Does Rationalizing Our Vices Take Into Consideration Accountability to Those Close To Us??

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The title almost sounds like an oxymoron. How does one imbibe in ‘things not good for us’ and still rationalize being accountable for our actions to those closest to us? For example, say you take up smoking. Is this a logical decision in which you consider the side effects and weigh/measure your chances of beating the odds, or, is this an emotional decision, in which we merely hope and not plan for  issues that our families might have to contend with down the road.

I am 100% sure that most of us with vices are going down the emotional route of choice; makes me feel good, makes me hip, is a great escape from my reality etc. The decision for most doesn’t typically start out as a long-term choice, but for many, ends up being a lifetime habit. As the popular connotation goes,  a habit may be formed after repetition of the behavior for approx 21 days (not scientific fact, but common knowledge that has transcended time.) (Starting a Habit Link)

The American Society of Psychology’s Monitor Staff Member, Zak Stambor, published an article titled, ‘Stressed Out Nation.‘ Mr. Stambor summarizes that “Many Americans resort to unhealthy habits to help manage extreme stress;” based on a 2006 survey ( by APA’s Practice Directorate in partnership with the National Women’s Health Resource Center and ivillage.com). “The survey finds that people experiencing stress are more likely to report hypertension, anxiety, depression or obesity. The survey, which sampled 2,152 adults who are 18 years or older, is part of the Practice Directorate’s “Mind/Body Health: For a Healthy Mind and Body, Talk to a Psychologist” campaign. The initiative aims to highlight psychology’s role at the intersection between mental and physical well-being.”

The article ventures on into explaining the differences in how genders perceive and manage stress. “Stress is particularly prevalent for the primary decision-maker in the household for health issues, says Mitternight. Since 73 percent of women identify themselves as such, women feel the brunt of the health-care burden, she adds.” “Women are the health-care managers of their families,” says Amber McCracken, director of communications for the National Women’s Health Resource Center. “From taking care of their own health to serving as the caregivers for their children, partner and parents, each aspect of care brings stress. Unfortunately, too often women do not take the necessary steps to alleviate that stress, and their own physical health suffers.”

“By focusing on the physical and mental toll of stress, the campaign is shining light on how many Americans react to both work and family related stress-by engaging in unhealthy behaviors, such as comfort eating, making poor diet choices, smoking and being inactive, says Helen Mitternight, assistant executive director of public relations in the Practice Directorate.”  “The survey suggests that for most Americans stress results from a conglomeration of concerns. For instance, an office worker stressing out over a project deadline may quickly down a hamburger and fries while he or she works to save time. In turn, that stress-fueled decision may next lead to health worries.”

“The office worker’s stressors are not unique, as more than half the survey respondents included concerns about money, work, family member health problems or the state of the world today, as some of their leading sources of stress. More than 40 percent of participants also cited the health of immediate family members and caring for their children as common stressors.” “An effective means of dealing with stress, suggests Russ Newman, PhD, JD, executive director of APA’s Practice Directorate, is learning how to cope.”

“Everybody experiences stress,” says Newman. “The key is how effectively people deal with and manage stress. People who turn to comfort food or smoking are starting a vicious cycle. Their attempts to reduce stress can actually lead to health problems that result in even more stress.” “To help break the cycle, Newman suggests that stressed people pay attention to their behaviors and lifestyle choices. Additionally, he notes that although some behaviors can be particularly difficult to change, working with a psychologist can help modify those actions.”

I believe we all agree that stress exists and some have more than others. My personal concern is for those around us that have to deal with “our unhealthy practices.” I have a very hard time understanding how anyone can do something that will create negative consequences and take away from loved ones timelines/ choices/quality of life etc. Has the practice of examining our conscience mutated out of our human brains or are we just a ‘woe me society?’ We’re suppose to love our neighbors etc., but this conflict of bad habits/vices (or whatever you want to call them) and accountability to others, definitely  muddies the waters in my mind. I do realize that we are humans and do make mistakes but wouldn’t it be better if we thought about our own personal actions/choices before we do them, rather than after? Life just might be a tad easier if we did.

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