Not the answer at Christmas.

Working with many who have suffered stress and how it has led to addictions has prompted me to share my thoughts on this.

Stress is a part of life that never seems to go away.  Christmas is no exception. If we let it fester and turn to substances for our comfort, there is the danger of creating or worsening addictions we might already be trying to curb.

Although with all good intentions it is meant to be a happy and exciting time.  Especially for families when children are around, just seeing the joy on their faces as their excitement grows.  The desire of parents and grandparents to see them have as much as they can pile under the tree.  Then there are the gifts bought for all the loved ones and friends.  Worse is the panic buying, the last-minute food shop, and seeing all the reductions I see it so often, trolleys piled high and for what? One day.  The expectations of Christmas are more than we might imagine.

One thing many lose sight of is not just rationality but the money.  With credit so easy and poor money management skills financial stress is added to the mix.   There is a danger in the aftermath of heightened stress and anxiety.  Christmas brings all sorts of additional stressors and often we may not see them coming. From high expectations to financial overspend, to receiving and giving unwanted gifts.  It can be a time of fall outs as pressure mounts.  When feeling stressed then it is easy to turn to something for relief. Most commonly alcohol, smoking or drugs.  Alcohol is the most common. Binge drinking is easy especially at Christmas, and the difficulty if already a drinker is a challenge for all the family. Stress leads to addiction.

According to Alcohol Concern, there are an estimated 595,131 dependent drinkers in England.  Alcohol misuse is the biggest risk factor for death, ill-health and disability among 15-49 year-olds in the UK, and the fifth-biggest risk factor across all ages. Alcohol abuse is estimated to cost the NHS around £3.5bn annually.  Alcohol consumption in the UK increases in December by 41 per cent.

Julie Breslin, head of programme at Drink Wise Age Well (part of UK drug and alcohol charity Addaction) says: “Christmas can be an enjoyable time for many, but for those who have experienced problems with their drinking and are trying to stay alcohol-free it can be a minefield.

The reason there is a need for alcohol is related to dopamine. Alcohol causes the brain’s reward system to release the motivational chemical dopamine. But over time, chronic drinking actually depletes the amount of dopamine in your brain, causing you to crave more alcohol and laying the groundwork for alcohol addiction.

There is no doubt the cost of alcohol and the risk of addiction or the struggle if already addicted that comes at Christmas is a challenge for all, in families and friend circles.  Little comfort at this time of the year.

The general belief is that alcohol and drugs help people who are suffering from extreme anxiety. While it is true that certain drugs and alcohol provides some relief, with time the effects fade away.  This is why people end up increasing their consumption, which then transforms into an addiction. Drugs, alcohol, cigarettes and even caffeine may seem like stress-relievers and help control tension temporarily, but in the end, they just add to the issues instead of solving them.

Stress leads to addiction -drugs or alcohol and can have a negative impact on your life. These are not the solution to removing tension from your life but are instead factors that worsen the situation. If things get out of hand, you can end up losing everything that you have; from your family and home to your job, health and friends. If you are addicted to drugs or alcohol, you cannot hope to deal effectively with the things that are introducing anxiety and tension in your life.

Substance abuse will only add to the stress you already feel. Along with your career, substance abuse can also destroy your personal life. The longer the addiction continues, the more things there will be to create tension in your life. This, in turn, leads to an increase in substance abuse as people seek ways to avoid increasing stress; this is a vicious cycle that leads to more problems than one can count.

If you are feeling stressed, anxious or tense, then using drugs, alcohol, caffeine or cigarettes to mask the problems is the last thing you should do.  Self-medication through substance abuse is not the solution to the anxiety and tension in your life, that may be heightened by seasonal pressures.   Don’t allow stress to cause an addiction

If you do find yourself falling into the trap, then don’t let it get out of hand.  If you do like all your life stress it will become trapped in your body.  Building physical, mental and emotional tensions that disrupt wellbeing on every level.  Remember Stress is a silent killer.  The tensions are stored in your Psoas muscle, your fight/flight centre.  This profound muscle is where your emotions and fears are held.  The more we hold the worse we feel.

The Psoas Muscle. The Fight/Flight centre where fear and emotions are stored. When stressed we comfort with substance and create addictions.  instead of releasing as nature intended!
The Psoas Muscle

But you know just like animals we release the tension and set ourselves free of the past.  The simple, practical and empowering 5 Step programme the Total Release Experience can teach you to do just that.  When the cause is removed the need for addictive substance is gone with it. Stress and addictions are no longer a threat.

Don’t carry forward into 2020 the problems of the past, the resentments, sadness, bitterness and asters – find a new lease of life and physical, mental and emotional wellbeing on every level, just as many others have.  Learn something that your body knows – but you have forgotten!

‘After feeling so sceptical this would work on me, I now feel so hopeful, relieved and inspired to be on this journey of healing’   Evie A

‘I am so glad I have attended this Course.  I was recommended by a surgeon, so I knew it would be safe and effective.  I am amazed that something so simple could be so powerful, thank you so much!’ Natasha.