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The pace of our society keeps speeding up and we are packing more and more activities into our day. Through this process, our bodies react in a "Fight or Flight" response to outside stimuli developing an addiction to stress. As a society, we are in pain, tired, frazzled, overwhelmed and seeking answers to combat disease through means other than pharmaceutical medications.
What Does it Mean to Be "Addicted to Stress"?
Stress is a biological process that was developed to help us in the past. In earlier centuries, our ancestors were living in harsh surroundings with dangers of wild animals and harsh weather. Hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol were created so our ancestors could respond in a "fight or flight" manner to keep them safe from dangerous surroundings allowing them to think on their feet and channel their strength and attention. Today, these same hormones are activated when we are working hard to meet a deadline, reacting to noise in our environment, working despite lack of sleep and trying to keep up with our everyday pace of life.
Over time, just as exercise develops and strengthens a muscle, our minds develop a habit over time by automatically responding to stimuli in our environment through this "fight or flight" reaction, consistently releasing the hormones of cortisol and adrenaline creating an actual addiction to these hormones.
The Huffington Post published an article about how to tell whether you are actually "Addicted to Stress." Are You Addicted to Stress? Here's How to Tell The Huff Post article describes how our bodies develop an addiction to stress over time and how society enforces the stress addiction by defining self worth through monetary gain, constant achievement and advancement.
Telltale Signs You're Struggling with Stress:
- Trouble Sleeping;
- Over-thinking and over-analyzing;
- Shortness of breath or rapid heartbeat;
- Anxiety and rumination on "what needs to get done";
- Difficulty sitting still and/or being present;
- Chronic Headaches;
- Chronic Fatigue; and
- Difficulty paying attention or focusing on tasks for extended periods of time.
Over time, if we don't learn stress reduction techniques and slow down, diseases begin to develop. According to www.WebMd.com, the top stress-related health problems are:
- Heart Disease;
- Depression and Anxiety;
- Gastrointestinal Problems;
- Advanced Aging;
- Alzeimer's Disease; and
- Premature Death.
Read the full article here: 10 Health Problems Related to Stress That You Can Fix
If you've established that stress is affecting your health, don't fret! There are practices of daily living that can reverse the effects of stress on your body.
How Do I Reverse the Effects of Stress?
Stress is not always a bad thing. There are positive forms of stress which are coined, "eustress." MentalHelp.net describes eustress as positive stress which motivates us, provides focused energy, feels exciting, is perceived as within our coping abilities and improves performance.
1. Incorporate Eustress
Different Forms of Eustress Include:
Taking a Vacation
Having a Baby
Buying a Home
Starting a New Job
Taking Education Classes of Learning a New Hobby
2. Practice Meditation & Mindfulness
Mediation is seen by a number of researchers as one of the most effective forms of stress reduction. Meditation is effortless and leads to a state of thoughtless awareness in which the stress producing activities of the mind are eliminated while increasing alertness. When we are not focused on the past (leading to depression) or the future (leading to anxiety), we are able to fully experience the present moment awareness which allows our body and mind to reach altered states of consciousness. What are the different states of consciousness?
The 4 States of Consciousness
Throughout the day, our mind goes through several different states of consciousness from very relaxed to very alert. The 4 states of consciousness from most alert to relaxed are: Beta, Alpha, Theta, and Delta. These states of consciousness are are identified by the amount of brain waves that occur in a second. The fewer the brain waves, the more relaxed state you are in.
The Beta state is when you are most alert. This is when you are engaged in activity going through your normal day, such as having a conversation or working.
In the Alpha state, you are still awake and very relaxed. Your goal with mediation is to attempt to at least hit a deep Alpha state. You also experience this when you lose your train of thought or when you're driving and have arrived at your destination but don't remember how you got there. You are in a daydreaming state. When you meditate in Alpha, you are still aware of the world around you.
In the Theta state, your brain waves slow down even further. It is in Theta that you are sleeping, or close to it. We are in the Theta state when we dream. Psychics often go into the Theta state when they are in a highly receptive state of mind. When you meditate and reach the Theta state, you are in a trance-like state. It’s possible that you may receive messages in this state of mind from your Higher Self, or possibly pick up on some psychic activity.
In Delta, your brain waves per second are very slow. You visit this state every night, deep in sleep when you are between dreams. If you meditate and enter this stage, you have probably fallen asleep.
Some experts believe that the optimal state favorable for healing our body and mind is Theta. While in Theta state, especially done intentionally through meditation, we have the ability to:
1.Relieve stress and promote a lasting and substantial reduction in anxiety.
2. Facilitate a deep physical relaxation and mental clarity
3. Increase verbal ability and IQ
4. Recall mental images and spark creative thinking.
5. Reduce pain, promote euphoria and stimulate the release of endorphins.
3. Chiropractic Care and Treatment
Stress, in its physical form, often collects along the spine. Tension builds and builds, and eventually that results in pain in various parts of the body. Chiropractic care can help in 2 ways. First, when a chiropractor aligns the spine, that tension is released, the body is relaxed, and the literal physical stress on the body is reduced. Secondly, when the spine is aligned, the central nervous system is unblocked and can function effectively. This means that your mind can think clearly, messages are sent and received with precision, and the mental stress placed on you is reduced as well. Chiropractic care is different from other healing methods such as surgery and/or drugs as it utilizes the body's natural healing mechanisms. For more information on chiropractic adjustments for "drugless healing" go to http://drpaulbekkum.com/chiropractic-care/
Different chiropractic therapies are also known to be highly beneficial for stress reduction. For example, Pulsed Electro-magnetic Field (PEMF) Therapy applies gentle, therapeutic frequencies to the cells and also stimulates healthy electrical and chemical processes in the tissues. PEMF improves circulation and cell metabolism, it increases oxygen carrying capacity, and helps balance the immune system. PEMF Therapy is a fast, inexpensive, non-invasive and relaxing therapy. For more information about PEMF Therapy go to: http://drpaulbekkum.com/pemf-therapy-fargo/