Stress Addiction, a National Epidemic?

Long gone are the baby boomers, Gen Xer’s, Indigo Children and Dumpster Divers. Meet today’s new generation: The Stress Addicts.
As stress addicts and adrenaline junkies, many of us are living emotional charged lives triggered by doing more and buying more in order to be more. Some people intentionally live lives filled with drama and thrive on it because they enjoy riding the emotional roller coaster. The majority of us, however, become unwitting participants in the game of stress simply by the choices we make from what the world offers. In other words, stress is a natural by product of our modern lifestyles.
What is Stress?
Stress is real, and it can be a barrier to achieving balance, control, and a happier, better you. It’s caused by all of the things you juggle in life — money, relationships, schedules, family, work, your health, and more.
Webster dictionary defines stress as “a state resulting from a stress; especially: one of bodily or mental tension resulting from factors that tend to alter an existent equilibrium.” Dictionary.com defines stress as: “A specific response by the body to a stimulus, such as fear or pain that disturbs or interferes with the normal physiological equilibrium of an organism.”
Simply, stress means “imbalanced,” physically, mentally, emotionally or spiritually.

Unfortunately stress is detrimental when imbalance occurs to our physical, mental, emotional and/or spiritual beings.
And stress is unhealthy. According to the American Medical Association, stress is the underlying cause of nearly ALL diseases. 43% of all doctor’s/hospital visits are stress related. And, stress has been implemented as a MAJOR factor in the 6 deadliest diseases; heart disease, cancer, diabetes, liver disease, kidney disease and stroke.

Breaking the Addiction - Stress Management
“Manage your stress or it will manage you,” states Loni Maye Orth, a Stress Reduction Practitioner and Biofeedback Technician. The key to conquering stress is to not conquer it at all, but rather to manage it. And the great news is is that Stress Management is very obtainable, extremely easy and completely customizable. If implemented in any form and to any degree, real results are measurable.

“Only three rules apply to any Stress Management Plan,” emphasizes Orth
1. “If you’re not having fun managing your stress, then you’re not doing it right.”
2. “Do not stress over Stress Management.”
3. “Do not take yourself too seriously”

To manage stress, it is necessary to understand what Stress Management is. Stress Management can be broken down into 3 basic parts
1. Identification
2. Elimination, Reduction or Avoidance?
3. Action

The first aspect of Stress Management is Stressor Identification. “This can be tricky,” admits Orth. This is because the majority of stress factors are subtle or unknown. Factor in Compound Stressors, a common occurrence, and accurate Stressor Identification has become more challenging. It is important to not only correctly identify stressors but to identify them all. In order for this to happen, Orth encourages complete honesty and rewards her clients with mini biofeedback sessions, facials, or nutritional consult certificates. “I like to make a game of it”, Orth admits. In order for people to make life style changes and give up something, they have to gain something of greater value, Orth believes. “The more fun people have managing their stress, the more successful they will be at it.”

Stressor Identification
Stressors fall into 3 categories; Obvious Stressors, Subtle Stressors and Compound Stressors.
Obvious Stressors, to mention just a few, can include deadlines, finances, relationships, and traffic. These stressors may be synonymous with emotional pressures.
Subtle Stressors may affect us physically. Such stressors may include, but not limited to, electro-magnetic frequencies, chlorinated water, consuming diet/artificially sweetened beverages/foods, cooking with aluminum/Teflon coated cook ware and exposure to herbicides, pesticides and fungicides.
Compound Stressors
Compound Stressors may be the most dangerous. How so? Two reasons.
First, as unique individuals we all have different Stress Thresholds. One person may be sensitive to dairy, wheat and eggs, creating digestive stress if consumed, while others may not be affected by these foods in the least. Secondly, most stressors are compound stressors and they deliver a one-two-three punch.
This may be better understood with the following illustration.
Meet our fictitious friend “Jane”. After a long day at work, Jane comes home and turns on the television. She decides to also check her e-mails while she tunes into the nightly news (Jane is exposed to electro-magnetic frequencies and radiation from both the TV and computer). Jane does not have time to exercise (exercise is a known stress reducer) and because she is gaining a bit of weight, decides its best to watch her weight. For dinner, Jane drinks a diet Coke (ingesting artificial sweeteners, colors and chemicals) and eats a store bought low-calories meal (ingesting MSG’s, preservatives, artificial colors, herbicides, pesticides and more) which she prepared in the microwave (ingesting BPA’s (container) and is exposed to additional electro-magnetic frequencies and microwaves).

