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Wellspring - January 5, 2015

STRESS RESPONSE MANAGEMENT

by

Xander Abrams, Ph.D.



Stress: “a physical, chemical or emotional factor (as trauma, histamine, or fear) to which an individual fails to make a satisfactory adaptation, and which causes physiologic tensions that may be a contributing cause of disease.” Webster’s Third New International Dictionary

Many people evaluate their stress level by the intensity of the event rather than focusing on their reaction, which more accurately dictates their stress level. The Stressful event (the stressor) does not dictate your stress level.

The focus of Mind Body healing is resolution of the emotional factors (fear, anger, depression) that contribute to stress. This is within your power. When you perceive a threat complex physiological and hormonal reactions occur (fright, fight, or flight response). These stress hormones are extremely helpful when there is a real physical danger. You can learn to manage these old adaptations while developing more healthy reactions by focusing your attention on things you can influence…your own attitude. For most of us, it’s not so much the stressor, but how we react to it, that determines the outcome.

There is a difference between “normal” everyday stressors and chronic psychological stress. Psychological stress is overwhelmingly about loss of control (powerlessness), loss of predictability, a sense of helplessness, and the loss of a sense of social support. In both psychological and physiological stress your body reacts in the same way.

THE RESILIENT PERSONALITY

Research conducted over the past forty years demonstrates that certain behaviors and attitudes promote wellness. Dr. Susan Kobasa described this hardiness as the 3 C’s: Commitment, Control and Challenge. Commitment is an active attitude involving curiosity about yourself and your environment. Control is a belief that you can influence the effects of an event by focusing on what you can control. Challenge is defined as seeing change as a creative opportunity for expression and growth.

Social affiliation is an important aspect of the resilient personality. People who are hardy relax for 20 minutes a day, exercise on a regular basis and keep their diet healthy.

Hardiness can be learned. Kobasa and Dr. Salvatore Maddi trained telephone executives in hardiness. These people experienced reduced anxiety, less depression, more job satisfaction, fewer physical illnesses, lower blood pressure and better sleep.

You can practice disease-resistant behaviors in two ways:

(1) Focusing your energy on something you have wanted to do for a long time instead of the out-of-control stressful event;

(2) Reconstructing a stressful situation by realizing how the event could have been worse and three things you could have done to make your reaction better.

PROVEN STRESS BUSTERS

Diet

Imagery

Mindfulness/Hypnosis

Stress Reduction

Relaxation Response

Pain Management

Anger Management

Exercise

Biofeedback

Quality of Life

Support

Spirit

Giving

Relationship

Attitude 
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