"Stress is a profound and pernicious physiological reaction
that not only keeps your body from functioning at its best,
it can make you sick. It can even kill you."
Half way into our journey overcoming mid-life concerns,
there are two very important factors that you must learn
to train if you wish to pursue your journey instigating
No matter your concerns, these two elements:
stress and negative thoughts - will inevitably appear in
your life at one time or another, and like a wild horse,
if you don’t train them, in most extreme case, you can
picture yourself landing as deep as six feet underground!
I’m not kidding my friend! I don’t want to be mellow-
dramatic, but I am putting the cards on the table. Stress
can kill and so are your negative thoughts!
During this challenging period of life, many mid-lifers
nourrish thoughts of discouragement that could lead them
as far as discouragement and suicide. People also die of
heart attacks! I invite you to read the statistics in my
suicide prevention encounter. You will discover that
suicide statistics are very high reaching mid-life. You
haven’t seen them, well click on this link:
This is a subject of real concern in mid-life. In this
constant changing living and working environment, all
generations are affected and much more so reaching
mid-life crisis. Education about stress management becomes
a vital need: we must learn to instigate balance in our
everyday stressing environment.
Let us journey further as I we learn the meaning of
stress, its biological triggers and their impact on
You will learn some strategies to help you overcome
stress. But before we do so, here’s a little exercise
for you to do:
Take a pen and a piece of paper and identify three major
stress issues in your life at the present time.
Are they health related issues?
personal or interpersonal relationship issues?
financial or work related concerns?
a form of loss?
If you have more than three, you’re more than welcome to
write them all.
How do you approach these concerns?
Are you struggling to make ends meet?
You journey through carrying your issues like a heavy
bolt chained to your ankle?
Is all this stress having a toll on your physical
and mental sanity?
Is your source of stress interfering in your
relationship with loved-ones?
Are you trying to instigate purpose into your life
but you feel overwhelmed with inner-emptiness?
Finally, do you sense a positive feeling about your
The answers to these questions will give some idea of
your level of stress and the impacting effect it's having
on your life at the present time.
WHAT IS STRESS?
Is it having a really bad day? Having too much to do? Dealing
with a difficult person or situation?
Each of us experience stressors (situations considered
stress-provoking), whether minor hassles (events that occur
routinely), moderate life events or extreme traumas. How well
do you cope(in other words how do you stop the stress
What are your skills of resilience (your level of
resistance to stress) and resources?
What as been your experience overcoming struggles?
Write your answers in a daily journal.
"Stress is what we experience when we start feeling like
the demands life is placing on us become greater than our
resources for coping with them."
According to Hans Selye,
"the ability to manage stress is developed and premised
on the idea that stress is not a direct response to
a stressor but rather one’s resources and ability to
cope mediate the stress response… allowing stress to
Stress can help us get things done. Picture our athletes
working out to win a gold metal. Picture, for example artist
Nana Mouskouri’s level of stress in fifty years of singing
career in order to earn 350 gold, platinum records,(not to
mention honours) recording more than 1500 songs in more than
10 languages, studying seven languages, having sold close to
400 million records world wide…giving more than 100 yearly
concerts world-wide. (not to mention galas, her contribution
as an international goodwill ambassador and 5 years in
How did she manage - without ever having taken more than
one periodical time off?
Her answer to this question:
passion for singing,
her love for music
the love she received from her fans and audiences.
This form of stress is called eustress in opposition
I intentionally chose her example to illustrate how her
positive attitude and a purpose in life can move
mountains and how she's my inspiration when I feel down
and in the dumps!
Stress can help us get things done, but there must be
balance. Balance is the key word,here. Too much stress can
have a devastating outcome on your physical and mental
According to Dr. Kenford Nedd, M.D. the stress is the
response to your trigger of concern in your environment.
From his book: Power over Stress, I quote:
"It is not as much what’s happening, but the
way you perceive the situation – the physical,
emotional or behavioural responses that you make
based on that perception that is the problem.
Your negative perception of any problem will work
against you when you decide you are helpless
WHAT HAPPENS TO YOUR BRAIN AND YOUR BODY WHEN
YOU HAVE TO FACE A STRESSFUL SITUATION?
The nervous system is divided into two parts:
A)Central nervous system:
the spinal chord.
B)The peripheral nervous system.
The peripheral nervous system is divided into two parts:
Automatic nervous system – transmits information
back and forth to your central nervous system.
