Stress Management: Understanding the Basics

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Arguments, upsets, deadlines, projects, working long hours sitting at a computer, sales targets, angry and demanding bosses, petty and gossiping work colleagues, family responsibilities, financial struggles, pressure to keep up with your neighbors, taxes, credit card bills, no time to exercise, no time to relax, no time to catch up on your sleep, no time to spend with your family – there’s just not enough time to get everything done in the world we live in.

Just writing this (and thinking about all these things) alone, is causing me stress. Stress is everywhere; it may feel like it takes all of your effort just to keep your head above water and get through the day. And stress affects everyone. Today, I want to start a discussion on how mental stress can affect your health and life. We hear this almost every day in our offices: “I’m very stressed!” Singapore can be an extremely stressful place, and many people feel that they are being pulled in a thousand directions at once by their competing pressures and obligations.

We have to recognize that stress is a real health issue, that will lead to real consequences in your life.

Thoughts are Powerful

Here’s a brief thought exercise:

Imagine that you are holding a fresh, ripe, unpeeled lemon in your hands. Really picture the lemon in vivid colors and clear textures.

You now take a sharp knife and cut a small wedge out of that lemon.

As you cut the lemon, you can smell the zest and the citrus aroma of the lemon radiate into the air and through your nostrils.

You then slowly bring that lemon wedge towards your mouth and gently take a bite out of the wedge.

Allow the juice to dance on your tongue and slowly flow down your throat as you swallow the bitter liquid.

What are you experiencing right now? Many people can almost taste the lemon.

Possibly your salivary glands in your mouth are producing more watery saliva. Maybe you are experiencing the uncomfortable bitterness of the lemon, and you are squinting a bit or your brow is becoming furrowed. Your eyes may be watering.

Well, what is the point of this little exercise? Did you have a real life lemon in your hand? Did you bite into a real lemon wedge? Of course not.

Related Blog: How is Stress Affecting Your Spine?

Your body was responding to a thought, an imagined picture in your mind of a lemon.

This mental image had a real, concrete, measurable impact on the function of your body—your physiology. This thought had a major impact in your real tangible world. You feel what you focus on, and your feelings have a significant impact on your health.

Stress is a real health issue, that will lead to real consequences in your life.

Thoughts are powerful things.

Fundamentally, mental stress is a consequence of your thinking. Your interpretation of that thought is what creates the negative feelings associated with the mental stress.

You feel what you focus on, and your feelings have a significant impact on your health.

Something happens; you think about the occurrence, and you interpret your experience by assigning meaning to the situation. It all starts with a thought.

For example, you may be sitting at your work desk and see that your boss has an angry, stressed out look on her face — maybe she’s raising her voice at someone on the phone. You see this and then you mentally interpret your boss’ facial expression, speaking volume, and body language as her being in a bad mood and being ready to lash out at someone.

Because of what you are observing, you get stressed and anxious because you are worried that you may get yelled at for some reason. You feel like you have to walk on egg shells until your boss is in a better mood. Clearly, this is not a fun experience. The negative feelings of stress, fear, and anxiety are not caused by your boss’ demeanor and actions directly; the anxiety is caused by your interpretation of what you are seeing in your boss. It is fundamentally a thought that you allow to expand in intensity and emotion. It is not the stimulus that is the problem; it is the meaning YOU ascribe to the stimulus.

Conversely, another person may experience the exact same situation and instead of getting stressed and anxious, they may feel sorry for their boss or concerned for the wellbeing of their boss. Maybe this motivates them to buy their boss a cupcake or to see if they can help in some way. Bosses are people too. But the interpretation was different, and did not result in stress.

I’m not trying to diminish your experience of stress or blame you for the negative emotions that you are faced with in your life. We all feel stressed and frustration at times. In fact, I am trying to illustrate that stress, although derived from a mental experience, is a real life phenomena. Thoughts are real because we make them real in our physiology, and this can significantly affect our level of vitality.

“Thoughts are real because we make them real in our physiology, and this can significantly affect our level of vitality.”

Stress leads to concrete and measurable real adverse health outcomes — especially if we are continually subjected to stress.

Now we know and we recognized that stress can cause real health problems, click here to read more on what exactly happened when you’re stress and how does it affect your health.

Related Blog: How is Stress Affecting Your Spine? 

Schedule a Spinal Checkup

If you are experiencing pain in any form due to stress, or simply concerned about your health and wellbeing, or if you are curious to learn more about how chiropractic can help you feel better and function better, schedule a no-obligation spinal checkup.

The road to optimal health and vitality all starts with a checkup.

Click here to learn more about the chiropractic spinal checkup.

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