Matthew J. Edlund M.D.

The Power of Rest

Celebrity Rehab Prevention - Avoiding Addiction

The best way to good health is not getting sick.

Posted Aug 11, 2010

Every week another celebrity shows up in Rehab, but do we ask why? The addicted performer has been a staple of plays, then movies, now unreality television. Are there any ways to present this massacre of talent, including for non-stars? Here's some of the risks of fame and their antidotes:

Post-Work Adoration

With people clamoring to touch your hair, grab your autograph or just glance at your face, it's not hard to start feeling you deserve a title like North Korea's Kim Jong Il, AKA "Guardian Deity of the Planet."

Risks - entourage of sycophants; stimulants, alcohol and opiates to "keep the feeling going"; narcissistic withdrawal from daily routines (too important to clean your room, etc.)

Antidotes: Keeping up with family and old friends; time in nature; spiritual rest techniques; reading history books (including entertainment history) and noting how many names you recognize

Get It While You Can

The Internet Age is fast and fickle, and you can watch your ratings move up and down by the minute. And the next phone call, even if it's 4 in the morning, might be your next big break.

Risks - Impossible work schedules; never ending networking; mental and physical exhaustion; stimulants and sleeping pills; sex addiction; tobacco

Antidotes - Short and long term planning, in writing, of what you want to do; keeping old friends close; protecting sleep time; daily physical fitness routines; spiritual rest techniques for perspective; making life musical by following body clocks and keeping regular times for activity and rest

Public Is Private

Getting photographed every time you go to the bathroom can drive anyone over the edge; why else would Jodie Foster go off on a 17 year old?

Risks: Anger, helplessness, depression, physical violence, alcohol.

Antidotes: Planned, scheduled time away; friends in spots other than financial and cultural capitals; hiking in natural scenery; physical and mental rest techniques to quickly calm you in the maelstrom; acting in the media like you're "just folks" (also good politics).

Performance Pressure

If ten thousand people are screaming your name, you better be good - really, really good. Plus everything will be out on the Net inside two hours.

Risks: Panic attacks; unending anxiety; fear for one's physical safety; alcohol; stimulants; tobacco
Prevention - frequent rehearsals, with liberal use of rest downtimes (necessary for memory formation, including for physical skills); self-hypnosis and paradoxical relaxation to calm down; scheduled review of performances to see what worked and what didn't; quick social connections to friends and family

Shift Work and HYPERAROUSAL

It's 10:30 PM; in thirty seconds you're supposed to perform perfectly for hours, schmooze at post-performance parties and then suddenly turn off the excitement and fall asleep instantly at 3:30.

Risks: Stimulants, very much including coffee and tea; sleeping pills - often in combination with stimulants to produce the "Up Down Trap" of getting "on" to perform and then quickly "off"; alcohol; profound sleep deprivation with intermittent depression; physical malaise.

Antidotes: protected sleep time, with quiet, comfortable, cool, dark sleeping quarters; physical fitness, including dancing; control of after work alcohol (alcohol effects on you at midnight are 2-3 times what they are at 6 P.M.); physical rest techniques like yoga, deep breathing and paradoxical relaxation; vegetarian diet

Travel

Seeing the world can be great fun even if airplanes are high desert environments crammed with internationally competitive recycled viruses. And that's after you manage to get on board.

Risks: Jet lag; depression; colds and flus; endless discombobulation; sleeping pills; alcohol; downers; feeling your body belongs to someone else

Antidotes: physical rest techniques like yoga and deep breathing; avoiding red eye flights; mental rest techniques like self-hypnosis; reading when not working (The Transportation Safety Administration seems unfrightened by books or magazines); frequent small meals; avoiding stimulants

Live Fast and Full

Warren Zevon and Lady Gaga said "I'll sleep when I'm dead" and many performers think the same. Unfortunately biology works the other way around; every animal model of sleep deprivation ends up with very dead animals.

Risks: Stimulants; downers; alcohol; hallucinogens; narcissistic relationships that end really badly; infections; physical collapse; suicidal behaviors

Antidotes: Conversations with old people, particularly performers; talks with grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles, mentors and teachers; regular vacations; spiritual and mental rest techniques that provoke feelings of awe; yoga; scheduled daily physical workouts.

Risk Reduction for Non-Performers

Even if you're not a celebrity, you might be at risk for rehab. Sometimes the risk is genetic, and sometimes it's behavioral, as happens to overstressed, multitasking workers trying to survive an economic crisis.

How do you prevent getting hooked? Social connections; physical, mental, social and spiritual rest; nutritional variety; regularity of daily pattern; alternating mental and physical activity; setting a daily rhythm to life.

Mostly listen to your body. Just learn the way your body is built. We renew and rebuild our bodies very quickly and effectively. One way to avoid Rehab is to enjoy the Way of Rest, the process by which our body naturally restores, rebuilds, and renews.

Use your body the way it's built, and it will thank you.

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