, not be able to go to a hotel or to a Starbucks in these Covid times. So we have to learn to deal with this while working from home, while doing home school. So all of us need our space, we need to find ways to prep meals that doesn’t include our kitchen.
So of course a lot of this produced anxiety for me because thoughts about the future, how are we going to do this? How are we going to eat? Are we going to be reliant on takeout? How is my diet going to be? I really want to lose weight this month as well and keep to my exercise regime and how is that all going to happen when your normal daily routine has been interrupted? So this is the work I want to do because I want to create calm. I don’t want to create more anxiety.
Now, I’m not saying anxiety has to leave, because that’s resisting it. I’m just saying okay, there is anxiety but I want to change some of it to being calm because I operate at a different level when I’m calm. I operate in ways that work for me and not against me. One of the reasons I love this work so much is because it’s made me become more emotionally resilient, mastering my emotions, not being at the effect of them. It’s allowed me to pivot better and accept change easier and just live my life with more intention. And I didn’t know how to do that exactly in the past.
And I love it that I don’t have to rely on things outside of me to comfort me or to avoid my emotions or to numb them. And this is the work I teach my clients because it’s so much more effective, relearning to rely on yourself so that you don’t rely on alcohol to change your mood, to change your feelings. And when you learn to rely on yourself and you’re not relying on outside things like alcohol, guess what? You don’t get the side-effects. Actually that’s one of the best parts, there’s no unwanted side-effects when you learn to rely on yourself.
And there’s no fine print, there’s no two minute disclaimer at the end of a TV commercial that’s wrapping up, it’s all natural, non-GMO, paleo, keto and vegan approved when you can learn to rely on yourself. And really here’s another great thing, you’re going to get so many other amazing benefits. When you learn to be in charge of your thoughts, and how to change them, and work with this powerful pharmacy in your brain, you get all these amazing benefits. And let me just rattle off a few but there are so many more.
You get better gut health. Your microbiome is healthy because you’re not consuming alcohol and your better gut function which means better digestion, less belly bloat, decreased risk of leaky gut syndrome, all the other things that come with a dysbiosis.
If you’re not drinking so much and you’re learning to rely on yourself, guess what? You’re getting better sleep. And for some maybe that takes a little bit of time, your sleep might be erratic. A lot of people use alcohol to fall asleep and it’s a sleep aid for some people. But over time your body’s going to learn that it can rely on itself and your natural rhythms will kick in. You’ll get better hormone regulation because did you know that alcohol is a hormone disruptor?
You’ll get better brain function and you’ll be clearer minded because you aren’t ingesting so much of this neurotoxin that kills brain cells. If you wonder why you forget things, you wonder why you forget conversations, this is a neurotoxin. Another benefit, it’s easier to maintain your weight because a lot of times when we take these empty carbohydrates and just drink them, sometimes we don’t make smart eating choices as well. So it becomes easier to maintain the weight your body’s meant to be at.
And then we could get into all of the reduced risk of the many different types of cancers like breast cancer that alcohol can cause, because we know alcohol raises estrogen levels. So anything we can do to reduce the amount of alcohol we put in our body is a great thing.
One key thing that I really love is you can learn to feel again. And I know that sounds weird because a lot of us drink not to feel. But you know why you drink not to feel? Because alcohol causes depression and it causes anxiety. So of course the more you drink the more depressed you’re going to get, and the more anxious you’re going to get. And the more you’re going to want to get rid of those feelings and that first glass of alcohol gets rid of all that, but not the next couple of glasses.
So of course you’re going to want to drink when you’re feeling depressed and anxious. But when you stop putting that stuff into your body, guess what? You no longer feel depressed and as anxious, that starts to subside and you start to feel better and now enters joy. Now enters the feelings you’ve also been numbing but haven’t been meaning to numb. So now you feel those little pleasures again in life that were evading you.
Life no longer feels bleak, and stagnant, and just like Groundhog Day. There comes color again and it feels different even though things outside of you didn’t change.
And another one of my favorites is so much more energy. I can’t tell you, once I started drinking I just wanted to be checked out, not get anything done. And I’m not saying not to give yourself rest and recovery, your body absolutely needs that.
But I just became so unmotivated and so unproductive earlier than I needed to be and I was using it as an excuse to, this is my time to relax, when actually it was not only making me unproductive and unmotivated that day. But it was interfering with the next day and how I felt and how I got out of bed in the morning and how much energy I felt the next day. I didn’t feel like I had any, I felt a mild hangover or if it wasn’t full on hangover, I just felt sluggish, and cruddy, and bad about myself, and the self-loathing began.
So when you learn to change all of that, you learn to change your thoughts so you stop overdrinking, you stop taking in so much alcohol the world just becomes so different and that’s just from that one action because your experience of the world is different. The world doesn’t have to change. It’s just that you begin to experience it differently because now your body’s in more regulation. It’s working as it was designed. It doesn’t have to fight and break down this neurotoxin, this chemical that we flood it with.
So just know anything that you put into your body is the raw materials your body has to work with. So if you’re putting in crumby and raw materials you’re not going to get good output. So I say feed your mind the best, give it the best, give it caviar thoughts and not rum and noodle, or spam from a can thoughts. You want high quality thoughts for a high functioning, quality, abundant, joyful life.
And let me tell you, when I over-drank it was so easy for me to focus on how things were bad, or they were unfair, or I was just wallowing in self-pity, or how this needs to change, or I don’t know how to change this, or that overwhelm, or that confusion, and again the self-loathing. But when I began to curtail my drinking I started to change my thoughts and I started believing I could become this woman who can take it or leave it.
And that was a huge shift, even though I wasn’t there yet, just knowing that I was cutting back, I was drinking less, I was feeling this progress, I was feeling more amazing. That kept me motivated to keep going and keeping that belief that I could obtain back to where I used to be, a woman who can take it or leave it with her alcohol.
So my friends I have to say tap into this garden of goodness. You can literally change your inner biology just by using the pharmacy in your mind. This is what I call a key step in self-care and I even like to take it a step further and call it self-health because you are investing in your health when you’re investing in that powerful pharmacy in your brain.
It’s so fun to learn how to do this because now you know how to get the brain to work for you and not against you because our thoughts and our feelings are what determine our actions. And our actions are what become our habits.
Okay my friends, that’s what I have for you today. I love this topic. So utilize that amazing pharmacy that you have so you can create the feelings that you want. And if you want my help on how to do this, to change your desire for alcohol come and check out my Drink Less Lifestyle program. It’s my signature program where you learn how to become a woman who can take it or leave it with her drinking. And you learn so much more. It’s like learning how to manage your stress, and find your joy, and manage these emotions again.
You can apply for a spot in this amazing program at sherryprice.com/drinklesslifestyle. Alright my friends have a beautiful week and I’ll see you next time.
Thanks for listening to Drink Less Lifestyle. If you’re ready to change your relationship with drinking now check out the free guide, How to Effectively Break the Overdrinking Habit at sherryprice.com/startnow. See you next week.