Stress Reduction – Part One: Take A Chill Pill!!

zenWe’ve all heard it before. Stress is bad! We need to fight it! But if you’re like most people, it’s not a priority, and you probably don’t know the whole story.

In this four-part series we will learn exactly what stress is, why it’s sometimes bad, and what we can do to protect ourselves from its damaging effects.

The stress response is a built-in, hard wired, survival mechanism that allows us to respond to perceived threats quickly and effectively. It’s the same mechanism that allows animals in nature to escape attack. When our brains perceive a threat, our body automatically responds. Ever pull your hand out of hot water and then feel the pain? It wasn’t the pain that made you pull it out. It was the stress response automatically protecting you.

When our brain senses danger, its starts a neurochemical chain reaction. Adrenaline and other chemicals course through our bodies. Systems that are unnecessary start to slow down, including digestion, reproduction and immune protection. Our heart and breathing rates increase. Our muscles become stronger and more effective. Our senses become more precise allowing us to be more alert. All this so we can either run away from or fight whatever is threatening us.  

In nature, once the animal has escaped, his systems return to normal. But for us, confronted daily with violent and disturbing images in the media, more and more traffic, and a polluted environment, we stay stressed. This is where things go wrong for us. A mechanism that is supposed to keep us alive ends up making us sick.

Take time now to notice the level of stress in your life. Write down at least three things that really make you feel stressed out!

Next time we’ll look more closely at how stress can negatively impact us.

Chris Tickner is a Pasadena psychotherapist, child therapist, and clinical supervisor practicing holistic psychotherapy, where he combines mindfulness psychotherapy,  somatic therapy, neuroscience, and good old fasion humor and compassion to form a a powerful treatment that is transformative and holistic.  There are thousands of California psychotherapists, and finding a counselor or finding a therapist can be daunting. On his website, Chris provides a primer to help you find the therapist that is perfect for you! Chris is also a Pasadena therapist specializing in anxiety psychotherapy and depression psychotherapy.