For the most part, we deal with stress ineffectively and destructively. We try to escape it with food, alcohol, drugs, sex, or possessions. We distract ourselves with television, gaming, internet browsing, or even people and relationships. We hide from it with denial. We overeat or starve ourselves. We make ourselves sick. We are embarrassed by stress and our avoidance tactics are endless.
Becoming overwhelmed by stress is an individualized process but the results are common to all: we become less engaged in healthy, productive living. Our thinking and behavior degenerate from constructive to destructive, from creative to self-sabotaging. We procrastinate. We lose motivation, curiosity, enthusiasm. We feel confusion, fatigue, depression, anxiety, or hopelessness. There are serious second-order effects as well: many of the problems we have in life are the result of poor decisions made under the influence of overwhelming stress.
Medical research has concluded that many serious diseases and chronic illnesses are directly related to the inability to cope with stress — in other words, stress is not responsible for just minor, transitory complaints like headaches and colds. In over 40 years of clinical use on thousands of people, Graf Stress Management has found stress at the root of all types of physical and mental illnesses, from chronic conditions like infertility, fibromyalgia, and addiction, to debilitating or terminal illnesses like cancer, lupus, AIDS, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
Denying we have stress only hurts us. It is nothing to be embarrassed about but rather, the symptom of a problem to be addressed.