Simply Burned Out: When Stress Detaches Us from Life
We’ve all experienced stress in some way or another. Back pain, neck pain, headaches, stomach cramps and exhaustion can make it incredibly difficult to enjoy daily life and, if you experience some of these symptoms and more, you’re not alone. A 2017 Gallup survey discovered that 8 in 10 Americans are afflicted by stress – and not only that but raising children under 18 and maintaining work responsibilities seem to be two of the biggest stressors among Americans today. Is there a way to reduce some of the very stress that’s driving us away from ourselves and our loved ones? There are certainly some strategies to reduce stress, but first, we must recognize what’s worsening our experiences.
If stress continues without appropriate intervening, symptoms of mental illness can either emerge or worsen. In 2017, a study published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry explored the extent to which stress impacted symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). A total of 1138 patients participated in the study, and researchers found that the stress initially experienced by flashbacks and more caused further hypervigilance in avoiding those very uncomfortable feelings; in particular, participants experienced more emotional numbing, detachment from others, disinterest in activities, more irritability/anger, greater sleep disturbances and concentration difficulties as well.
Without realizing it, substances such as illicit drugs, prescription medications and alcohol can become part of our daily lives in an attempt to ameliorate some of the harsh symptoms of stress. One individual shared their experience of self-medicating anxiety via the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). Here is an excerpt from their story: “I saw my primary care doctor, not knowing how much I’d later regret it. He sent me on my way with a prescription for medication, and I loved it. It provided immediate relief from my anxiety every time I took it…I soon became dependent on it as a way out.”
A 2015 review conducted by researchers in Philadelphia further denotes that while drugs like opioids, for example, can help relieve pain, they can also make a person more vulnerable to developing other health conditions – such as psychiatric disorders and dependency. Abusing alcohol to relieve stress can also lead to the development of alcoholism, which only further perpetuates stress as it becomes a harsh cycle that’s hard to break.
As the American Institute of Stress indicates, self-care is not a luxury – yet when we’re extremely stressed, we may find ourselves skipping meals, losing sleep, becoming more critical of ourselves while judging others, and much more. When our stress levels have peaked, it seems like everything is a problem – and that can really spark us to have relationship problems, workplace issues, self-medication concerns and a general feeling of discontent with life. Rather than treating ourselves – and others – poorly because we’re stressed, what can we do to get back on track with health and wellbeing?
Take a Holistic Approach
All too often, we suppress feelings or events of our lives because we fear they’re too painful to face. We bury them deep down inside of us, and this causes us to release this pain in other ways. By taking a holistic approach to treatment, we can address a number of areas of life that have influenced us heavily, such as:
· Substance abuse
· Mental illness
· Health conditions
· Social support
· Sleeping and eating patterns
· And much more
Holistic approaches better help us tune into what’s been holding us back by providing us with healthy strategies to moving forward. Mindfulness, for example, is a highly effective method that anyone can use – and it’s all about bringing us closer to the present moment (because, let’s face it, that’s all we have!).
A 2017 article published in the journal Addiction Science & Clinical Practice explained the mindfulness interventions are successful in helping those with addiction by taking them through a series of “mental training” that promotes neurocognitive processes such as re-orienting attention, understanding one’s own thought processes (metacognition), contemplating appropriate reactions to stressful situations by reassessing these events, and focusing on meaningful thoughts/events rather than distracting ones.
There are a number of holistic approaches that center around mindfulness, such as acupuncture, massage therapy, chiropractic services, yoga, meditation and more. Other therapeutic techniques, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), can be used to help individuals understand how their thoughts can influence their actions – and how they can decide which thoughts are worth placing significance to.
Stress, if not taken care of appropriately, can lead us down a winding path of cynicism – which only takes us away from the beauty of the present moment. Substances may take away some of our discomfort only temporarily, but they only serve to worsen our stress over time by complicating many areas of life that need tending to. Don’t wait for stress to take over your life – engage in proactive measures by participating in health and wellness activities. If you’ve been struggling with addiction, don’t wait any longer to seek the help you need.
If you’re ready to begin your journey towards restoration of the mind, body and spirit, speak with a professional from a reputable treatment center today.
The mission of The Beach House is to provide success in the recovery process and elevate the standard of comprehensive addiction treatment. Located right on the coast of Malibu, California, expert clinical care and a holistic view of the recovery process is provided to ensure Best-in-Class treatment tailored to the needs of each client. If you’re ready to start your recovery journey today, call us at 310-924-0780.
Saving Lives; Healing Families.