Surmounting Stress

Surmouning stress in today’s world can seem impossible. Dr. Sheehan weighs in on his own view of stress and what we can do to master our stress and live more relaxed and productive lives.

So what exactly is stress?  Where does it come from?  What effects does it have on my body, and my soul?  What can I do about it?  To answer all of these, and more, we must first talk about the three types of stress, so we can adequately determine what type(s) we have, and then we can determine what to do about them.

Let me start off by saying that there are lots of different ways of dealing with stress, this is not the only way.

Let us start by splitting stress into 3 different categories:

  1. Physical stress-this is stress you feel in your body, and comes from nutritional deficiencies, and incorrect eating habits for you. This is the one that we will primarily deal with tonight.  Physical stress will make the other stresses less manageable.  Your body sees stress in an additive way, in other words, it all adds up. If you have 10 units of physical stress, 4 units of mental stress, and 3 units of Spiritual Stress, you have an overall stress index of 17.
  2. Mental stress-this is stress you usually feel in your head, although it can be felt anywhere in your body, and comes from someone or something either stopping you from doing something, or forcing you to do something you do not really want to do (but usually feel that you have to).
  3. Spiritual stress-this comes from not doing something you know you really should do, or doing something you shouldn’t be doing. It’s more self-imposed than mental stress.

Just knowing the three types of stress makes most people feel better already.  It also makes dealing with stress less of a Herculean task.

So how do we deal with stress?  In a nutshell, here’s the way to deal with the three different types of stress:

  1. Physical stress-We use Nutrition Response Testing to deal with this. In a nutshell, cut down on sugar and carbs, up the protein and fats to balance blood sugar, and stress hormones.  Address nutritional deficiencies in the body, especially those affecting the heart, liver, adrenal glands, brain, minerals, and hormones in the body.  Also make sure that there in not a neurotransmitter imbalance that can be helped by organ support, herbal and amino acid supplementation.
  2. Mental and Spiritual Stress-there is a fair amount of overlap of these two, so it’s better if we lump them together. Make a list of all the things you want to do in your life.  Really do this, write it down.  Are you doing them?  Answer that question first.  If you are not doing them, why not?  If the answer is a person or a thing that is keeping you from what you are doing, that is a mental stress.
  3. Is there anything you should be doing, but are not? Make a list, like you did in #2.  Like are you smoking, and know that you shouldn’t?  How about overeating?  How about exercise?  How about meditating?  The list can go on and on.  Bringing awareness to this subject though, is often quite illuminating, and often helps us.  You get the idea.
  4. Another thing get stressed about a lot, and this can cause spiritual and mental stress, is repetitive thoughts they have, which are stressful. A friend I know who was very into stress reduction decided one day to write down his thoughts all day.  To his amazement, he wrote the same four things, over and over all day!  Our minds are perpetual motion machines, and when they have nothing to do, they just keep working, working, working, and it’s not usually something nice and positive they work on.  As a quick exercise, if everyone could hear your thoughts, would you be embarrassed, scared, or very proud of your evolved mind?  You get the idea.

So to deal with these stressful thoughts, I often turn to “The Work” by Byron Katie. If you don’t know who she is, look her up on YouTube, or better yet, buy one of her books, such as “Loving What Is”.  You can also look up her website.  She gives very clear instructions on how to do The Work.  Oftentimes, doing The Work, will help illuminate the answers to the three types of stress I have listed above.  I did The Work along with a facilitator for 4 years following an extremely stressful event in my life.  I can’t say enough good about it.  If I feel stressed, or can’t sleep (I’m a chronic insomniac, although it’s 85% better), I do The Work, and I totally chill out.  Just ask my wife.

From the above, it should be obvious to you that it’s easier to deal with some stress than others.  Here’s the trick to the whole thing though, that most people don’t know.  You’re body and mind add together all stress, and count it as one number.  You can also deal with it in the same way.  Sometimes it’s hard to deal with the mental and spiritual stress, but relatively easy to deal with the physical stresses.  In this case, deal with the physical stresses, which will bring down your overall stress load, and make you feel a lot better.  Then you’ll naturally deal with the mental and spiritual stresses easier:  it won’t feel as overwhelming to you.  In fact, that’s why we deal with primarily physical stress in our clinic, it makes it easier to deal with mental and spiritual stresses.

Photo Credit: Scott Koring

Simple Steps for Self-Care

Taking Care of Yourself Can Be a BreezeI have been studying the principles of Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine and they contain some very elegant and easy tips to bring balance to your life. Personally, I have been tapping into my inner type “A” recently (and seriously, what’s with all the type A bashing? I’ve learned from experience it’s best to face what must be done in life head-on; it definitely saves one from future problems and helps one to build and create one’s own life and happiness). Vital aspects of my type A lifestyle include: taking my supplements–they help me feel and perform my best, when my life demands that I be “on” much of the time; eating clean–keeps me feeling light and flexible, so that my food does not end up being an obstacle to reaching my goals in life; exercising regularly – for the same reasons I just mentioned.

A life full of activity requires some mindful rest. Here is where I have learned much from the principles of acupuncture. Mindful rest is not merely zoning out or indulging in escape behaviors. From experience I know distraction or escape behaviors cause stress to build up. Even though it may be just out of conscious awareness, a feeling of unease creeps up, and pressure builds from suppressed and repressed emotions, which then tends to be projected outward onto others (who in general do not deserve it) or expressed in other inappropriate ways. So by mindful rest I mean when you are consciously engaging in an activity to renew. Mindful rest activities include: prayer, surrender, meditation, getting a massage, playing with your dog, spending quality time with your loved ones, reading an interesting book or otherwise feeding the mind, listening to uplifting music, spending time in nature or making yourself a healing tea.

If it seems like I am biased toward the principles of acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine, I am. Now that I am supporting my body’s healing process through Nutrition Response Testing, I feel that Dr. Sheehan and I can begin to benefit from some of the more subtle effects of the acupressure and acupuncture. An now, with an acupuncturist on staff, Guinevere, we are ready to take our healing process to the next level. The journey of healing of self and others is such an exciting and scintillating journey!

I made just such a tea this morning. It was one extra simple step at breakfast time. Here is the recipe:

1 small piece of fresh ginger, sliced

Peel from 1/3 of a large lemon, cut up into large pieces

3 sticks of cinnamon

1 quart of water

I simmered this until the water was reduced by 1/3, about an hour. It make the entire second floor smell heavenly!

So, to recap, here are the simple steps for self-care: take your supplements, eat clean in general, exercise, and engage in mindfully restful activities. You can start now by making this delicious tea 🙂

Here is my beginning-of-the week diet log. So I have been on my good behavior for the last couple of days.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Breakfast: 2 chicken sausages, almonds, coffee with butter and coconut oil

Lunch: Turkey Chili (from California Tortilla, they make a mean chili), spinach

Afternoon Snack: CC Meal Bar

Dinner: piece of salmon, avocado, and baby carrots

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Breakfast: a piece of salmon, avocado, almonds, coffee with butter and coconut oil

Lunch: Leftover chili, purslane from the yard mixed in, avocado

Afternoon Snack: celery and peanut butter

Dinner: 3 organic hot dogs with spinach, baby carrots, blue cheese dressing, and mustard

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Breakfast: salmon, avocado, almonds, coffee with coconut oil

After breakfast: delicious cinnamon-lemon peel-ginger tea

Lunch: 1 burger, sauteed beet greens, 1 hot dog, mustard, black coffee

Afternoon snack: we’ll see

Dinner: I am planning on going to DipCo and getting a dozen wings, a Greek salad, and a beer.