Monday, April 24, 2006

Stress and Addiction

Hello! Last Thursday-Saturday, Becki and I went on a minister/spouse retreat. We went to the Hotel Pattee in Perry, Iowa. (see It is a hotel with 80,000 linear feet of mahogany wood. Each room is unique. We stayed in the "African room." (I barely resisted doing my tribal dance each night.)

One of the speakers at the retreat was Dr. Archibald Hart, a psychologist. He gave us insight into stress and its effects on on us (for a visual, see the picture of the stressed out man on the right).
1. Stress causes a lack of sleep.
2. Stress and sensory overload from constant input/pressure leads to the inability to experience joy, a chemical disturbance.
3. Since no pleasure can be found in normal experience (good food, family, recreation, etc.), those under prolonged stress resort to extreme behaviors--affairs, sexual and substance addictions, etc.--because these are the only behaviors that break through the chemical imbalance.

This progression explains why so many high-powered executives and ministers fall into immoral behavior, even if they have good hearts. Of course, all who live under constant stress are in danger of this. There are other side effects of stress too, such as a breakdown in the immune system.

How does stress affect you?


The Queen said...

I think stress is a lot like squeezing an orange. A little pressure produces juice. A lot of pressure produces alot of juice but it quickly runs out and you are left with a nasty pulpy mess.
A little stress allows us to get papers done on time, a sermon finished by Sunday, bills paid before the service is shut off, the house cleaned on short notice for company, a sick child to the hospital quickly, etc. Once the activity has been accomplished then we go back to the status quo.

However, when stress doesn't fade away, when we keep getting squeezed, we are headed, sometimes rather quickly, to the nasty-pulpy-mess stage. This may not happen over night, it might even take years. BUT, if left unchecked, the juice runs out. You will be sick, alone, medicated or worse.... divorced, addicted, or dead.
Having experienced this in my marriage...(not the dead part-obviously) I have chosen to adopt three rules to deal with stress & stressors.
1) have a firm,unshakeable faith in God and make that my priority.
2) realize that most of the stress in my life comes from trying to fix things for other people instead of praying for them and allowing God (not me) to handle it. It is allowing people the oportunity to grow through adversity instead of rescueing them. (There is a time when the ship is sinking and you have to help! The kicker is having the wisdom and mercy to know when it's helping and when it's enabling. I am still working on that one!)
3) surround myself w/strong christian people that can encourage me and can hold me accountable. I ask for their opinions.... even when I know my toes may get stepped on.
Wait!! There is a fourth one.
4) Don't procrastinate. It is difficult to separate the things you need to tackle "right now" from the choices that need to "percolate" awhile before you make them.
I can hear Kenny Rogers righ now.... "Know when to hold em. Know when to fold em. Know when to walk away. Know when to run."
(yeah, I know..... you're hummin' it, aren't ya)

James said...


Great advice on dealing with stress. We all try to fix things that are out of our control. I think that this is one of Satan's tools.

One of the areas we most fall down in is having people around us who are close enough to us to see us through difficult times. People with whom we can be transparent and trust with our difficulties. Men struggle most with this. Ninety percent of American men say that they have no close friends. We have to do a better job of this in the church.

Dale's Spot said...

I thought that was YOU in the picture :)