The goal of this website is to assist you in identifying stressors in your environment, so that you can develop a plan to effectively reduce and minimize the negative effects of stress in your daily life. This automatically means experiencing less distress, less pain, less anxiety as well as a lessening of other negative emotions such as grief, guilt, helplessness, anger, rage, jealousy, envy, and fear.
The advice offered on this website is not a substitute for consultation with your professional health care practitioner or medical provider. The advice offered on this website is for educational purposes only. You should always consult your medical doctor, nurse practitioner, therapist or other professional clinicians before making any lifestyle changes.
What is Stress?
Recently, stress has been called America’s number one health challenge. Did you know that surveys of the American public indicate that over 75% of all visits to primary care doctors or hospital Emergency rooms were due to health problems related to stress? Due to the increasingly hectic pace of life in our society, and given that change of almost any kind can induce stress, it is helpful to know how to reduce or minimize stress so that we can lead healthy, happy, and productive lives.
Stress is a physiological and psychological response to events in our environment which represent a change in circumstances, and therefore may be perceived by the body or mind as a threat. The human biological stress response of “fight or flight” was designed to protect and help increase our odds of surviving potential threats within our environment. While the stress response helped our ancestors survive real life and death situations in the past, in today’s modern world much of the stress – threats – we experience and feel are in response to imagined – psychological – rather than real physical threats.
What we know
Prolonged and repeated activation of your stress response can take a heavy toll on the body, increasing the chances for stress related illness and disease to occur. When activated regularly, this continual emergency mode of responding to stressors can lead to chronic stress. If repeatedly invoked, chronic stress can eventually contribute to disease states such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypertension, strokes and ulcers.
Habitual Chronic stress results in hyperactivation of the hypothalamus, pituitary and adrenal glands [HPA Axis] resulting in ramped up production of adrenaline, norepinephrine, cortisol and other stress related hormones and neurotransmitters.
The effects upon the mind and body are immediate: the release of stress hormones into the bloodstream ready the body to either flee or stand and fight. Moreover, an increased heart rate and blood flow to your large muscles gives you the ability to run faster or fight more intensely. At the same time, your digestive, reproductive and immune system responses slow down.
Unfortunately, even when there is no actual or “real” threat, our bodies and our mind can respond as if there were. For example, the same “fight or flight” fear reaction of your brain’s amygdale, which deals with emotion, is activated when you become anxious about your bills or after an argument with a loved one. This is also true should you begin to think negatively about a looming deadline or become angry and frustrated while stuck in bumper to bumper traffic. In all of these cases, if you are “normal” and do not control your stress reaction, your heart rate will increase, your blood pressure will rise, you will begin to sweat, and your mind may begin to focus on a series of negative thoughts with “bad” or undesirable outcomes.
Due to the increasingly hectic pace of life in our society, and given that change of almost any kind can induce stress, it is helpful to know how to reduce or minimize stress so that we can lead healthy, happy and productive lives. Since any type of change which generates fear can be perceived as a threat thereby triggering stress, becoming aware of our stress is the first step in moving toward maintaining states of optimal homeostasis and well being.
Left unchecked, an automatic type of narrow focusing may occur which can eventually launch you into an emergency mode state where even minor upsets in your daily routine can keep your habitual stress response elevated. Obviously, most of us would like to minimize our distress, and the impact of any daily hassles we might encounter which would ordinarily frustrate us. But only if we knew how!!!
Examples of medical conditions either caused by or exacerbated by stress:
- Autoimmune Diseases
- Cardiovascular disease
- Chronic pain
- Eating Disorders
- High Blood Pressure
- Irritable Bowel syndrome
- Loss of Sex Drive
- Migraine Headache
- Peptic Ulcer
- Skin Problems, i.e. hives, eczema
- Substance Abuse
- Weight Gain or Loss
Examples of Highly Stressful Life Changes and Events:
- Being Arrested or Jailed
- Care of Chronically or Terminally Ill Family Member
- Career Change
- Change in Eating Habits
- Change in Financial Status
- Change in Schools
- Change in Sleeping Habits
- Change in Working Conditions or Hours or Responsibilities
- Child Leaving Home
- Death of a Close Relative
- Death of Spouse or significant other
- Divorce or Separation
- Dysfunctional Relationships
- Engagement and/or Marriage
- Graduating from Middle School, High School, College, Professional or GraduateSchool
- Isolation and Lack of Social Support System
- Job Termination or Being Fired
- Getting Married
- New Debt
- Planned or Unplanned Pregnancy
- Racial and/or Sexual Discrimination or Harassment
- Reconciliation with Spouse or Significant Other
- Relocation to Another City or Country
- Retirement from Job or Career
- Serious Illness, Injury or Disease
- Spouse begins or Ceases Working
- Filing for Bankruptcy
- Losing your Home to Foreclosure
Some known ways to reduce or minimize anxiety, pain, and stress:
- Adequate sleep including eliminating sleep deficit
- Alexander Technique
- Art Therapy
- Autogenic Relaxation
- Chinese Medicine
- Color Therapy
- Dance Therapy
- Deep Diaphragmatic Breathing
- Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)
- Guided Mental Imagery
- Heart Rate Variability
- Laughter Therapy
- Music Therapy
- Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP)
- Open Focus Technique
- Sudarsan Kriya
- Tuning Fork Healing