By Carl Clark, MD,
President & CEO of the WellPower

Stress. We hear a lot of people, friends and family talking about stress these days and interestingly what is stressful for one person might be fun for another. For example skydivers love the exhilaration of jumping out of an airplane and parachuting to the earth. Other people see skydiving as something they would avoid at all cost, in other words, a stressful activity. So how do we define stress when it is something that is highly personal?

Three elements are necessary for something to be defined as stressful.

  • First stress causes a physiologic reaction that we can actually measure. Our blood pressure goes up, our pulse rate increases our bodies experience tension. This is the type of reaction we experience when we are in the “fight or flight” mode where our bodies are prepared to react. These natural reactions of our bodies help us survive in the world.
  • The second element of stress is our personal view of what is happening. For something to be considered stressful it is something we would avoid if we could. Like someone who sees skydiving as stressful, they avoid it.
  • The third component of stress is the feeling that you do not have control over what is happening. This is one of the most important elements of stress as it helps us understand what to do when we are feeling stressed.

And what can you do when you’re feeling stressed? Look for any ways that you can gain more control in the situation. Other ways to relieve stress include regularly participating in activities that you enjoy. For me, I love cooking and snowboarding. Deep breathing exercises help calm the mind and the body. The best deep breathing exercises for relaxation include a deep breath in with a slow exhale that is longer than the inhale. Exercise relieves stress and mitigates the harmful effects of chronic stress. So when you are feeling stress, find something you can do about it.