Stress Relief: Get Past Your Past

Stress Relief: Get Past Your Past - Featured Image

Stress issues like anxiety, panic, depression, and sleeplessness are incredibly common.  More people struggle with one or more of these symptoms than do not.  Yet, as much as they have been studied, there are still many unanswered questions as to their genesis and treatments.  While there are clearly areas of the brain, particularly the amygdala, specifically the right lateral amygdala, involved in the problem, finding consistency in the studies, due to the complexity of the brain, has shown to be difficult.  The efficacy of using drugs to treat these kinds of conditions has been found lacking on many levels. Side-effects, the unknown mechanisms related to how the drugs help or cause harm, and the fact that placebos or other epigenetic means have similar results have put conventional treatment measures under scrutiny.  Although sadly, they still are the leading forms of care.


     I taught my first class in Anatomy and Physiology at a local college, I was shocked to find that the largest chapter in the 4 inch thick text book was on stress. The fact is, stress is not just a term or a state of mind, it is incredibly damaging to your body. Stress is something you must drastically minimize in order to not just stay sane, but to stay healthy. Damaging stress is created when forces or circumstances outside the body overwhelm the mind, the physiology, and the senses in the body causing them to go through a negative change.  Unlike the obviously harmful events such as a fresh cut that bleeds, the damaging and even deadly effects of stress can often be a silent killer. There is a direct link between stress and the dysfunction of various parts and systems within the body. Stress reactions alter the digestive system, over-stimulate certain glands while under stimulating others, affect heart function, and change breathing. As a result, stress has an actual, measurable negative impact on blood pressure, cholesterol, electrolytes, brain chemistry, blood sugar levels, joint function, hormonal balance, among many others. To make stress more frightening, most of the physiological problems associated with stress will speed up the aging process and cause or contribute to literally every type of symptom or disease known to man. Stress even makes you gain weight.


      People all face much of the same outside factors that cause stress. Work, relationships, school, personal and family health problems, money issues, and even positive events like weddings and parties can all be stress-producing circumstances. However, none of these things are necessarily bad. Both happy events and tragedies alike cause a stress response in the body. Some stress is unavoidable. The only way to have zero stress is to not get up in the morning! On the other hand, stress only becomes negative when your response to it is negative. The condition we call bad stress or “distress” is entirely self-induced. Weddings and parties, assuming you interpret these as happy events are called “eustress” and that stress is beneficial. It is how each individual responds to stress, and not the stress itself, that causes a negative reaction in the body.


   The stress response is not a person, a condition, or an event, it is a reaction to a person, a condition, or an event. Just how negative this reaction is will determine the amount of emotional turmoil and damage done to the body. Effectively, any injury induced by stress is a self-inflicted wound.  Public speaking can cause an amazing amount of negative stress for most people. It scares a lot of people half to death – literally. Then again, public speaking cannot be considered bad stress in and of itself, because while some people are afraid of public speaking and will suffer miserably throughout the entire experience, myself and many others thoroughly enjoy speaking in public and see it as an opportunity to entertain, teach, and motivate. The same can be said for horror movies and rollercoasters – one person’s distress is another’s eustress. Ultimately, people get to decide.


     Therefore, the future holds more of a focus on counseling and epigenetics.  When compared to medication, counseling, fitness, nutrition, and meditative activities always match or exceed the results.  Yet, there are no side-effects and the individual has advanced their health as well as their psycho-emotional well-being.  Through our care, workshops, and programs, we have seen 1000s get past their past issues with stress and create a future filled with peace.