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How to Stay Stress Free in a Stressed Out World

How to Stay Stress Free in a Stressed Out World

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Published by Jed Diamond
“Are you feeling overwhelmed by 24-hour cable and Internet news, with vivid pictures, highlighting the dreadful effects of the massive earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdown in Japan?” ask stress experts Rosemary Lichtman, Ph.D. and Phyllis Goldberg, Ph.D. “These horrors have pushed the world's psyche into overload, causing increased levels of anxiety. If you're feeling vulnerable, you're not alone.”

“Are you feeling overwhelmed by 24-hour cable and Internet news, with vivid pictures, highlighting the dreadful effects of the massive earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdown in Japan?” ask stress experts Rosemary Lichtman, Ph.D. and Phyllis Goldberg, Ph.D. “These horrors have pushed the world's psyche into overload, causing increased levels of anxiety. If you're feeling vulnerable, you're not alone.”

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Published by: Jed Diamond on Mar 16, 2011
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How to Stay Stress-Free in a Stressed-Out World

Jed Diamond, Ph.D. has been a health-care professional for the last 45 years. He is the author of 9 books, including Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places, Male Menopause, The Irritable Male Syndrome, and Mr. Mean: Saving Your Relationship from the Irritable Male Syndrome . He offers counseling to men, women, and couples in his office in California or by phone with people throughout the U.S. and around the world. To receive a Free E-book on Men’s Health and a free subscription to Jed’s e-newsletter go to http://facebook.com/menalivenow. If you enjoy my articles, please subscribe. I write to everyone who joins my Scribd team. “Are you feeling overwhelmed by 24-hour cable and Internet news, with vivid pictures, highlighting the dreadful effects of the massive earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdown in Japan?” ask stress experts Rosemary Lichtman, Ph.D. and Phyllis Goldberg, Ph.D. “These horrors have pushed the world's psyche into overload, causing increased levels of anxiety. If you're feeling vulnerable, you're not alone.” We all have experienced the stress response, the changes in our bodies, minds, and spirits that prepare us for “fight or flight.” This response worked wonderfully for most of human history. When a lion came charging into our camp our eyes would widen, our heart-rate would increase, our guts would shut down (We don’t need to worry about eating when a lion is in camp. We have to worry about being eaten) and we’d run for hills or fight to the death. But we’re not prepared to deal with the kinds of stress we are experiencing every day in the modern world. We’re Stuck in a World of Perpetual Stress For most of human history the stressors we faced were physical, but now they are psychological. When was the last time you were frightened by a lion? The things that cause us stress in our modern world are the ones that go on inside

our heads. Unlike many people in Japan, most of us are not dealing with having our houses destroyed by an earthquake and tsunami, being cold and hungry, dealing with health risks of radiation. But we are terrified that something unexpected could happen and we worry ourselves to death thinking about all the “what ifs.” Our bodies can’t distinguish between the stress response generated by a raging lion or that of a road-raging motorist. It can’t even tell the difference between a possible physical threat and one that is triggered in our own minds. The neurotransmitters and hormones pour into our systems constantly. But we don’t run. We don’t fight. We don’t do anything, but stew in our own juices. Here’s how Richard O’Connor, Ph.D., describes our situation in his book Undoing Perpetual Stress: The Missing Connection Between Depression, Anxiety, and 21st Century Illness: We have to live with the fact that our nervous systems have not changed much for 160,000 years, since the first modern human appeared. We’re not wired for the kinds of stress we face today. There is an essential conflict between what our bodies and brains were naturally designed for and what life makes us put up with now: • • The breakdown of the family and community. The lack of meaningful work, of contact with nature, of natural sleep, physical intimacy, exercise. • The intrusion of ambiguous dangers like traffic jams, cell phones, mortgages, commercials, HMOs.

We can’t run fast to escape these problems, or call on friends and pick up big sticks to beat them to death—but that’s what our bodies were designed for. Under chronic stress, our neurotransmitters, hormones, and other “information substances”—basic constituents of our animal selves—go haywire, affecting our immune, nervous, and endocrine systems and causing emotional distress and physical illness. We develop the Perpetual Stress Response. Here’s a thought experiment to illustrate our modern dilemma. Imagine the scene I pictured above with a lion rushing into the camp. But this time, the lion is on a long chain and can’t reach anyone to hurt them. You and your family are also on a long chain so you can’t get close enough to fight the lion or to run away. You’re really in no danger of being eaten, but you don’t know it. Your body prepares you for action, but you are constrained by your chain. This is the situation that we find ourselves in. We are continually bombarded by modern stressors.

Here’s What You Need To Do 1. Limit the amount of stressful stimuli you let in. When a lion rushes into camp, we take in the threat in about 3 seconds. Once we get the message we act. Watching T.V. over and over to see the scenes of destruction is actually a form of mental torture. Don’t do it. 2. When you are under stress you must move. We are built to deal with stress through physical activity. When the rush of chemicals floods our bodies to prepare us for fight or flight we get moving. If stress is increasing in your life, you need to do more aerobic activities, such as running, brisk walking or swimming. 3. Tend and befriend. We are also built to deal with stress with others. We reach out to help those in need and we join together with others for protection. Don’t deal with stress alone. Reach out and touch someone. Bottom Line Stress Reliever: Turn off your T.V. (and your other stressful media) and go for a walk with your family, friends, and neighbors. The Best Exercise: Walking. The overall best exercise that can fulfill the body's need for regular aerobic activity, if you do it vigorously enough, is walking. It is an excellent form of exercise because it requires no equipment,

everyone knows how to do it, and it carries the lowest risk of injury. Courtesy of Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging “Above all, do not lose your desire to walk. Every day I walk myself into a state of well-being and walk away from every illness. I have walked myself into my best thoughts, and I know of no thought so burdensome that one cannot walk away from it.” - Soren Kierkegaard “Walking is the great adventure, the first meditation, a practice of heartiness and soul primary to humankind. Walking is the exact balance between spirit and humility.” - Gary Snyder

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