Somatic nervous system - controls our internal
The Automatic nervous system is composed of two parts:
The sympathetic nervous system:
His function consists of activating the survival
responses to perceived threats. It increases:
your heart rate,
regulates the size of your blood vessels,
and prepares your body for action.(red alert) All
your energy is focused on responding to what is
happening. (fight or flight)
The parasympathetic system helps you to relax.
It slows down your heart rate, dilates the blood
vessels that takes nourishment to your vital
organs, processes digestion while it conserves energy.
The system cleanses and nourishes your body to
strengthen and support you.
All tensed up!
When the body goes into stress reaction mode, the
motor area of the brain activates 680 muscles.
For this reason you will sense physical tension:
in your shoulder,
your lower back,
You will sense:
The limbic system is the emotional centre
of the brain. Stress will activate feelings such as
fear,anger,frustrations, guilt, depression and self-doubt.
It is important not to take those emotions for granted nor
on the other end, become a prisoner.
Be in charge; learn to choose what is positive. Question
your emotions: Where did this come from? Am I overtired?
Is there something else bothering me?
The stress hormones gives a surge of energy and tightens
The adrenaline raises the level of cholesterol in your blood,
reduces the diameter of the blood vessels in your heart, your
brain, your kidneys and can do some damage to the inside of
the blood vessels. Plaques are formed (deposits on the walls
of blood vessels)risking closing the vessels all together.
The blood cells become sticky, clumps together on the plaques
obstructing the blood vessels(blockage) results in heart
attacks but if the blockage is in the brain the result is a
In a stress reaction, cortisol is secreted in your blood
stream causing your body’s immune system to slow down.
Irritable bowel diseases,
viruses and bacterias,
abnormal cells and tumors.
HOW DOES YOU BRAIN REACT TO STRESS?
The hypothalamus is the master control organ in your brain.
It dispatches a message to the pituitary gland(that also
controls other glands in the body) The hypothalamus secretes
the adrenaline and the cortisol hormones into your system -
causing a stress reaction:
Irregular shallow breathing
Increased stimulation of sympathetic nervous system
Loss of physiological balance
The body either gears into fighting or fearing mode.
From the Wikipedia Website,I quote
this enumeration of stress signs – maybe identical to your
own signs of stress in orderto enlighten you on the influence
your stress may have on your physical and mental health:
"Signs of stress may be cognitive, emotional, physical
or behavioural and include (but are not limited to)
symptoms such as:
feeling overwhelmed, feeling lonely or isolated,depressed,
aches and pains, diarrhea or constipation,nausea,dizziness,
chest pain,rapid heartbeat, eating too much or not enough,
sleeping too much or not enough, withdrawing from others,
procrastinating or neglecting responsibilities,
using alcohol, cigarettes,or drugs to relax,
nervous habits (e.g. nail biting, pacing)."
Through laboratory research, Hans Selye, an endocrinologist (hormone disorders specialist) – elaborated this theory called
general adaption syndrome(GAS)
According to Selye, there are three stage levels of stress
reactions and their related impact on the mental and physical
health of an individual. He identifies them as:
The Alarm Stage
The Stage of Resistance
The Stage of Exhaustion
The Alarm stage
The threat or stressor is identified or realized; the
body's stress response is a state of alarm. (red light)
During this stage adrenaline will be produced in order
to bring about the fight-or-flight response.
The Resistance stage
The stressor persists and it becomes necessary to attempt
some means of coping with the stress. Although the
body begins to try to adapt to the strains or demands of
the environment, the body cannot keep this up
indefinitely, so its resources are gradually depleted.
The Exhaustion stage
At this point, all of the body's resources are
eventually depleted and the body is unable to maintain
normal function. Symptoms such as sweating, raised heart
rate etc may appear. If this stage is extended, long
term damage may be the result: the adrenal gland and
the immune system is exhausted and their function is
impaired as well as the development of illnesses such
as ulcers, depression, diabetes, trouble with the
digestive system or even cardiovascular problems, not
to mention mental illnesses.
‘’Stressors are situations that are considered tension provoking’’.
Life carries its toll of concerns. Whether they are every
day life hassles, life events or traumas, our
attitude towards these events determines if our
physical and emotional responses will either have a
positive or negative impact on your personal welfare.
Let’s look over some stressors that could kick us into
the emergency mode and discover how they impact our
daily life. If you recognize any of your own stressors
I invite you to ask yourself the following questions:
What can I control in this situation?
