Woman stressed out on laptop with notebook

Stressed about Being Stressed: Breaking the Vicious Cycle

A feeling of urgency can be a good thing for many of us, at least initially. A healthy amount of stress propels us to get things done, however, the more stress that piles on, the more we start to feel it. And because we each know the symptoms we get under stress, such as headaches, irritability, fatigue, anxiety, pain, weight gain, burnout, and more, we start to fear the stress.  Eventually we start getting stressed about being stressed. Herein lies “the vicious cycle.” Below are 3 ways to deal with stress and nip this cycle in the bud.

First, what is stress exactly?

And why is it important that we deal with it? When you feel stress, that familiar clutch in the gut or breathlessness or mounting sense of overwhelm, your body tries to help you run for the hills—literally. Your system is flooded with stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline, elevating your heart rate and blood pressure to get more oxygen into your bloodstream. Because there is a lion after you!

Except there is no lion, and running away isn’t what you need to do. But stress is using up the energy your body would otherwise use to digest food, repair tissue, and renew cells. When you see a plastic bag fluttering along the freeway while you’re stuck in traffic and it reminds you that while you’re worrying about being late to your appointment that you also need to do something about climate change, glucose is being sent to your blood to give you energy to sprint for the safety of your cave.  In a very short while of fruitless fretting, you have a fuel shortage in your body. What quick fix will solve the problem? Sugar to the rescue! Good thing you have those Milky Ways in your bag.

So you binge on sugar, feel better for 15 minutes, get off the highway right as the sugar crash begins, and arrive at your appointment feeling depleted instead of energized. Now that you’re  doing a presentation to potential clients with a bedraggled body and mind, what’s your response? Stress, of course.

Regardless of what stresses you, you must break this cycle.

Stress Technique #1: Eliminate the stressor.

In order to eliminate the stressor, it is essential to pause for some self-reflection. What’s stressing you out? Take a minute and really think about it. Is it finances? Is it a family member? Is it your responsibility for ___? Is it pressure to do ____?

If it’s work, can you change your position or leave your job? Can you give up your title as captain of your tennis team or the extra work you do with the PTA? If your commute on metronorth is too long, can you relocate? These are the questions you have to ask yourself and sometimes the solution becomes clear. Other times, you might evaluate the stressor and conclude that eliminating the stressor just isn’t possible. For example: If your 3 year old is having afternoon tantrums, the ones where they scream so loud you think they might rupture your eardrum, no matter how hard you try, you just can’t put your kid back.  Some things you can’t eliminate.

Moving on to number two.

Stress Technique #2:. Cope with stress.

Once you have concluded that eliminating the stressor is not possible and you have finally come to accept that there isn’t a pill you can pop to deal with stress, it’s time to figure out your personal coping techniques.

Here a list of some ideas. Feel free to add to this list. Let’s just make sure your techniques are healthful coping techniques. A bottle of gin is NOT an example of a healthful coping technique.

  • Mindfulness/Meditation: Try a Meditation Class, Purchase a guided CD, Watch a YouTube Video, or download and use a phone application such as Calm or headspace
  • Epsom Salt Bath (add music, candles)
  • Walk your dog or if you don’t have a dog, stop at the humane society and love on another dog
  • Sleep / Nap
  • Take a vacation
  • Go to yoga
  • Spend time with friends
  • Sporting Activities (Sailing, Kayaking, hiking, golfing etc.)
  • Listen to music
  • Get a pedicure

Once you have a couple of these things on board, it’s up to you to implement them. Next we need to work on your head game.

Moving on to number three.

Stress Technique #3:  Change your reaction to the stressor.

“Sure,” you’re thinking, “easier said than done”. There’s no doubt that changing your reaction is the most challenging way to deal with stress, but it is often the most rewarding.   In order to change your reaction, try to gain an alternate perspective.   I suggest reading a book. Recently I read “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck” and found it helpful. There are many others. You could also listen to a TED talk, or meet with a therapist. Again, just pick something.

Stress Technique #4: Find a body-supporting supplement

With all of this, don’t forget to reach out for help. Stress can deplete the body’s store of B vitamins, and an elevated heart rate and flood of stress hormones can set up a cascading domino effect of ill health.  There are some powerful herbs, vitamins, and homeopathics that can help along the way. Consider the healing effects of B Vitamins, Holy Basil, Valerian, and Magnesium. I can help you select the right supplement in the right amounts to support your body while you find better ways of reducing your stress.

Don’t run from that lion alone. I’m here to help.

A 15 minute complimentary phone session can answer many of your questions about treatment for cervical dysplasia. Schedule your call by contacting me at my office, Shalva Clinic, at 203-916-4600.