Aven relates the example of war veterans coming home and having problems readjusting. Unfortunately, this scenario is happening way too often in today's world. When veterans come home -- long after they've left the traumatic battlefield -- they often continue to experience the stress of being on edge and not being able to let their guard down.
When they reflect on what keeps them up at night, it's often a fear that if they're not hypervigilant about all the things that could go wrong, then their families won't be protected. They believe if they're not prepared for negative scenarios and something bad happens, it's because they weren't aware and responsive to the signs of danger.
And, yet, that level of being "uptight" could actually backfire and contribute to negative things happening. You've probably heard about athletes accomplishing great feats when they're "in the zone." It's during these times of being fully present and "in the flow" that we can have the greatest access to our highest level of performance.
We've all heard about the adrenaline rush. Being on "high alert" for too long, though, can really take its toll on our bodies. Too much cortisol pounding through our system over time can lead to adrenal exhaustion.
Once we've reached adrenal exhaustion and feel wiped out, according to Aven, it can be very difficult to maintain a positive thought. This then results in a cycle of negative thoughts and further adrenal exhaustion -- a never-ending loop of more reasons to be negative. And to stay on that emotional treadmill.
Consider the following quote from a self-admitted "stressaholic": "I feel the physical response and even find myself confused when I try not to be stressed. It's like my body doesn't know how to behave if I actually choose to trust and flow with life. It feels like I'm going through withdrawals. My stomach turns and I feel anxious -- like I need a quick anger or fear fix to get myself back to normal."
Wow. That speaks volumes. It's been said that the root of all man's problems stems from the inability to sit quietly in a room with his thoughts. Easier said than done, though.
The first step is acknowledging the behavior. Then there are lots of options for dealing with it. One size doesn't fit all. It really depends on the individual situation and the person involved. Some people find relief from quieting down out in nature or working off their stress through exercise. Others find meditation helpful. Counseling can be effective, as can techniques such as Emotional Freedom Technique and Neuro-Linguistic Programming. And, in extreme cases, the adrenal exhaustion can be treated medically.
The important thing is to find what works best for the situation at hand -- and to stick with a plan. Your habitual stress took years to form. And it won't go away in a couple of weeks.
Who knew a substance produced by our own bodies -- cortisol -- could become addictive? You can definitely break the cycle, though, and loosen the grip stress has on you.
Linda Arnold, MBA, is a certified wellness instructor and chairwoman/CEO of The Arnold Agency, a marketing communications company specializing in advertising, public relations, government relations and interactive marketing. Reader comments are welcome and may be directed to Linda Arnold, The Arnold Agency, 117 Summers St., Charleston, WV 25301, or emailed to livelifefu...@arnoldagency.com.