Stress Relief through Proper Management
The Origins of Stress Research
Article one of four in the Stress Management series
by Art Martin Ph.D
Hans Selye is considered the first researcher who was able to assign a meaning to a syndrome he discovered which was destroying productivity in business and was causing burnout in many people. Selye complained several times that if his knowledge of English had been more precise, he would have gone down in history as the father of the “strain” concept.
Although Selye was fluent in at least eight languages, including English, and could converse in another half dozen, his choice of “stress” to describe the non-specific response syndrome he discovered, was unfortunate. He had used “stress” in his initial letter to the Editor of Nature in 1936, who suggested that it be deleted since this implied nervous strain and substituted alarm reaction. He was also unaware that stress had been used for centuries in physics to explain elasticity, the property of a material that allows it to resume its original size and shape after having been compressed or stretched by an external force. As expressed in Hooke’s Law of 1658, the magnitude of an external force, or stress, produces a proportional amount of deformation, or strain, in a malleable metal.
This created considerable confusion when his research had to be translated into foreign languages. There was no suitable word or phrase that could convey what he meant, since he was really describing strain. In 1946, when he was asked to give an address at the prestigious Collège de France, where Bernard and Pasteur had been friendly rivals, the academicians responsible for maintaining the purity of the French language struggled with this problem for several days, and subsequently decided that a new word would have to be created. Apparently, the male chauvinists prevailed, and le stress was born, quickly followed by el stress, il stress, lo stress, der stress in other European languages, and similar neologisms in Russian, Japanese, Chinese and Arabic. Stress is one of the very few words that are preserved in English in languages that do not use the Roman alphabet. Selye was fond of sending colleagues and friends’ cards containing his advice on how to conduct their professional and personal lives, as illustrated below:
S tress management: How do you react during stressful situations? No wonder you’re stressed. You’re doing more with fewer resources every day at work, and deadlines lurk around every corner. When you get home, you take out your frustrations on your family. Weekends are booked solid with household chores and errands. It’s been months since you spent an evening alone with your partner. There are very few days off where you can get away from the stressors. So how do you handle it? Understanding how you currently respond to stress — for better or worse — is the foundation for successful future stress management.
Evaluating how you deal with stress is the first step in effective stress management. Look for these behavior patterns. Reactions to stress vary.
Some people seem to take everything in stride. Their naturally laid-back attitudes shine through in every situation, another deadline? Bring it on. You needed to be there 10 minutes ago? OK, let’s go. The dishwasher is leaking? No problem, it’ll be a simple repair we can get it done today. Look up who we can call. These types of people never get stressed out because they take immediate action to solve a situation at hand. They look at most situations as a challenge rather than a problem which can take care of by finding how to take care of it or outsourcing it to be done now. Others get anxious at the first sign of trouble. They pace the floor or have difficulty concentrating on the task at hand. Many times they procrastinate rather than taking action. Any interruption or change in plans may cause a problem for them. They are on auto pilot following a set path. If they have to make a decision to take action, it upsets and stresses them out.
Dr. Daniel Hall-Flavin, board certified in general psychiatry and addiction psychiatry, has special interests in adult psychiatry, addiction psychiatry, and psycho genomics. He has served as medical director of the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence from 1986 to 1999.
His comment is, “With the pace of advances in medicine, informed collaborative relationships between knowledgeable, capable health professionals and informed, proactive individuals we are finding their families are more vital than ever in maintaining balance”. What he discovered was many people suffer from Depersonalization disorder: A feeling of being ‘outside’ your body. What causes depersonalization disorder? How is it treated? Depersonalization — a feeling of unreality or of being “outside” your body — can be a syndrome or a symptom of a mental disorder. It’s often associated with anxiety and stress. These feelings can increase existing anxiety by making you feel like you’re losing control. Although these sensations may be uncomfortable, they’re not harmful. Episodes of depersonalization usually last only a few moments. But they may occur repeatedly. People with persistent stress or anxiety may have longer episodes of depersonalization that come and go over several years. Sometimes anxiety about having another experience with depersonalization may trigger these feelings. Accurate diagnosis of depersonalization and of any accompanying mental disorders is important.
My feeling is these experiences are caused by feeling alone and not accepted by your family and peers. I have seen clients who describe this feeling similar to a panic attack. . It makes no difference where they are or what they are doing at the time. They feel unable to cope with anything and have stop what ever they are doing and sit back and do nothing until the feeling passes. Most of the people feel anxious or stressed out, they begin to breathe more deeply and more frequently (hyperventilate). This reduces carbon dioxide levels in your blood, which causes: lightheadedness, dizziness and unusual feelings, such as being outside your body and observing your actions from a distance. Most the people affected by this syndrome usually have come from dysfunctional families where they feel they have been rejected and abandoned. It is caused by traumatic experiences that come up spontaneously without any notice.
Conventional medical an psychological practitioners think cognitive behavior therapy helps you understand why depersonalization occurs and trains you to stop worrying about the symptoms so that they go away. My view is they will never go away until we address the issue which causes them to rise unexpectedly and release the triggers, activators and catalysts which activate their program.
Of course, these examples are extremes. Most people who have stress responses fall somewhere in the middle. When you feel confident, you’re likely to take new stressors in stride. If you feel cornered or unprepared, your stress level may rise. Look for patterns in your coping strategies.
In the next four articles Dr. Art Martin is going to detail what stress is and how to handle it so you can have freedom from stress. We create stress by our reaction to it. In reality, there are only stressful people who react to stress. In the example above the person who takes action and responds to the situation never gets stressed out. He or she takes control of the situation at hand and solves the issue before it becomes a problem. Dr. Art Martin has been working with people to help them overcome the conflicts in their lives for thirty years. He has developed a therapy process described as Energy Medicine and Energy Psychology. The specific modality is described as Neuro/Cellular Reprogramming. It is a process to take control of your mind and empower yourself to take control of your life.