It’s incredible, but approximately two thirds to three fourths of Americans say they need help for relief of stress. Every day, I encounter many patients at work, family members and friends to say they are stressed. Therefore, what is stress and why does it happen?
According to the dictionary, stress is defined as “a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances.” Other words that are used to describe stress are “strain,” “pressure”, “worry”.
That just about says it all, doesn’t it?
Keep in mind that the stress response is critical to our survival. It can save your life or help you react quicker,stronger, or better in a life-threatening situation. We as human people need to have down time. We just do not do well without it.
Ultimately, it is my belief that a good portion of stress, not all stress is self-induced. I cannot speak for everyone, but I can speak about what I have observed. I have observed many people who just cannot seem to ‘turn off’. Often times when I ask patients how is their sleep and how many hours of sleep do they get I hear things like “I don’t have time to sleep” or “I can’t sleep because my mind is spinning with all the things I must do!” Those are only a few of the answers I get. I too have caught myself, at times saying those exact words.
How we react to stress means a lot, too. If we keep freaking out and over-reacting we run the risk of heart disease, adrenal fatigue/burnout, memory loss, burn-out, obesity, diabetes, headaches, depression and headaches just to name a few. Ignore these symptoms long enough and you get real sick! If you cannot get rid of the stress in your life, you can learn how to respond in a much more calm manner – and hey! Maybe you will even start sleeping again!
Dr. Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. a clinical psychologist and author and has set up a four-step process to tame your stress response call STOP. I have included it below and encourage you to try it when things in your life seem to be going crazy!
Follow these Steps to help STOP
S = STOP what you are doing and put things down or walk away for a minute.
T = Take a few deep breaths! Many folks with a lot of stress in our lives are shallow breathers. Take a deep breath – or twelve!
O = Observe what is stressing you out so much. Include the feelings, thoughts and emotions. Sit quietly for a few minutes and notice that thoughts are not facts! They are not permanent. Notice any emotions and how they are being expressed in the body. Research shows that just naming your emotions can turn down the fear in your brain waves and have a calming effect. Also notice your body. Are you standing? Sitting? Any aches or pains?
P = Proceed with something that will support you in the moment: talk to a friend, rub your shoulders, have a cup of tea, etc. Treat this whole exercise as an experiement. Think about where there are opportunities in the day for you to just STOP – waking up in the morning, taking a shower, at a stop light, and while checking email (if they’re not stressful
emails!). Cultivate more mindfulness!
What do you think the days, weeks and months ahead would be like if you started stopping more often?
At LifeScape Premier we practice functional medicine. We don’t want to just treat your symptoms, we want to discover the root cause of them so we can treat your condition. In most cases, stress is just a symptom. Let us help you get your life back on track by figuring out why you’re always tired and then working together with you to develop and execute on a solution.