woman with her hands covering her face
Elson Haas, MD
written by
Elson Haas, MD

Jun 30, 2022

Article Tags: 5 Keys | stress reduction

Stress Management

One definition of stress is the perception that we don’t have the resources to handle a problem or situation, not enough money to pay all the bills, or energy to manage the demands of family or work. We can trigger stress reactions by how we respond to our day-to-day lives and how we choose to act (or not act, or react) to our life experiences.

The topic of stress is so instrumental to our overall health yet its impact is still not sufficiently understood. What triggers stress is unique to each person. For some it might be a challenging relationship at home or work, bills to pay, or watching the many varied worldwide catastrophes on the news. It might be something severe such as losing a loved one, or being abused by someone, or something as simple as our children or spouse leaving their dirty dishes or clothes around the house.

 Healthy Stress and Chronic Stress

There is also “healthy stress.” This includes a desire to do well on a test or interview, having a response to actual danger rather than the fear of a possible future danger or threat. With healthy stresses, we have an appropriate physiological response (adrenal gland and adrenaline hormone) to provide us the energy, mental capacity and ability to react quickly and respond wisely. This kind of response typically subsides once the danger passes. The main concern for our health is chronic stress, which is the persistent worry and fear about things that might happen, or reliving past events.

There are many types and sources of stress, especially in our modern lives. Here are a few common areas and examples:

  • Physical stress from intense exercise or competitive events as well as injury or illness, also moving or travel and life transitions like pregnancy.
  • Emotional stress from relationships, love (or the lack of it), marriage and divorce, raising children, taking care of a sick loved one, anger, jealousy, fears and phobias.
  • Mental stress from the demands of our work or school, deadlines, our mind chatter, taking tests, speaking in public, or just too many decisions to make.
  • Financial stress from money concerns and paying bills, the stock market, mortgage payments, how your partner is spending the family finances, or how the government is spending our money.
  • Environmental stresses at the level of our cells and tissues from toxins and free radicals or EMF exposures.
  • Spiritual stress from facing important life decisions, such as where we’ll live or work, who to be with on a personal level, or what our life’s purpose is. Life transitions such as adolescence, pregnancy, parenthood, or aging may also fit into this category.

These various factors do not operate in isolation and in fact often compound one another to intensify our response. Of course, stress is a major contributing factor to our vulnerability to disease or slowing down healing. Our immune and nervous systems, heart, mind, and digestive tract are most sensitive to emotional upset and stress. Having too many stressors without a healthy outlet for relief is a major health concern.

Learning to know your self and find ways to cope are the keys to managing the stresses of your daily life. We can react with stress to almost any situation or experience, and what challenges each of us is uniquely personal. You may want to add your own questions and answers here as well. Awareness of your triggers to stress is a first step to managing it.

Stress Questions to Ask

  • What are the most stressful issues/situations you are experiencing now?
  • Is there a repeating pattern?
  • What can you do to lessen the stress?
    • Physically
    • Emotionally
    • Mentally
    • Spiritually
  • What specific stress reduction techniques are currently available to you that you can use regularly? Where can you learn new ones?
  • How can you manage a stressful situation when you can’t change it?
  • Do you have the support you need when challenges arise?
  • Who are your trusted friends that you can talk with?
  • How aware are they of you and your behavior patterns?
  • Are they supportive or critical?
  • Do you avoid or run away from stressful situations or are you able/willing to confront them?

What Can You Do?

  • Attitude—How you look at your life. Take positive actions for supporting mood and energy—this is the 5th Key to Staying Healthy, but it’s also #1.
  • Learn a stress reduction technique like Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction
  • Exercise—Physical activity with regular program is a great de-stressor
  • Take a 10 minute walk (breathe deeply)
  • Meditation Take a breather – 5-30 minutes to meditate
  • Learn how to practice ‘rethinking’ – seeing the situation differently
  • Create social support – find a listening and caring friend or family member
  • Spend time in nature
  • Herbs & Supplements—Support Adrenals with nutrients like B vitamins, C, and minerals, plus Herbs like Licorice root, Ashwaganda, and Siberian ginseng
  • A sense of humor – watch a funny movie or TV show, read a book that helps you laugh and gain perspective.

From the Free Online Course – The 5 Keys to Staying Healthy

Based on the book Staying Healthy with NEW Medicine