Addictions are a familiar and common issue. Usually addictions are a kind of escape or a replacement to something else, real and important. This case I bring up here is not entirely different but stems from a totally different background which makes it a valuable topic.
The subject of my first book and a common topic in my clinic is stress management via the use of de-stressors. Using de-stressors on a routine basis in order to maintain healthy stress levels and avoid a stress overload. There is no doubt that letting out steam is an important choice – at least until one learns not to collect stress.
The question is: What do we do when we get carried away with one or more de-stressor to the point where it fills a meaningful chunk of our day? More so, what should we do if we get addicted to de-stressors? How can we resolve this?
Physical exercise is a wonderful and important physical de-stressor for many and for some a mental and even an emotional one too. If you find yourself too busy exercising to be efficient in other aspects of your life you must a gotten carried away :) . Or perhaps you found a new career...
Computer games can be a very effective mental de-stressor and in some cases an emotional one. Abusing them turns the games into the very opposite of physical de-stressing and your aching body will quickly make it clear if it happens…
Let us start with a healthy dose of prevention:
As everyone knows, preventing is far easier than treating. It is just as true here and just as important. When Choosing de-stressors and integrating them into our lives during the initial stress management study phase it is a good time to consider this aspect. Framing the de-stressing time with other activities on the one hand (Putting a limitation on de-stressing activities in advance). Then there is the system control element.
How does system control fit in here?
One of the common reasons that can get us carried away with a de-stressor is when it isn’t efficient enough. We experience stress, go and practice this de-stressor – but don’t get enough relief within a reasonable time. Effective De-stressing time becomes infinite and of course inefficient. The obvious solution here is to change de-stressors or vary the de-stressors. An effective de-stressor will do its’ part and leave us free to live the rest of our lives in ease.
Another reason can be a habit of masking issues with other issues. E.g. Tiredness causes us to feel powerless to cope with stuff in our lives. If we mistake this for simple stress and choose de-stressors over the real solution a.k.a sleep and rest, the result will be more tiredness and no relief.
During the system control phase we record our daily feelings and sensations. It is important to note during this phase the time and proportions invested in each de-stressor used and to assess the accuracy of our choices.
And if we already got carried away?
At this point we already need a de-stressor because of the de-stressor…
This point requires a very personalized answer. Some react best by quickly cutting off the problematic habit. Taking a break from it for a while or replacing it all together. Others will prefer to work on accurately dosing the offending de-stressor. That can pose quite a challenge at times. At any case, adding new and well framed de-stressors to deal with the original stress + this new addiction stress is crucial.
Dealing with the root issues – the very vibe of addiction in our system. The greatest tool that can change the essential imbalance that brings about susceptibility to addiction is mind quieting meditation. (Zen meditation and the likes). One explanation for this is that mind quieting meditation helps us focus on the here and now.
We teach meditation very often in our clinic as part of our therapy. A Hebrew version is to be found in our Hebrew blog. An English one will most likely be made soon.