Multiple Effects of Stress, including Addiction
“My recovery must come first,
so that everything I love in life doesn’t have to come last.”
Stress is typically associated with the demands and overload of work, financial or relationship issues as the primary influences or stressors. We can all acknowledge the impact stress has upon our mental and emotional wellbeing. However, the effects of stress upon one’s physical health can have devastating consequences.
Worldwide, medical practitioners confirm approximately 90% of all illnesses and diseases are stress related. One of the primary reasons stress is associated with illness and disease is because the stress response chemicals contribute towards an acidic pH in the body; the perfect environment or breeding ground for many diseases and illnesses to thrive. The other is that stress can cause inflammation; hence the multiple unexplained aches and pains stressed people may suffer from. Lastly, stress impairs the immune system – our natural defence mechanism against all illness and disease.
Nonetheless, in order to achieve the maximum benefits and successfully overcome stress related issues, it is imperative to review stress from a holistic point of view. As such, there are two primary areas that must be explored and taken into consideration when addressing the negative impact stress has on the physical body.
The first of which is poor diet, nutrition and dehydration. Whilst the second is the harmful effects brought about by unresolved emotional issues such as trauma, grief, fear, resentment, guilt, hatred, etc. If either one or both of these two primary areas is incorrectly managed, this simply compounds the stressful and detrimental effects on the physical body.
Both our diet and emotions have a direct impact, and thus influence mental faculties and emotional capabilities in handling with life’s day to day external stressors. Undoubtedly, holistic health is vital in maintaining homeostasis and complete wellbeing. A balanced lifestyle creates a solid secure foundation, which provides the platform for managing stress successfully.
Moreover, it is imperative to reduce one’s stress levels to an absolute minimum in all aspects of our lives. Today, there is sufficient scientific evidence to sway even the most hard core sceptic who believes their body can withstand anything they swallow. Firstly by partaking of healthy, life supporting and sustainable nutrition, including being well hydrated at all times. Well hydrated specifically means drinking plain, pure still water – not sodas, teas, coffee, energy drinks or alcoholic beverages. Although I’m neither a medical practitioner nor nutritionist, this is basic common logic, and I cannot emphasise this enough for stress relief.
Today, most of our food has little or no nutritional value because this is destroyed in the food manufacturing processing plants. Food is being refined, altered by heat treatments, contains harmful chemical additives, flavourants and preservatives, etc. None of which support the bodies desperate need for wholesome quality nutrition to sustain and survive the rigorous onslaughts of daily stressful living. Whatever happened to good old fashioned home grown, organic healthy food packed with vital, sustaining nutrition? No reasonable thinking man would ever consider pouring gallons of soda pop into a petrol or diesel tank to power a vehicle from city to city, right? Then why on earth do we?
The second imperative, and logical step, is to find appropriate ways in which to deal with and resolve emotional issues of the past. Emotional pain, grief and loss, trauma, depression, anger, guilt, remorse, shame and stress, etc. have a profoundly negative impact on our bodies. These negative emotions are stored in the body at a deep cellular level, and even cellular memory can be affected; the net effect is disease and illness. This is far from being ‘whoo-whoo’ or ‘mumbo-jumbo’ new age talk. The ancients totally understood this natural wisdom, especially eastern practitioners like the Chinese and Indians.
Nowadays, internationally renowned authors, teachers and doctors have well documented the detrimental effects of unresolved emotional issues on the physical body. The likes of Louise L. Hay, Dr Bruce Lipton, Dr Wayne Dyer, Dr Greg Braden, Dr Mercola, Dr Eric Robins, Gary Craig and Donna Eden are but a few of the modern day, renowned western metaphysical teachers who have been at the forefront in awakening people to the important role unresolved emotional issues have on the physical body’s health and well being. Acquiring resolution of unresolved, emotional events or memories of the past is both imperative and integral for holistic health and wellbeing, and stress simply melts away.
Unfortunately, most people are completely oblivious to the fact that the majority of their stress responses are being triggered well below their conscious awareness. This is the real danger of stress, and precisely why stress is known as the ‘Silent Killer’.
A simple stress response can trigger a host of reactions such as anxiety, panic attacks, depression, fear, insecurity, weepiness, anger, frustration or irritability but also addictive behaviours for an unsuspecting individual. Addictions include comfort or binge eating, (including anorexia or bulimic disorders), excessive sleeping, compulsive retail therapy, social media, gym, running, sugar, sex, porn, gambling, drugs, smoking and alcoholism – all are psychological attempts to quell the detrimental negative effects of stress related issues.
Of course, it goes without saying, an addiction to or compulsive partaking of junk foods, cakes, sweets, alcohol etc is neither healthy nor conducive to resolving stress related issues. Regrettably sugar is also one of the worst contributors towards illness and disease. Sugar, like stress, creates an acidic pH environment in the body; the perfect breeding ground for both illness and disease to thrive. The combination of stress and sugar is a double whammy!
This interesting excerpt adapted from Engs, R.C. Alcohol and Other Drugs reiterates points made on addictive behaviour:
“According to various authors in the book The Addictive Behaviours, individuals with compulsive disorders, including alcoholism, gambling, overeating, or smoking, often increase negative behaviour, or undergo a relapse, after they have been through a stressful time period. Herman and Polivy feel that emotional stress leads to increases in binge eating. Hooker and Convisser believe that anger resulting from stressful situations also plays a part in some addictive disorders. As an example, individuals who do no express anger outwardly often turn it inward. When this occurs, it may lead to depression. To relieve the discomfort they feel because they have not expressed their anger, these individuals begin to overeat or engage in other addictive behaviours.
Some researchers feel that stress contributes to addictive behaviours. Individuals begin to use the drugs as a way of relieving the anxiety and tension associated with the stress response and to feel good. However, getting involved with substances or any other addictive behaviour only increases the anxiety and stress, thus perpetuating a vicious cycle. Why some individuals engage in an addictive behaviour or develop an illness while others do not is not known at this time. Perhaps an individual inherits a “trait” to develop a health or an addictive behaviour problem. Depending upon early family or environmental influences, including ways of coping with everyday stressors, the person either learns to cope with stress in a positive manner or develops physical, emotional or addictive behaviour problems.”
Bridget’s comprehensive book, Stress Gone! How to Identify and Reduce Stress Easily covers beneficial and practical information, exercises and techniques to adequately and effectively cope with, and release stress related issues, including addictions, trauma, grief and loss, depression etc.
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