We are now in a vulnerable
state and have created a fertile environment for the development of disease.
The relationships between
stress and disease is constantly on display to us – ranging from the examples we
see in the workplace to the results of studies in personality types (eg Freedman
and Rosenman), impacts of society (eg Holmes and Rahn) and even mice.
Workplace and daily life
How many times have we seen
people pushing too hard, worried about deadlines or problems, and eventually
becoming sick. Thankfully, most often this sickness is just on call from
our weakest link (eg a cold, ulcers, stomach upsets) telling us to slow down.
Our weak link acts as our canary in mines. This, at least gives us defined
boundaries, which say you need to change what you are doing to reduce the stress
on your body.
Also, many times we see people
that have battled to make deadlines, become sick immediately after the deadline
passes. It is almost as if the body has said, “You promised me some time
out when we reached Friday. Now I am going to make sure we take it.
I’ll make you have a cold or ulcers, etc, just to make sure we rest.”
Now imagine this situation when
there is no message for the weak link and this stress just keeps building and
building and feeds on itself.
management of stress is built very much around prescription of tranquilizers.
Blackwell (Korn & Johnson, p33) alerts us to the fact that, “in 1972, 144
million prescriptions were written for psychotropic drugs. Half of these were
accounted for by two minor tranquilizers, Librium and Valium”. In his book
Toxic Psychiatry, Peter Breggin, warns us that the particular drugs may have
changed but the general philosophy of treatment has not, when he writes
“Among psychiatric medications for the treatment of anxiety, the most commonly
used are the minor tranquilizers, starting in 1957 with the introduction of
Librium (chlordiazepoxide). In the 1970s the minor tranquilizer Valium
(diazepam) topped the charts as the most widely prescribed drug in America, to
be replaced by Xanax in 1986. Most of the minor tranquilizers belong to the
group called benzodiazepines and are closely related chemically to Librium,
Valium, and Xanax”( Toxic Psychiatry by Peter R. Breggin, 1994 by St. Martin's
M.D. as quoted on his
Unfortunately the use of drugs
is an attack on the symptoms but does little or nothing to treat the cause and
thus break the stress
cycle but instead brings with it an array of side effects. “Their
(drug) addiction potential poses grave dangers, and they negate the basic value
of the stress response as a survival learning mechanism.” (Korn and Johnson,
A guide to a more effective
approach to the treatment of stress was provide by Hans Selye, who in 1978
coined the term G.A.S. (General Adaptive Syndrome) to describe the process by
which we “attempt to cope with “nonspecific” stress – as opposed to short
duration stresses such as injury, the flu, momentary fear.” (As quoted in Alman
& Lambrou p100).
According to Alman & Lambrou
G.A.S has 3 stages.
Period of resistance
The body’s immune system is
subject to break down during stages 2 & 3. The first warning signal is
likely to come from the body’s weak link. This indicates that a holistic
program is required to support and strengthen the immune system as well as
working to reduce the impact of things that worked against the immune system.
The holistic approach would pay attention to issues such as diet, exercise and
rest, as well as the provision of powerful mental tools utilizing altered states
of consciousness and post hypnotic suggestion. According to Korn and
Johnson (p34) high on the agenda of mental tools would be the Relaxation
Response. The Relaxation Response effectively provides an exit loop for
the fight or flight response.
Korn & Johnson go on to point
out that 10 to 20 minutes (p35) of experience with relaxation response once a
day is an appropriate stress release. They explain the reason for this is
that “most of us, exposed to numerous stresses over a long period of time,
experience a gradual elevation in the stress threshold, or basal level, until we
reach a point at which the body can no longer adapt. At that point we
experience illness” (p 36). However, when we experience the
relaxation response, we release currently accumulated stressors.
Visualization is a powerful tool to develop
the relaxation response. Visualization and other imagery techniques can be very
useful tools to dissipate stress and therefore support your overall health and