5 Ways To Never Be Stressed Again.

Via on Aug 24, 2013

stress2

Everybody feels stress and knows it intimately, but very few of us think about what stress actually is.

Stress is a thought. That’s it. No more, no less. If that’s true, then we have complete control over stress, because it’s not something that happens to us but something that happens in us.

The dictionary definition of stress is, “bodily or mental tension resulting from factors that tend to alter an existent equilibrium.” It is your thoughts out of balance.

The medical definition of stress is, “the perception of a real or imagined threat to your body or your ego.” It could be a tiger chasing you or your belief that your spouse is mad at you (even if he or she is not).

Whether it is real or imagined, when you perceive something as stressful, it creates the same response in the body.

A cascade of adrenaline, cortisol, and other stress hormones floods your system, raising your heart rate, increasing your blood pressure, making your blood more likely to clot, damaging your brain’s memory center, increasing belly fat storage, and generally wreaking havoc on your body.

The operative word here about stress is that it is a perception, also known as a thought or point of view. There are objective stressors, to be sure—war, death of loved ones, financial troubles, starvation, dental work.

But how these affect us determines our body’s stress response. Imagine Woody Allen and James Bond, each with a gun pointed at his head—same external stressor but entirely different responses.

When I was very sick with chronic fatigue, barely able to work, a single father with two kids, thinking I had to go on disability, I worried constantly. I couldn’t sleep and everything seemed stressful.

Then, a wise man told me I had to stop worrying. I argued with him strenuously, providing a comprehensive list of all the real external events that were stressful to me.

He just kept repeating that worrying was toxic; he said, what really mattered was how I viewed the situation, and he kept telling me I just needed to stop worrying.

And slowly, very slowly, I trained myself to watch my thoughts, my perceptions and when a stressful thought came into my head, I stopped, took a deep breath, and just let go. It’s like a muscle—it gets stronger the more you use it, but if you let go, it relaxes.

But of course, life takes over and things happen, all the “D’s:” divorce, death, deadlines, demands, dumb thoughts, and dumb schedules. And as anyone does, I get sucked in to negative thinking, which creates stress in my body.

My sleep gets interrupted, my muscles get tight, my mood gets cranky, but then I breathe and remember that stress is all in my head.  We get so attached to our way of thinking, to our beliefs and attitudes about the way things should be or shouldn’t be, that it makes us sick.

This doesn’t mean that I don’t respond to injustice or experience intense feelings of joy, happiness, sadness, loss or pain. I do. But I try just to be fully in them when they come, then experience the next moment, then the next and the next, and just show up with my whole self with love and attention.

That’s the only thing I can do.

Most people, when they look at my life, think I’m crazy and wonder why I’m not more stressed—running a medical practice; writing books and blogs; teaching all over the world; working on health policy; volunteering in Haiti, churches, and orphanages; being a father, son, brother, partner, friend, boss, and more. But it’s actually quite simple.

I don’t worry about things much; I simply wake up and do the next thing as best I can.

And when things get out of control, which they do, I simply make a gentle U-turn. It’s like a GPS for my soul. Your GPS doesn’t yell at you and call you stupid or judge you for taking a wrong turn. In the sweetest voice imaginable, the GPS reminds you to take the next possible U-turn.

Each of us has to find out how to make our own U-turn. There are some wonderful ways I have discovered that work very well for me!

Here’s how I make my U-turns (and I try to pick one or more each day):

1. Move.

The best way to burn off the stress hormones without having to change your thinking is to move and sweat. Run, dance, jump, ride, swim, stretch, or skip—do something vigorous and lively. Yoga is also fabulous, as it combines movement and breathing.

2. Breathe. 

Most of us hold our breath often or breathe swallow, anxious breaths. Deep, slow, full breaths have a profound affect on resetting the stress response, because the relaxation nerve (or vagus nerve and not the Las Vegas nerve) goes through your diaphragm and is activated with every deep breath. Take five deep breaths now, and observe how differently you feel after.

