Everybody experiences stress and anxiety at certain points throughout their lives. Some can work through the anxiety and move forward. For others, they tend to hold onto anxiety, thus exasperating the amount of stress until their stress takes over. When stress takes over, you are more likely to turn to compulsive and irrational behavior to try and resolve this stress as quickly as you can. However, what usually happens is you hold onto it longer. Maybe this stress happens in cycles; one thought triggers another, and it builds from there—or perhaps you have a difficult time regulating your anxiety and stress feels chronic. Before you know it, you are stressed and developing other health ailments.
These ailments might be minor. However, they stand the chance of becoming chronic or worse when they are perpetuated by stress. It could create misery, illness, and a cycle of bad habits and behaviors that might seem impossible to break. However, when you understand your relationship with stress and your health, you can alleviate the pressure by using ways to manage it.
While a certain amount of stress can benefit the immune system, chronic stress will do just the opposite. This type of stress is a response to emotional pressure and suffering for a prolonged period. The onset occurs when you are feeling anxious or fearful. When this happens, you might feel like you have little or no control over the situation, causing an unshakable feeling of stress. Signs include: low energy, headaches, IBS, insomnia, chest pain, and lethargy. Using alcohol or drugs to cope will perpetuate the symptoms and make them worse because you neglect giving your body the dietary and mental resources it needs to shift your state of mind from stress to relief.
When suffering from chronic stress, a chronic illness could also occur. Since you are experiencing a prolonged episode of stress for weeks or sometimes months, your immune system will try to remedy a disease that may or may not exist. However, even if the symptoms are exaggerated by stress, the body’s physical detriment is real. Over an extended period, you might experience moderate to severe complications that are affected by your stress. Chronic illness often interferes with your daily life, causing you a lot of grief and misery.
When you continue to manage your pain with alcohol or drugs, you further damage your physical and mental health, which can develop into heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s, dementia, diabetes, or self-destructive thoughts.
Stress and Illness
Since stress and illness seem to pair together so easily, it should be understood that their relationship is toxic. One encourages the other, and it could last for weeks, months, or occur intermittently in a week to a month-long cycle. When this happens, it is debilitating. Thinking that, I feel stressed this week, so this weekend, I will get drunk or high is no way to manage your stress. It will create bad habits and worsen if and when your episodes of stress become harder to transition away.
There is no single supplement or remedy that can boost your state of mind, physical health, immune system, or eliminate stress and anxiety. The effort to sustaining positive and lasting results is much like recovery and staying sober, in that it takes a multitude of practices to keep your mind and body functioning to meet your needs. The relationship between your mind, body, and stress is connected. The mental and the physical share a deep connection and should be treated as one. Look for ways in which to address them simultaneously.
A proper diet will not only do wonders for your body but also your mind. A balanced diet of vegetables and lean proteins like fish, avocado, berries, and potatoes are just a few of the foods that will benefit you. Research has shown a link between the positive effects berries and green vegetables can have on the mind by boosting energy and positivity. They have even been shown to help manage depression. The right foods in the right moderation will also promote better digestion, protect organs, and even promote better cardiovascular function, which helps the brain function, resulting in more focus and better sleep.
Like diet, physical activity can help get your mind and body back in sync. Not only will exercise further build upon better cardiovascular function, but also help turn some of the negative energy from stress into positive energy.
If you are worried about where to begin, start slowly; walking, stretching, and even minding your posture will help to alleviate places where your body holds onto stress. Understand that your nervous system will respond based on your actions, so if you are not active, you create more areas of tension around your body, thus creating feelings of high stress and anxiety. Try to get up and move and get the blood flow back to your muscles. Good exercise also promotes better sleep.
Sit With Your Thoughts
There are many practices to help you sit with and identify your thoughts, so the method is up to you. However, the goal should be to identify the triggers of stress. You might use breathwork to relax and focus, mindfulness, meditation, or even yoga, but you will want to remember to evaluate your thinking pattern. Understanding your thoughts and how and why they occur will help you see them for what they are and, in turn, see the bigger picture outside of the stressful thought.
Once you can relax your mind enough to feel and question your thoughts, track your thought patterns by writing them in a journal. Write down when you feel a certain way and why you feel this way; what has occurred to make you feel this way? This will help reinforce or reassure yourself of where your stress stems.
The mind and body should never be managed separately. Every action—every thought—will, in some way, affect your overall health. The reason you might feel hopeless now is that you have been repeating the same thoughts so often that you have developed harmful thought patterns. However, just like creating a bad habit, you can generate thoughts and actions that create good habits. First, it takes wanting to correct this behavior. Once you do that, try to set a reasonable goal: you will eat better and exercise and meditate for 30 days. Track these 30 days, and do not be hard on yourself if you hit a bump along the way—just maintain the practice for 30 days. After 30 days, create new goals, and build on these practices by challenging yourself.
If at any point you feel overwhelmed and powerless and alcohol or drugs seem like the only remedy, then it is time to seek help. It is okay if you cannot manage this alone—there is always professional help. True Recovery offers 24/7 care and is determined to find the right care for you. To learn more, call us today at (866) 399-6528.