Identifying stress as a big issue seems lame, right?
You can continue to deny that you don't feel stress or that it doesn't play a factor in your life. I get it, it's not glamour, but that is how it stays hidden in plain sight. If this topic irritates you there is a very good chance that it is rubbing up against a truth, that perhaps you are addicted to your stress.
I don't feel stressed.
Stress is invisible to you. Until you are able to identify how it has infiltrated your life and how you use it, you won't see it.
Most people think of stress like a big event, an explosion like a tire blowing out, but stress will show up more like a slow leak that eventually leaves you stranded and helpless. Denying that stress is a factor in your life is part of the addiction. It's like saying “I like coffee for the taste and not the caffeine”. Who says that? Caffeine addicts.
Stress stimulates one of the most addictive substances to your brain: adrenaline, the body's natural cocaine. My friend who works with heroin addicts told me that she would find some patients stabbing their arms with forks. This was not a means of self harm, but self medication, as they got a little rush after the initial pain.
How does stress addiction disguise itself?
Stress is a tricky little bugger and often creates the illusion that what you are experiencing is temporary. This is where intellect and reason come in and override the body. You are fine, they say, get up and go to work.
Pain and discomfort seem temporary; at least that’s what you’re meant to believe. You’ve had the same patterns and routines for a long time, how can new pain be related to them? So you ignore it because it’s mind over matter, or, in this case mind over physical. At this moment the body and mind have become separated even more. But the mind and body are connected, and recognizing this, working WITH this connection, not AGAINST it, is vital.
Maybe you still don’t see this in yourself, but you may recognize it in a friend, a co-worker, a spouse that runs till they are ragged.
Do you negotiate with yourself about sleep? You reason that if you sleep more on the weekend that will make up for the sleep you lost because something else took priority. Or you just have to get over this busy time and then you can rest...but rest never happens because we're on to the next urgent matter that needs our attention. To catch up on lost sleep, it needs to happen within a 24 hour period otherwise the benefits are lost.
The addiction has emotional attachment to the behaviors that keep stimulating us. Staying up late to bake cookies for the bake sale, for example. Justifying the loss of sleep because if you don't do it perhaps you're not a good parent and it is for a good cause.
Believing you are in control and can stop at anytime is the great deceiver, like with any addiction. This causes you not to commit to change.
Stress is the true silent killer. It is linked to all major illnesses and diseases. We are addicted to stress without knowing it and we continue behaviors that create a stress response because it fuels us, drives us, gets us through.
Stress does present itself, if you only know where to look.
Signs and symptoms that you are suffering from stress:
- Weight gain, especially the stubborn kind, that won’t go away, no matter how much you diet or exercise. This is excess cortisol that is circulating your body.
- Poor digestion. Gas, bloating, IBS, acid reflux.
- New allergies, including dietary intolerances.
- A weakened immune system, resulting in frequent illness.
- Body aches and pains: neck and shoulder tension, back pain.
- Hair loss.
- Skin rashes or irritation.
- Chronic fatigue and lethargy.
- Increased anxiety.
- Sleep issues: crashing when your head hits the pillow, waking up tired, insomnia.
- Impatience and irritability.
- The feeling of not enough time.
- You’re easily overwhelmed.
- Increased negativity, focusing on what you don't want. General pessimism about the future.
- Heart disease.
- Lack of interest in sex.
How can you expect to keep abusing your body and not eventually experience the consequences? You are literally deteriorating and it is only a matter of when you will encounter the consequences.