Stress and addictions, great enemies of well-being

Almost one century of scientific research led to the description of stress as an adaptative physiological response of the organism, that may change to a potent pathogenetic factor when excessively intense or prolonged.

The basic concept of homeostasis, the balance between all the components of psychophysical life, compared to that of allostatic load, the amount of internal and external factors altering this equilibrium,defined the role of resilience, the capacity to react to overloading stress and recover the homeostatic balance.

More than acute stressing situations, stress plays a role in a lot of factors chronically acting against wellness, such as work, economic and family worries, innatural lifesyle, request of professional and social performance and imaging, etc.

Chronic stress has been demonstrated to induce or to worsen several somatic disturbances, such as cardiovascular and metabolic alterations, overweight, sleep disturbances, G.I.dysfunction, anxiety and depressive states, etc., potentially leading to real diseases.

Moreover, addictive behaviours, such as drug (alcohol, cocaine, etc.) and behavioral (internet addiction, gambling, etc.) addiction may often represent a response and a consequence of chronic stress.

All these conditions potentially accelerate the normal process of somatic and brain aging, in a self reinforcing circle enhanced by common lifestyle in Western countries.

This unifying model of stress and its consequences is based on a huge amount of experimental evidences of its neuroendocrine, immunological, inflammatory, metabolic, emotional and cognitive implications.

Such an integrative view of the consequences of abnormal lifestyle deserves an integrative approach based on natural principles and methods, aimed at both short-term counteracting the  factors presently acting against wellness and inducing changes towards long lasting more healthy ways of life.

A series of rebalancing tools may be jointly used in well designed programs of recovering of wellness.

Benefits of Mindfulness or “Mindfulness” Meditation

Mindfulness is practice of meditation developed from the tradition of Buddhism, widely used, indipendently from its strictly religious meaning, to help subjects bring attention to the present state of their mind and body. It was widely demonstrated active in recovering a mental and somatic equilibrium and in reducing all the somatic implications of chronic stress (for example, normalizing the circadian rhythm of the hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal axis, whose alteration represents one of the core neuroendocrine stress-related modifications).

Also the millennial tradition of Yoga, also in this case apart from its religious and philosophical origin, can provide fundamental tools to recover a relaxed equilibium of mental, muscular and visceral state, jointly altered by chronic stress. A lot of practices based on the principles of yoga may be used to reinforce the mental control on body functions. It may exert a very profound effect on re-establishing the psychosomatic equilibrium, constantly disrupted by stress, as well as on teaching new and long lasting styles of relationship with the body.

Both of them may act in a synergic way with other techniques aimed at strenghtening the awareness of one’s own body and the control of mind on muscular tone, breath rhythm, etc, such as the Pilates method, originarily derived from the yoga concepts and now developed to an effective autonomous rebalancing technique.

Other methods to fight stress and addictions

Moreover, also methods from the millennial tradition of Chinese Medicine, such as acupuncture or energetic massage, can contribute to restore the body-mind equilibrium altered by stress.

This heterogeneous complex of methods derived from the Oriental tradition may jointly counteract in a natural manner the consequences of an innatural way of life, so frequently at the basis of chronic stress. They proved their efficacy also on the basis of demonstrated changes of biological parameters according to the Western scientific knowledges, such as the improvement of endocrine and immunological alterations, the reduction of inflammatory state, etc., supporting the importance of an integrative view in any program aimed at the reduction of stress and the recovery of wellness.

Natural dietotherapy and nutraceutical aid can play a further primary role in every antistress program, jointly with rational physical exercise, also performed in a relaxing and regenerating enviroment, such as that provided by different types of balneotherapy.

The personalised association of the above techniques, together with an individual psychological support,  may result in an integrative program aimed at restoring and reinforce wellness, recovering mental and somatic balance, in a unique scope of relaxing, detoxifying and antiaging outcome.

Wellness Destiny

Profesor Giuseppe Bersani

Profesor Ordinario di Psiquiatria Universidad "Sapienza" di Roma, Italia