We all know that prolonged stress is bad for a person’s overall health, not just one’s mental health. We also know that stress can lead some people to substance abuse and addictions, which can perpetuate the cycle of mental illness. What’s little recognized though, is that negativity for some people is just as addictive as alcohol and drugs, and keep the body in a constant state of fabricated readiness that depletes energy levels and a person’s normal ability to deal with stress.
The Body’s Reaction to Stress
It doesn’t matter if the body is facing a major or minor crisis, physiologically, the body works to protect itself by increasing the heart rate and blood pressure, relaxing the air channels in the lungs, releasing sugar into the blood for energy, dilating the pupils to let more light into the eye, and slowing digestion so that more blood flows to the muscles, heart, etc.
If the stress remains unresolved, the body’s pituitary and adrenal system – which provides the body with energy for dealing with stress – can continue to produce steroids which can interfere with the body’s immune response, opening the way for infections. If additional stress from other sources comes along, then the body might not have the resources to effectively carry the weight of it.
The body’s systems aren’t made to run continuously and eventually the body will not be able to keep up with demand.
Negativity actually maintains or adds to stress levels, except the stress isn’t necessarily real or physical. Negative thinking about ourselves, others and situations keeps the body functioning as if real, life-threatening stressors are attacking it and the pituitary and adrenal systems running.
Negativity addiction is defined as “a physical and psychological need for the habit-forming stress chemicals which enter one’s bloodstream as a result of habitually thinking negative thoughts/feelings. In the physical aspect of the addiction, the body adapts to its own stress chemicals released from chronic negative thinking/feeling and gradually requires increased amounts of stress chemicals to reproduce the effects originally produced by smaller doses. Thus, negative thinking becomes compulsive and habitual in order for the body to get its ‘fix’ of negative stress chemicals” (www.overcomingnegativityaddiction.com).
Further, “[t]he body craves whatever it’s most used to” (www.overcomingnegativityaddiction.com) even if that craving could eventually damage or kill it.
The power of positive thinking truly is powerful and it is the only way of overcoming the negativity addiction that can affect how your entire body deals with stress, and how you relate to those around you in your home, workplace and activities. It can affect how you see yourself, whether or not you believe in yourself and what you can actually accomplish.
It is a commonly held teaching that how you perceive life--whether positively or negatively--will impact how your body deals with illness and whether or not good things actually happen to you. We’ve all heard the phrase "the more you hear something the more you begin to believe it." The more negativity you feed yourself the more you will begin to believe it and the harder it will be to break that cycle and start thinking positively. For some reason it is always easier to believe the bad things in the world than to try to see the good. It doesn’t matter if your day was full of good things; it just takes one negative thing to throw a damper on the whole thing. Conversely, however, it just takes one positive thought to turn a negative day around.
For some people the addiction will be harder to break than others. Some will dig through the underlying negativity issues quickly. Others will need to chip through years of build up and false beliefs and assumptions that drove their addiction.
But it’s one thing we all need to watch. Could we be unnecessarily adding to our already stressful circumstances by always looking at the bad side of things and failing to look for and feast on the good?
Sources: http://psychology4a.com; www.overcomingnegativityaddiction.com; http://blog.beliefnet.com;