3. Bathe.

For the lazy among us (including me), an UltraBath is a secret weapon against stress. Add two cups of Epsom salts (which contains magnesium, the relaxation mineral), a half-cup of baking soda, and 10 drops of lavender oil (which lowers cortisol) to a very hot bath. Then, add one stressed human and soak for 20 minutes. Guaranteed to induce relaxation.

4. Sleep. 

Lack of sleep increases stress hormones. Get your eight hours no matter what. Take a nap if you missed your sleep. Prioritize sleep.

5. Think Differently. 

Practice the art of noticing stress, noticing how your thinking makes you stressed. Practice taking deep breaths and letting go of worry. Try Byron Katie’s four questions to break the cycle of “stinkin’ thinkin’” that keeps you stressed.

Also, I highly recommend tapping, a technique that combines ancient Chinese acupressure and modern psychology.

Enjoy and happy U-turns!

 

 Like elephant health & wellness on Facebook.

 

Ed: Bryonie Wise

About Mark Hyman

Mark Hyman, M.D. believes that every individual deserves a life of vitality—and that they have the potential to create it for themselves. That’s why he is dedicated to tackling the root causes of chronic disease by harnessing the power of Functional Medicine to transform healthcare. Dr. Mark and his team work every day to empower people, organizations and communities to heal their bodies and minds, and improve our social and economic resilience.

Dr. Mark is a practicing family physician, a six-time #1 New York Times bestselling author and an internationally recognized leader, speaker, educator and advocate in his field. He is also the founder and medical director of The UltraWellness Center, chairman of the board of the Institute for Functional Medicine, a medical editor of The Huffington Post and a regular medical contributor on Katie Couric’s TV show, Katie.

To achieve his mission of transforming healthcare, Dr. Mark works with individuals and organizations, as well as policy makers and influencers. He has testified before both the White House Commission on Complementary and Alternative Medicine and before the Senate Working Group on Health Care Reform on Functional Medicine. He has consulted with the Surgeon General on diabetes prevention, and participated in the 2009 White House Forum on Prevention and Wellness. Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa also nominated Dr. Mark for the President’s Advisory Group on Prevention, Health Promotion and Integrative and Public Health. In addition, he has worked with President Clinton, presenting at the Clinton Foundation’s Health Matters, Achieving Wellness in Every Generation conference, as well as the Clinton Global Initiative.

Dr. Mark also works with fellow leaders in his field to help people and communities thrive—he co-created The Daniel Plan with Rick Warren, Dr. Mehmet Oz and Dr. Daniel Amen, a faith-based initiative that helped The Saddleback Church collectively lose 250,000 pounds. He has appeared as an advisor on The Dr. Oz Show, and is also on the Board of Dr. Oz’s HealthCorps, which tackles the obesity epidemic by educating the American student body about nutrition. With Drs. Dean Ornish and Michael Roizen, Dr. Mark crafted and helped introduce the Take Back Your Health Act of 2009 to the United States Senate to provide for reimbursement of lifestyle treatment of chronic disease.

Join Dr. Mark on his path to revolutionize the way we think about and take care of our health and our societies by following along and chiming in online through his website, on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @markhymanmd.

15,569 views

If you liked this, you might like these:

4 Responses to “5 Ways To Never Be Stressed Again.”

  1. AJLJ says:

    Years ago I had a coworker who regularly went off to the small conference room to nap for an hour or two during the day. I thought it was so strange … until I started a new job recently and have the luxury of working at home (and napping when I really need it). My lesson: Why am I punishing myself for not sleeping, by continuing not to sleep? This life is already unnatural enough, with our office hours and lack of movement. I'm taking my sleep back.

  2. Ava says:

    Thank you….just what I needed to read.

  3. Michele says:

    Thank-you for writing this :)

  4. CAL says:

    Ahhhhh, simply READING this invoked the relaxation response. Namaste & a 3 breath HUG!!

Leave a Reply