Is there anything I cannot change in this situation?
Can I keep the unpleasant uncomfortable physical
sensations from controlling my life? (anxiety,
heart palpitations, agitation…)
Can I develop a "let’s wait and see" attitude rather
A. Handling Anger
The following stress triggers elaborated in this
encounter have been presented by Dr. Sharon Faelten and
David Diamond in their book: Take Control of
Your Life – A Complete Guide to Stress Relief.
I recommend this book If you recognize any of these
triggers to be your own and would like more information
as to how you can overcome your stressors.
Is anger a stressor in your life?
Are you constantly yelling?
You’re angry but cannot be assertive about it?
When you’re angry:
You don’t necessary think about what you’re doing
You don’t lash out at someone
You don’t sit and stew.
The way you express your anger is something you’ve learned (it’s not natural) therefore you can learn to cope in new ways.
Tips to handle your anger:
Learn relaxation techniques
Keep a daily journal to help you track the triggers
Acknowledge when you are creating the anger
Rate people’s behaviour rather than evaluating them as
Talk to a friend about it
Try to understand the circumstances provoking the anger
Avoid people who make you angry
Anticipate that they may make you angry
Develop alternative ways of coping:
Take a deep breath, count to 10…
"Guilt is a form of self-punishment. It is a reaction to
an event or a situation and when it motivates you
to constructive creativity, it’s both healthy and useful.’’
Salvatore V. Didado, Ph.D
You were rude with a friend and you feel guilt and as
a result you apologize, you offer to do a good deed to
help him. This form of guilt is healthy; it makes
Your guilt becomes unhealthy when in circumstances such
as mortality, breach of friendships…you begin searching
for past situations where an offend could have been
As an example in my personal life...for years I have
blamed myself for the accident of my little brother. I was
in the living-room watching television when I heard
the accident. I've blamed myself:
"If I had been taking care of him, this would not
It took me a while to recognize and accept that
blaming myself would not bring my brother back and
that watching television after lunch did not make me a
bad person. I had no clue my little brother was outside...
How could I possibly know that he would be accidentally
hit by a motorcycle? As a fourteen year old, you don't
know better.Carrying this inappropriate guilt
created inner-guilt and depression playing a toll on
If this is your situation, ask yourself the
"How is my behaviour so terrible, immoral or wrong?
Are you, by any chance, magnifying things out
Dr. David Burns M.D, from his book ``Feeling Good`` gives us warning signs and tips:
Feeling guilty when there’s nothing to feel guilty about
Feeling guilty about being happy, about something good.
Turning your guilt into anger
Experiencing guilt for an incident that happened
twenty years ago.
Your intense feeling get you in more difficulties
They cause you to lose friends, to reject their love for you
They diminish your drive for constructive behaviour
(working and socializing)
Engage in a reflection (alone or with someone, or a
Blow off some steam and strike the real issue
Session with a counsellor or therapist to help you
pinpoint you real guilt issues and help you notice how
these guilt translated into symptoms.
But sometimes we are guilty for good reasons in this case:
Take responsibility for your actions,
apologize to the person,
resolve to change,
than let go of it!
NOBODY’S PERFECT; WE ALL MAKE MISTAKES. If you suffer of perfectionism and you have a hard time dealing with mistakes please visit this page:
According to Dr. Sharon Faelten and David Diamond:
"Worry is the thinking part of anxiety…you feel sinking
in your stomach, your muscles tighten and ruminations take
over the mind, replacing unimportant thoughts."
The positive feedback of worry
Worry may help you:
to take some control.
"Worrying lets you rehearse negative possibilities and
allows you to prepare for the experience. You’ll cope
better because you worried."
Irving Janis in The Work of Worrying
When worry becomes a chronic concern…
When your worry troubles you…
When you feel there’s no way to prevent stressful
or counterproductive situations.
Tips to help with the worry trigger:
Learn to relax.
If you have memory concerns take notes.
Find ways of expressing your emotions and
If your worry is chronic...
Specialists recomment fixing a worry session - a time of
day where you're able to worry. You schedule it at the
same time every day. You monitor your worries during the
day; identify the beginning of an episode as soon
as possible. Make the decision to postpone it. Dislodge
the worrisome thoughts by focusing your attention on the
task at hand. Use your prescheduled ‘’worry period’’ to
work intensely on your woes.
