Managing Stress

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Friday I attended a seminar at Palm Health about “developing a stress skill set.”  They explained the importance of understanding our own character traits and unconscious mental backdrop (this is what unconsciously shapes our experiences, thoughts, and emotions) in order to make changes in our life.  Similar to functional medicine, we need to understand how our bodies work and how what we put in them and do to them, affects our well being. It comes down to knowing yourself and developing a skill set for mental and physical well being.

Before sharing some bullet points from the seminar, here are a couple interesting/disturbing points I read from the book “The Body Keeps The Score” by Vessel Van Der Kolk.

The number of people treated for depression has tripled over the past two decades and one in ten Americans now take antidepressants.”

”If these drugs were as effective as we have been led to believe, depression should now have become a minor issue in our society.”

”Mainstream medicine is firmly committed to a better life through chemistry (drugs) versus looking at the fact that we can actually change our own physiology through other skill sets.”

I mention these points because the certification I’m starting in August is all about learning how to develop a skill set to change my physiology then learning how to help others (Katie is currently going through this certification so I’m excited about the resources we’ll have to share at our gym!)

Here are some points/take always from the seminar:

*Stress is defined as uncomfortable emotional experiences (biochemical, physiological, and behavioral changes). Stress is a normal part of life, however, how we respond is where we have choice. We need some stress, such as working hard at something meaningful.  This is good stress. But sometimes stress is a signal of something toxic in our lives, such as a toxic environment, relationship, or lifestyle that causes us harm. This stress can signal that we need to make a change.

*Sometimes we cause our own stress by over glorifying being busy.

Developing a Stress Skillset:

*Constant searching for more techniques can actually add to our stress.  It’s not what we do but how we do it.

*Our skillset needs to go beyond “getting away from our stress.” We need tools to get calm beyond vacation and substances. For example, learning to perceive a situation more accurately and expanding our thoughts and feelings around that situation through talking or working with a coach.

*Once we understand our character traits, we can think about how that relates to our own stress. For example, if you are a “novelty seeking” type person, you might feel stress if you don’t think you’re getting the credit, the job, the attention, etc. you deserve. Journaling is a helpful tool to help make us more aware of our thoughts.

*Increasing our resilience also plays a role in strengthening our mental capacity, emotional stability and our health in general. We can’t believe every thought we have and need to be critical consumers of our thoughts.

Categories to grow in:

Love – working in service of others.

Hope – practice of letting go of struggle and worry. There is meaning and purpose in what you’re going through. Set goals with what you value.

Faith – practice growing in awareness. Knowing what is good and true in your life while accepting reality and adapting.

*Our inner state affects others around us.  There are some very interesting studies about how one person’s heart rate can affect the nervous system of people around them. Check out the HeartMath Institute if interested in learning more about the heart and nervous system as they relate to well being.

And last but not least…we need to work to accept reality, adapt and move forward.

I look forward to learning more over the next several months about how to support people with developing this resilience because we all deal with the ups and downs of life.  But how we choose to look at them is a big part of our well being!