Jane experiences irritation due to the news stories and finds herself once again overwhelmed by all the information in her e-mail in box. She pops a few anti acids to settle her nervous stomach and decides to call it a day.

This illustration clearly shows the dangers of everyday subtle Compound Stressors. Poor Jane, she is most likely unaware of the lurking stressors she has exposed herself to by her lifestyle choices. Ask yourself, is Jane really a fictitious person? Do you know a Jane? Are you Jane?
Constant exposure, day in and day out, month after month, year after year to Obvious, Subtle and Compound Stressors, can be clearly measured and has created what experts refer to as a “Stress Epidemic” in our country.

Stress Management Plan
The last part of a Stress Management Plan is to create a plan of action. There are 8 basic steps to creating a Stress Management Plan.
1. Identify all of the stressors in your life; big ones and little ones.
2. Prioritize. Which stressors will you manage? In the beginning take baby steps and select no more than three to begin. If you prefer, start with small ones. It does not matter. The important thing is to start.
3. Decide which Stressors to eliminate and which ones to reduce and which ones to avoid. For example you can eliminate artificial sweeteners from your diet, or you can reduce your exposure to chlorinated water by filtering it (be sure to include a shower filter too), or you can avoid negative, complaining, and controlling people. Compromising is OK. For example, you may choose to eliminate diet soda (artificial sweeteners) from your diet during the week, but then drink them on the weekend.
4. Select Stress Management Techniques and Tips that appeal to you. You can choose to work with a professional, work alone, or a combination of all three Remember, the more techniques you can embrace, the more tools you will have in your tool belt to get the job done.
5. Commit. Put it in writing which stressors you will eliminate, reduce or avoid. Write down how your life will improve and establish a time table for yourself.
6. Revisit your plan and access your progress. Make adjustments if necessary. It is OK if you are not where you want to be. It is also OK to change the techniques or the stressors themselves. Remember, do not stress over your Stress Management Plan.
7. Reward yourself when you have successfully managed a stressor. Do something fun. Brag to a friend, take a nap or go out to lunch.
8. Start over.

Stress Management Techniques
Following is a sampling list of 30 Stress Management Techniques and Tips. Keep in mind, many more exist. Some techniques are most effective when working with a professional while others are easily adaptable and applicable for most any situations at any time. And of course combining techniques is not only accepted, it is encouraged. Note, however, some techniques or tips may lend themselves better than others for specific Stressors.
1. Stress Reduction Biofeedback
2. Message Therapy
3. Yoga
4. Meditate
5. Visualize
6. Journal
7. Practicing Gratitude
8. Pray
9. 21 Day detox
10. Cook with scratch with organic ingredients
11. Read product labels on food and personal care products. If you do not recognize or cannot pronounce an ingredient, opt for a healthier option
12. Dance
13. Laugh
14. Cry
15. Walk
16. Get outside everyday
17. Use essential oils, such as Lavender and teas/herbs, such as Chamomile and Hops
18. Consult with a Nutritionalist and supplement accordingly
19. Forgive others and yourself quickly
20. Exercise/stretch
21. Eliminate man made ingredients from diet, such as but not limited to artificial sweeteners, oils (such as margarine), and additives.
22. Drink more water
23. Adopt a pet
24. Take the scenic route to work
25. create morning, daytime and evening routines
26. Automate your finances
27. Be positive
28. Want what you have, not what you don’t
29. Do not get caught up in other peoples drama
30. De-clutter and organize home/office

One last note, even though stress is relevant and unavoidable and has been implicated in the majority of physical, emotional, mental and spiritual diseases, it is important to understand that Stress Management is attainable. It is easy and fun and the benefits to our health and well-being are measurable and invaluable.
De-stress and simplify your life and allow more time to focus on top priorities, be more fulfilled, and enjoy the ride.
If you have questions about Stress Management, Stress Management Assessment or require additional information, please contact Loni Maye Orth by e-mail at bodybalancewellness@yahoo.com or by phone at 414-573-4442
Loni Maye Orth is a Stress Reduction Practitioner, Biofeedback Technician, Gratitude Coach and Author. As a two time liver transplant recipient, Loni Maye understands the value of Stress Management in order to live an optimum life.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is intended for educational purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease. Always consult with a medical doctor before beginning any Stress Management Plan.