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18 - Stress Gets A Bad Rap

18 - Stress Gets A Bad Rap

Stress Gets A Bad Rap

Stress. Many of us tense up just at the sound of the word. We envision high blood pressure, strokes, and heart attacks.

In fact, stress is commonly considered the cause of many health problems. The Mayo Clinic classifies these under the effects of stress on body, mood, and behavior.

Defining the Terms

But, exactly what is stress? “I’m stressed” usually means “I’m overwhelmed by daily life” – by obligations to work, family, and friends.

For some of us, stress also results from biting off more than we can chew in a single day. Think about it: when you take on more than you can accomplish, you get stressed because you’re never done, your day is never done, you can’t dial it down at night because you’ve got uncompleted work. And, lack of accomplishment leads to suffering self esteem. The mind gets overwhelmed. Remember that: the stressed mind is overwhelmed.

So, stress generally has a bad connotation.

Balancing the View

But, is stress something to be eliminated altogether? Or, is it rather something to be managed?

If stress were only bad, then the goal should be its elimination, not merely management. In fact, stress management leads to a more complete view of stress, as an incentive to growth.

Physical Stress

The body is hard-wired to respond to stress. Yes, the body works through stress. Take resistance training, for example. You’re alternatively tearing and mending muscle fibers in order to stimulate growth. Well, the tearing is stress, and the mending is rest or relaxation.

Even when we study or learn new things, we create new neural pathways. We learn and grow through stress, both internally and externally.

Moderation and Perspective

The key is moderation. It’s important to understanding the mechanism of stress, as well as how it’s defined by a given person. For example, two hikers are walking down a path and encounter a fallen tree. The first, a defeatist, sees the tree and says, “Oh, the way is blocked!” The other, a stoic, looks at the tree and says, “So, do we go over, under, or around it?” In other words, the obstacle has become the way. This choice presents itself to each of us countless times in our own lives. Is the traffic jam merely a delay in travel, or is it an occasion to practice deep breathing and mindfulness?

In practice, it helps to create personal rules for dealing with stress. These aid in distinguishing the boundary between healthy and unhealthy stress. And, we don’t always get it right. It’s a fluid boundary. But be mindful that moderate stress is a good thing. Live in a positive and meaningful way, and you’ll gradually learn to replace mental stress with mindful attentiveness.

Infrared and Stress

Infrared frequency stimulates and elicits certain responses from the body. So, exposure to this frequency a positive, natural, and nurturing event.

But, keep in mind everything we’ve said so far. Let’s imagine a Lyme patient. She’s suffering from a chronic ailment and is very anxious to feel better. She understands the infrared sauna will be a help. But, instead of starting low and slow, she sets the temperature too high and stays in the sauna too long.

The end result? What should have been a positive physiological event has become an incident of exaggerated detoxification, causing a Herxheimer reaction, followed by a week of incapacitated recovery in bed.

Yes, even when it comes to infrared therapy, there can be too much of a good thing, if you overdue the therapy too quickly.

The Bottom Line

When it comes to relieving undue stress in our lives, it’s all about relaxation. That’s right: relaxation is the key to stress relief. Declutter your mind; get plenty of physical exercise and sleep. Learn to see the difference between mental and physical stress. A peaceful mind experiences little to none of the former and knows how to moderate the latter.

So, be mindful, but don’t stress!


The Therasage Team

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  • Melody Besner
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