Friday, March 13, 2009

Balancing Act

Relaxation Tip:
If you have been sitting for a while, get your oxygen flowing by sitting up straight and lacing your fingers behind your head. Pull your elbows back, stretching your upper back and chest muscles. Bring your elbows forward. Repeat.

Some healthy coping behaviour that help a person feel balanced are: Exercise, down time for self care, a mixture of work and play and a time management schedule.

Other coping strategies people use but are more likely to leave them feeling unbalanced in the long term include: Chronic use of alcohol or other drugs, avoidance of a commitment or responsibility, procrastination and overeating.

Addiction can happen slowly. We can slowly begin to rely on less than healthy means of dealing with our stress – eating, relationship drama, drugs, gaming. How do we tell when we cross the line from a passion to an addiction?

Cynthia Jane Collins in her book “The Recovery Spiral” defines addiction :
“…if we habitually or compulsively - with or without awareness or intention - use any activity, substance or person[s] to move us away from our true selves, we are practicing addictive behaviours.”

A few exerpts from Gabor Mate’s new book about the many facets of addiction, “In The Realm of Hungry Ghosts”:
Mate says about addiction, “In the final analysis, it’s not the activity or object itself that defines an addiction but our relationship to whatever is the external focus of our attention or behaviour.
This author also talks about a Vietnam veterans study which pointed to similar conclusions as the "Rat Park Study". Many soldiers in Vietnam used readily available heroin addictively. When they returned home and were no longer exposed to the conditions of that war, the greater part of them no longer used. Similarly, rats living in cages were offered the choice of an addictive substance and they readily chose it. When the rats were placed in “Rat Park” rather than a cage, they stopped choosing the substance. “Rat Park” was also a cage but much larger and with features added that gave interest and stimulation to the daily lives of the rats. Mate’s conclusion: –“under certain conditions of stress many people can be made susceptible to addiction, but if circumstances change for the better, the addictive drive will abate.”
In Mate’s words, “physiological stress reaction causes a maelstrom of hormonal secretions and nervous discharges that involve virtually every organ and system in the body. The most potent stressors are loss of control and uncertainty in important areas of life, whether personal or professional, economic or psychological. What do all stressor have in common? Ultimately they all represent the absence of something the organism perceives as necessary for survival- or its threatened loss.
In humans, the most common stressors are emotional rather than physical. Naturally this suggests that developing some intelligence about how emotions work is a very good strategy for dealing with our stress.

Try to be sure some of the habits you are developing for dealing with stress make sense for you and contribute to your long term sense of wellness and balance. Check out the website link for "What's With Weed?" You can take an assessment to see where you are at with weed use and how you compare with others your age. You can see short videos of young people talking about their weed use. You can pick up tips on how to reduce the harm of weed use if you are interested in doing that.

Daniel Goldman talking about social intelligence

Signed video about emotional and multiple intelligences

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