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Soft Addictions: What’s Your Dirty Little Indulgence?

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Email, Coffee, TV, Procrastination, DVR, Facebook, Shopping (online and otherwise), Working Out, and listening to music can all be soft addictions. Basically anything done in excess is a soft addiction. Considered different from “big” addictions like drugs or alcohol, these seemingly harmless habits can wreack havoc on your life.

Apparently, over 90% of people admit to having soft addictions, according to soft addiction self-help guru Judith Wright. In an article found on WebMD, Nadine Kaslow, PhD professor of psychology and behavioral sciences at Emory University in Atlanta, says that you have to ask yourself, “how excessive is the behavior?” She stated that diversions have a place in our lives as a way to de-stress, and cope. However, when those diversions start taking over your life, for instance when you can’t bear to start your day without your Starbucks coffee, that’s when the red flags should be going up. Or when you mindlessly watch Letterman from your bed at night instead of interacting with your spouse or sleeping, then you may have a problem.

I polled my friends on Facebook (I swear I was only on long enough to post the question, then fielded the answers via my mobile), and found most are ‘addicted’ to Starbucks and their DVRs. I also love both, but could live without them — not easily, but I’m confident I could do it.

I would have to say that anything that helps me procrastinate from doing my work is my downfall, be it Facebook, email, IM, household chores, or working out. I also am a music junkie. I make excuses that “these things will only take a short amount of time, and then I can get to my work.” Then before I know it, it’s noon and I’ve barely gotten any work done. I also don’t have co-workers, per se, so I rationalize that the time I spend doing these things is time I otherwise might spend chatting in a co-worker’s cubicle, or sitting idle in meetings. Luckily my job is one I can do any time of day. But these time-stealers sometimes leave me with no option but to hammer away on my work computer feverishly editing pages after the kids have gone to bed, or on weekends. I purposely have to not log-on when I really need to get stuff done.

Some tips from Wright about overcoming soft addictions include (full article reference below):
• Start by identifying one bad habit.
• Find other, more nourishing things that you enjoy.
• Take time to write down a bigger vision of your life.
• Don’t worry if breaking bad habits seems difficult.

“Let it Go: Taming Soft Addictions,” by Jeanie Lerche Davis
Net Addiction Quizzes

Christine Jeffries is a writer/editor for work and at heart, and lives in a home of testosterone with her husband and two sons. She started a women’s group, The Wo-Hoo! Society in the interests of friendship, networking, and philanthropy. The group meets separately on a monthly basis in the Phoenix and Kansas City areas. Christine is interested in women’s health and promoting strong women.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.


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