Everyone experiences some sort of stress in life. Be it emotional, physical, spiritual, or
mental, it has direct effects on our thoughts, actions, and well-being. Sometimes we feel
anxious, other times excited and motivated during stressful times. What’s most
interesting to me is that the exact same stress inducing activity may cause opposite
responses in different people. For example, let’s consider public speaking. There are
those who get nervous and even physically and mentally frozen at the thought of standing
in front of a crowd to deliver a message. Then there are others who get so excited they
can barely contain themselves. It’s our individual perceptions that cause our reactions to
stress. The “fight or flight” response may be instinctual; however, many of our other
reactions to stress are learned from either our own life experiences, genetics, or the
experiences of others that we may have witnessed.
The good news is that our reactions can also be un-learned, and we can re-program
ourselves to respond differently and manage our stress in a positive and productive
manner. It’s not easy, and it may take some practice of noticing what our triggers are that
cause our stress. Is it driving or sitting in traffic while commuting to and from work?
Preparing for the holidays? Public speaking? Sales meetings? Finances? Maybe it’s not
always the same thing. Or, maybe it’s a combination of all of those things plus the mixed
messages we are bombarded with daily from the news, media, advertising, radio, etc.
Whatever it is, we need to find a moment of pause where we can interrupt the sequence
of “cause and effect” or “action and reaction” so we are able to respond effectively and
choose our own response.
Chronic stress is linked to many inflammatory health risks including anxiety, depression,
pain, cardiovascular disease, insomnia, and more. It is best to learn how and why you are
experiencing a stress response, what risks it may pose to you personally, and how to
integrate stress management techniques into your daily life.
Preparing ourselves to perform during stressful moments is truly the key to managing
stress. This can be done through meditation, acupuncture, exercise, hobbies, yoga, tai
chi… whatever it takes to separate ourselves from the stressful part of daily life, where
we can reset our intentions and reclaim our mindset. All of the above options are proven
to alter our heart rate variability, neurotransmitter production and stimulate endorphins
(feel good hormones), which help regulate our response to stress. The more often we
perform these activities, the more likely we are able to control our stress response and use
it to our advantage. Perhaps we need to view stress as an opportunity to choose between
“fight or flight” instead of simply reacting to stressful situations.
If your stress response is causing concern, schedule a wellness consultation so we can
help identify underlying causes and related health risks. From there, we can create a
treatment plan together that is both meaningful and manageable.
Before I sign off, I want to share one of my favorite ways to distress and reset my own
mindset when things get too hectic. I do this daily before getting out of bed in the
morning and just before falling asleep. It’s a breathing exercise that Dr. Andrew Weil
speaks about called the 4-7-8 Exercise. There are two links provided below, one directly
to the method, and the other to Dr. Weil’s site with two other exercises that you may find
Ryan Lombardo, DAOM
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