Are You Stressed?
Dr. Lisa Cowley

Do you find that you are more anxious?

Are you fighting more with your spouse or family member?

Are you suffering from more back pain, increased blood pressure or other health problems?

Guess what? You may be stressed. You are not alone. During the pandemic, many individuals who are normally calm and good managers of stress, have had to deal with an overabundance of issues concerning work, finances and family, that are out of the ordinary. Many individuals do not feel in control of their lives anymore.

Hans Selye, a medical doctor and researcher, studied the effects of stress extensively. He came up with a theory known as general adaptation syndrome. When a stressful event occurs, there is a cascade of physiologic reactions to help the body resolve the situation including the adrenal glands which release cortisol, thereby giving us abilities to attack or flee. This works fine when an actual tiger is chasing us. The only problem is when invisible tigers are lurking around the next corner, giving the body no reprieve.

In other words, after the initial shock of a stressful event, if you replay the event that initially caused fight-or-fight to begin with, by thinking about it or frequently engaging in that stressful situation, then the body stays on high alert.  With enough time, there may be stress-related symptoms expressed, such as heart arrhythmias and high blood pressure, chronic digestive issues, allergies, and even cancer.

Here are some stress release techniques:

1.Be aware- if you are thinking about the stressful event over and over, check in with yourself and direct your energy to the heart. Ask what am I feeling?

2.Be kind with yourself- Once you get in touch with what you are feeling (Example: Frustration) sit with the feeling and don’t run away from it. Journal write, sit in stillness, cry, or call a trusted friend to process what you are feeling.

3.Be active- After identifying what you are feeling and processing it, next move your body in whatever way feels good to release the buildup of residual cortisol by dancing, yoga, or walking in the woods.

In summary, paying attention to how you are responding to your environment and implementing techniques to quiet the mind and then dissipating the physiological effects are all  vital if you want to experience a more stress free life.

Dr. Lisa Cowley, a holistic chiropractor and nutritional counselor of 25 years, along with her husband, Victor Westgate, a high school educator of 34 years, are authors of Pack Lightly: Making Sense of the Second Half of Your Life.


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