Well now, here is a serious letter I took from the box down at the road this past week. It comes from Kevin T. in Madison, Wisconsin. I think you will see why this week’s blog will be a little more serious.
Kevin writes: “I noticed on your web page that you are a physical therapist. I also found on the web somewhere that you know a few things about managing stress. So here’s my question. What can I do everyday to manage my stress? It seems some days there are not enough hours and I get pretty tense. I can’t help but wonder about your character in The Shade Tree Choir whose name was Krame. I’ll bet he had a lot of stress! By the way, I bought your book and could not put it down!
Great question, Kevin T. Yes, I did write a book about managing stress and for several years I travelled the Southeast United States helping people with my seminars. If Trixie were here right now she would tell you to do as I say not as I do. We all have stress in our lives. It is how we manage those stressors that make the difference.
There are the daily stressors from life in general. There are the major lifestyle changes like a birth, a death, or even a new job. Then there are the inside stressors involving deep personal issues that are the most difficult to control. These might include self-esteem, loss of happiness, depression, etc.
Regardless of which type of stress is most dominant, there are certain physiological changes that happen when we are in a state of tension or stress. It is called the ‘flight or fight’ response that is automatic and dates back to our ancestors who lived in caves.
Some reactions include a shutdown of the digestive system, increased heart rate, increased respiration, increased muscle tension, or tightness. Other responses will be an increased output of sugar, drop in white blood cell count, and dilation of pupils. All of these are needed to either ‘fight’ or ‘flight’.
When we stay in this state long enough, the body ‘thinks’ this is what is normal. As a result certain diseases are related to stress. These include Type II Diabetes, high blood pressure, arthritis, and bowel irritation, prone to certain infections, heart disease, and circulatory problems.
You mentioned the character Krame in The Shade Tree Choir. The physical and mental abuse he experienced no doubt would have led him to a constant state of lifetime stress and disease. This became a learned response for physical and emotional survival. Many negative coping skills would be present in children who are abused. Literature reports the reactions in children are similar to POWs who were tortured. Years of childhood abuse can lead to PTSD, common in many war veterans.
They learn not to trust, they can be perfectionists, there is difficulty sleeping, they may abuse drugs or alcohol, and many will have a need for chaos in their lives. They tend to withdraw, experience high anxiety and are either clinically depressed, bi-polar, or even more severe psychiatric conditions.
Managing stress is a selfish program. I tell folks they need to care for themselves first before anyone else. Saying “No” is a great management tool. Here are some other techniques you could try:
· Find thirty minutes of time alone each day
· Practice Deep Breathing techniques
· The mind is most receptive immediately upon waking each morning. Take five minutes to lie in bed and picture you in a state of calm.
· Use a Treasure Map for long term success
· Try to get one good ‘belly laugh’ each day. Watch a comedy for laughter.
· Do something each day that is positive for a stranger. Do not tell anyone else. Keep it to yourself.
· Physical exercise will burn off many components of stress
· Use alcohol in moderation
If you want to chat about this more you can find me on all social media networks. Just ask and I will answer. Good luck to you, Kevin T. and everyone else.
Last week’s Trivia Answer: Which State in the United States was the first to have cows, hogs, and horses. Deb N. from Dubuque, Iowa was the first to guess correctly. It was FLORIDA.
New Trivia Question: There is a part of our body that has two halves. Only one half works four hours at a time while the other is quiet. Name the body part.