stress [stress] n
strain felt by somebody: mental, emotional, or physical strain caused, e.g. by anxiety or overwork. (Microsoft Word Dictionary)
Money. Relationships. Work. People. Responsibility. Worries about the future. So many things in our lives can cause stress. How we cope with stress is essentially important to the health of our whole being. I personally believe that most addiction comes from an inability to cope with stress. I feel that my own addiction to sugar started subconsciously as a way to calm my body and mind by taking it to a happier place. All because I couldn't (or wouldn't) comfort myself in stressful times.
Unfortunately, while sugar may have superficially calmed down my mind and mellowed my nerves, my body endured the physical side effects. Lowered immune system, lost nutrients, insulin imbalance, poor health and eventual physical dependence. Stress is a powerful factor in addiction and leads to habit forming actions if not coped with properly.
So how do we properly cope with stress? It seems to boil down to learning to respond, not react. I am starting to understand that stress comes from within, not without. How stressed we are is closely linked to our outlook on life. How we feel about ourselves, about others and about God or the 'Universe'.
I like the simplicity of these sites. I may not agree with everything they say about stress management but they are pretty helpful. Really all you have to do is Google 'stress management' and millions of hits come up.
How To Deal With Stress
Below is an excerpt from the 'How To Deal With Stress' link
"Stress symptoms include mental, social, and physical manifestations. These include exhaustion, loss of/increased appetite, headaches, crying, sleeplessness, and oversleeping. Escape through alcohol, drugs, or other compulsive behavior are often indications. Feelings of alarm, frustration, or apathy may accompany stress."
Below is an excerpt from the 'Understanding Stress' link.
Things that influence your stress tolerance level
- Your support network – A strong network of supportive friends and family members is an enormous buffer against life’s stressors. On the flip side, the more lonely and isolated you are, the greater your vulnerability to stress.
- Your sense of control – If you have confidence in yourself and your ability to influence events and persevere through challenges, it’s easier to take stress in stride. People who are vulnerable to stress tend to feel like things are out of their control.
- Your attitude and outlook – Stress-hardy people have an optimistic attitude. They tend to embrace challenges, have a strong sense of humor, accept that change is a part of life, and believe in a higher power or purpose.
- Your ability to deal with your emotions. You’re extremely vulnerable to stress if you don’t know how to calm and soothe yourself when you’re feeling sad, angry, or afraid. The ability to bring your emotions into balance helps you bounce back from adversity.
- Your knowledge and preparation – The more you know about a stressful situation, including how long it will last and what to expect, the easier it is to cope. For example, if you go into surgery with a realistic picture of what to expect post-op, a painful recovery will be less traumatic than if you were expecting to bounce back immediately.
In my own experience, recognizing that I was comfort eating because of stress was half the battle to overcome the sugar addiction. I had never considered myself to be a high strung or stressed out person until I tried to live without sugar for the first time. Life overwhelmed me and I didn't last long. It became very apparent that I was stressed and not dealing with it at all. It was a rude awakening. There will always be stresses in life that we can't change, but the harmful effect is lessened by our attitude.
Meditation will be discussed in tomorrow's post. Until then, chill out! :)