Remember these words: The poison is in the dose. They apply to all of the following nine items in this rogue's gallery of dangerous things we commonly do to relieve anxiety, stress and boredom. Every one of the following items has a split personality. They may be (and frequently are) a source of pleasure but all have the potential to wreck havoc with your life and health.

Watching TV
Every major study has found a strong relationship between TV watching and obesity. According to research in the Journal of the American Medical Association, for every two-hour increase in TV watching there's a 23 percent increase in obesity and a 14 percent increase in the risk of diabetes. It also exposes you to thousands of commercials for junk foods, many of which you consume while watching. Pick a few of your favorite programs and the rest of the time step away from the couch.

Drinking
Though (very) moderate drinking has some health benefits, don't overlook the dark side of this drug. Alcohol kills more than 100,000 Americans a year and is a factor in almost 50 percent of all U.S. traffic deaths. Almost 18 million adults in the U.S. abuse it, and almost no one starts out believing they'll be one of the ones who will develop an alcohol problem. Alcohol is highly addictive, depletes nutrients, shortens lives, damages relationships, and usually brings out the worst in people. And if you're drinking to forget, guess what? When you wake up whatever you were trying to forget is still there.

Smoking
Smoking kills ... period. Smokers have twice the risk of heart attack, two to four times the risk of cardiac arrest, and smoking accounts for almost a third of all cancer deaths and 90 percent of deaths from lung cancer. Besides the nicotine and tar, there are a couple of thousand known chemicals in cigarette smoke including 43 known to cause cancer. Guess what — it's just not cool. And, it makes your breath stink.

Smoking Marijuana
Sure it's natural, but so is gasoline and poison ivy. Yes it's legal in some states, and yes, it has some real medicinal uses. Regular marijuana use can lead to short-term memory loss, personality disturbances, depression and more of the very anxiety you hoped to cure by smoking it in the first place. A common bad reaction is acute panic anxiety reaction ... not very relaxing.

Compulsive Running
One form of compulsive running is called exercise bulimia, a form of exercise whose main purpose is to purge the body of unwanted calories rather than to build fitness and health. High-intensity exercise, done repeatedly and compulsively, has no joy in it. It also raises cortisol, a stress hormone that shrinks an important part of the brain involved in memory, and expands an important part of the body involved in looking good — your waist.

Video Games
Video games helped create a nation of young people who never talk to each other without using their fingers, but even worse, overuse of games desensitizes and isolates. Constant gaming helps program the brain to expect instant rewards, shortens the expected time between cause and effect, and makes long-term planning and nuanced thinking difficult. Your own imagination is the greatest entertainment device in the world.

Late Night Eating
Late night eating is synonymous with junk food overdose. When stressed, tired or anxious, the hormone cortisol sends a signal to your brain to refuel for the coming emergency, usually on fat and sugar which is why no one ever comforts themselves with Brussels sprouts. Late night eating also increases insulin, the fat storage hormone, and virtually guarantees you won't burn fat while you sleep. One tried and true diet strategy is to stop eating after 7PM.

Online Chat Rooms
Chat rooms are seductive because they have none of the three-dimensional messiness of real life. That's their appeal, but it could also be your downfall. It's all too easy and tempting to replace your real identity with your virtual one; who wouldn't want to be 20 pounds lighter and 20 years younger? Cyber relationships can lead you into some pretty addictive — and ultimately isolating — behavior. Paradoxically, you wind up lonelier than when you started.

Risky Sex
Sex has a lot in common with investing in the stock market. Both can be thrilling and dangerous, or they can provide you with a source of security and pleasure that will last a lifetime. The one big difference between stocks and sex is that unlike the market, you can get all of the pleasure, thrill and excitement of sex without any of the risk. All you have to do is be smart about it. Playing Russian roulette with your health isn't cool, it's stupid. Sex with a condom produces just as much a rush of oxytocin and dopamine — the feel-good chemicals — as unprotected sex. Plus you'll sleep well afterwards, guaranteeing you'll have enough energy (and health) to repeat the experience.

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  1. anney Says:

    I'm guilty with late night eating and eating while watching a movie! Arrrgh!


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