Integrative Health Blog

Ask the Wellness Coach: How Do I Reduce the Stress in My Life?

Posted by NIHA Staff on Thu, Oct 06, 2016

This is a popular question and can be approached from many directions.  I believe the approach iStock_red_stress_ball.jpgmust be developed by you and your practitioner as a collaborative effort. Too often, treatment  is based on a pathological  or psychological diagnosis. While stress can come from many areas, my style of wellness coaching does not look at the cause of the stress as much as it does the imbalance left in the wake of a stressful event.

I believe that stress is unavoidable.  You are exposed daily to Eustress (positive stress that makes us want to continue doing something) and Distress (things that cause us pain or suffering and make us want to stop doing things). Both have marked and measurable physiological and psychological effects.

Eustress is in short supply in most people’s lives. In our western philosophy of living to work, we often regard Eustress as a “guilty pleasure”. The fact is that indulging in guilty pleasure can change our body chemistry for the better. Mood improves with the releasing of endorphins; blood pressure is reduced; digestion improves; libido often improves and sleep improves.

The cause of distress may be immediate and justifiable, but also it can be caused by an event stirring up past stressful experiences. We are hard-wired to keep an inventory of perceived dangers and respond in a similar way whenever we are “re-exposed" to it, or something that reminds us of a past trauma.  In either instance, the response from our bodies is quite similar: Stress hormones soar, blood pressure goes up, digestion slows and we tend to sleep less.

So, how do you maintain balance in the presence of stress?

If the Distress side of the scale is piled high, consider adding some more to the Eustress side of the scale, i.e. exercise, social outings, yoga, meditation. The trick is to find something healthy that also gives you pleasure. Try something just for fun! The old adage "work hard, play hard" has some merit! Take a chance and try whatever comes to mind.

If the stress is caused by things beyond your control, try focusing on positive things that are in your control. Studies show that it takes at least three positive experiences to overwrite the program of one negative experience. If you don’t find a way to rewrite the response, you will repeat it.

If your stress is physical in nature, there are many herbs and modalities that can help to calm your body down as you are being healed. Ask your preferred practitioner for advice on what they feel is appropriate. Thanks for the question, and I hope this helps!






Topics: stress, wellness coach, emotional wellbeing