During your worry session:
Create a problem-solve list
Sit down and list all your worries on one side of a
sheet and possible solutions on the other.
Ask yourself the questions:
What’s the worse thing that could happen?
Will I survive?
What’s the probability of that happening based on your
4. CONFRONTING LIFE-CHANGES
DEALING WITH CHANGES, (PARTICULARLY IN MID-LIFE)MOST
OFTEN UNEXPECTED CHANGES IS CONSIDERED ONE OF OUR
MOST TOUGHEST TRIGGERS:
Changes are considered highly stressful events.
It’s unexpected and we feel totally unprepared. We
have discussed a few of these concerns already! You wish
to make a smooth transition. In order to do so avoid
the following attitudes:
Underestimating or avoiding the feelings your
life-change-event instigates on you.
Acknowledge your feeling, your loss and also your desire.
Don’t view the situation as a catastrophe or place
needless demands over your shoulders.
Don’t blame yourself or others.
Anticipate the problems and the stress. Don’t deny it.
Give yourself some time and space for adjustments. Develop
good problem-solving strategies and alternatives in
case something comes up. Talk about your new situation with
someone; share your concerns.
This change can bring a positive outcome in your
life. Consider your past experiences. How did you cope
with change in the past? You will overcome the
situation again. Seek support whether financial, emotional
or professional if necessary.
Stress and tension are normal reactions to events that threaten us – whether financial, accidental, professional
or interpersonal. The way to deal with them has a lot to
do with our emotional and physical health. To summarize our reflection on stress management, I would like to present
the following life-style prescription…the 11 rules for living…
Look your troubles in the eye. Problems not faced do not
go away. Life is a roller coaster of ups and downs.
Anticipate each dip, and prepare for it.
Never say you can’t, but do say you won’t. Neither be
so discouraged that you quit, nor so stubborn you
won’t stop. Troubles come sooner and last longer for
those who wear themselves out.
For whatever you can no longer do, substitute something
else. There is nothing more refreshing than a good nap,
as long as it’s followed by waking up. Find a way to
slow down without stopping.
Don’t hide. If you want your special needs attended to,
you have to make them known. Do not be ashamed of
Claim your rights and privileges, such as the right to
refuse to eat more, the privilege of resting and pacing
your activities, the right to assistance, and the
privilege of cutting back on your work, and so on.
Be humble enough to accept help, and proud enough to ask
for it. Do not be ashamed to ask for what you need.
Accept help graciously.
Always offer a helping hand and a comforting ear.
Stay interested in the world around you. Concerns for
others lightens your own concerns.
Put anger, sadness and regret behind you. It’s
perfectly OK to feel anger at the pain and distress
of growing old. It isn’t OK to stay angry. It’s perfectly
OK to mourn the closing of chapters in your life. It’s OK
to regret all the things you could or should have
done differently. It isn’t OK not to forgive yourself
or others. Don’t let your anger today spill over
into tomorrow. Look back without regret, and forward
Always look for the bright side. We win or lose by
how we interpret and react to everything that
happens. Winning is rejoicing in what you have left.
Losing is seeing only what you have lost.
Take every day as it comes, and give it all you’ve
got. The thing to be afraid of is not what you fear,
but letting the fear keep you from going on.
Enjoy what each day brings. Be open with wonder
and excitement to new experiences, even those that come
with decline. Enjoy the ride down, even when you know
there is no going back up.
One great trigger of stress are your negative thoughts.
I would like to introduce you to this wonderful tool of
relief in your stage of mid-life concerns. A picture is
worth a thousand words...Dr Rozman PH.D
(Clinical and Counseling Psychologist)
was invited on the popular show:
The Doctors presenting the EMWAVE
technique that helps regulate stress and bring heart and
brain coherence in our everyday life situations.
The Sudbury Star - Read Ann Landers -
Jesuit offers Prescriptions for living -
by Rev. Robert Ronald, s.j.
Creative-soul-inspiration.com shares Reiki healing, stress management techniques, self-help and motivational material, alternative therapies and valuable information on mending the soul, alleviating depression, increasing your creativity and utilizing the law of attraction to increase your happiness and enhance your life. >
Confronted with stressors makes you feel helpless;
stress management is a mind power as the triggers of your
stess first begins in your thoughts.
"A software-based program allows you to observe your
heart rhytmns in realtime and assists you in
increasing coherence to reduce stress and improve health
Transforming Depression by Dr.Deborah Rozman PH.D p.171
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