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Stress Management

Stress Management

This part of the web site will inform you about stress, its dangers and how to manage it.

What is stress?:

A condition or feeling which the demand exceeds resources the individual is able to manage. Stress can be positive but can also be a negative experience. Did you know that 90% of visits to primary health care practitioners in North America are due to stress-related illnesses and complaints. Chronic stress has life -threatening conditions.

Issues that will be discussed:

Part I

Stress symptoms and its causes
Types of stress response (Fight or flight response and chronic stress, caveman vs. downtown man)
The stress hormone: cortisol
Chronic stress and the burnout
Stress-related diseases and disorders
Dangers to your health: behavioral, physical, mental and physiological
The inverted-U theory

Part 2

Coping and management methods: SWOT technique, relaxation techniques, time management, guided imagery, exercises, nutrition, natural supplements, pharmaceutical drugs, aromatherapy, yoga, meditation, spirituality and the ten laws of life.
The Ten laws of life from Dr. Phil

Symptoms that shows that you are undergoing a stressful moment:

Pounding heart
Apathy or depression
Irrational behavior
Loss of appetite
Comfort eating
Lack of concentration
Loss of sex drive
Tired/insomnia Skin problems(acne, exzema, psoriasis, ...)
Aches and pains
Missed or painful periods
Chronic headache
Tightness in the chest
Loss of memory
Difficulty in making decisions
Sweaty palms
Heart burn
High blood pressure + Shortness of breath
Cold hands and feet
Nervous tic
Talking too fast
Increased smoking and drinking alcohol

What causes stress?

Unemployment Relationships(divorce, marriage, etc)
Loss of a loved one
Academic exams
Finances problems
Teenage years
Peer pressure
Threats of physical or mental violence
Conflicts with family, friends or authorities
Season change
Aches and pains
Disasters e.g. earthquakes
Sexual assault
Mental illness

Stress can be positive but can also be negative.

A positive stress example can be a sportsmen or women that floods their bodies with fight-or-flight adrenaline to power an explosive performance. Also deadlines are sometimes used to motivate the students or employees.

As for negative stress, it can cause our performance to suffer. As an example is the life of a single mom with two small children who haven't learn stress management methods. Good or bad, we all have some degree of stress in our life.

Good or bad stress, the body reacts the same way in our system. But stress can be always positive and only acute if the person knows how to interpret and cope with it by developing strategies.

Acute stress or fight-or-flight response cascade:

1. Brain perceives danger neurogically
2. Sympathetic nervous system initiates fight-or-flight response.
3. Heart rate, blood pressure, blood sugar and breathing levels increases.
4. Adrenaline supports sympathetic system short-term.
5. Cortisol sustains fight-or-flight response.
6. Once the danger or threat is resolved, the body stabilizes.

Chronic stress response cascade:

1. Brain perceives danger.
2. Sympathetic nervous system initiates fight-or-flight response.
3. Heart rate, blood pressure, blood sugar and breathing levels increases.
4. Adrenaline supports sympathetic system short-term.
5. Cortisol, the stress hormone, sustains fight-or-flight response.
6. Stress is not resolved; the body does not stabilize.
7. Persistent, low-level of secretion of cortisol.
8. Cry wolf response: the body is unable to handle a real emergency.
9. Body becomes overweight, sleep deprived, poorly muscled, fragile, prone to infection, and often depressed, unable to perform under pressure or handle a difficult or threatening situation or illness.
10. Metabolic syndrome may result.

What is cortisol and its effects on your body?

Cortisol is the body's major stress hormone produced in the adrenal glands in response to stimulation by ACTH from the pituitary glands. Responsible for the prolonged phase of the stress response. GABA, a neurotransmitter, is the brain's calming transmitter.

Effects on the body:


Increased fluid retention
Increased cellular fluid
Enhanced blood coagulation
Reduced inflammation and immune response
Stimulation of the brain, reduced sleep, reduced memory



o Increased glucose production in the liver
o Reduced insulin secretion
o Insulin resistance
o Increased blood sugar levels


o Increased responsiveness of fat cells to adrenaline/noradrenaline/glucagons
o Increased fatty acid release to fuel glucose manufacture


o Increased release of amino acids from muscle to fuel glucose production

Here are example of fight-or-flight(acute) response and chronic stress response explained as the caveman vs. downtown man.

Caveman(acute): He sees a tiger, his stress hormones goes up, so he starts running(flight) and then throws a rock at the tiger(fight). In moments the threat is over and the stress hormones (cortisol) are back at normal.


Downtown man (chronic): He's tired of sleepless nights, does not know what to wear to the corporate merger meeting, the traffic is awful, he's 15 minutes late for his work, the boss calls him on his cell to tell him if he's not in at time then to not come to not bother coming in. He has no one to fight and he can't flight. Adrenaline and cortisol goes up, raising heart rate, blood pressure and breathing levels. He starts sweating honks the horn and feels enraged. The stress response battles to restore normal balance to a safe level but does not succeed. This is chronic stress, his general health now suffers.

When you are pushed to the extremes, here is how your body reacts:

1. Alarm phase: reacts to stressors
2. Resistance phase: resistance to the stressor increases as the body adopts and copes with it. It lasts as long that it can support the heightened resistance.
3. Exhaustion phase: When the resistance is exhausted, the body resistance declines substantially.

Chronic stress and burnout

What is a burnout?

When stress increases or decreases and fatigue or boredom starts to set in, either because you don't have enough stress or have too much.


Physical illness
Emotional exhaustion
Sense of failure in personal or job accomplishments
Depersonalization of social and professional interactions
Exposure to long-term stress

Stress can cause and contribute to physical, mental and physiological disease and disorders. Here are some examples:

Back pain
Birth defects
Cancer e.g. breast cancer, uterine cancer
Carpal tunnel syndrome
Elevated cholesterol
Chronic fatigue syndrome
Elevated cortisol
Heart disease
HIV disease
Immune system disturbances
Multiple sclerosis
Menstrual problems
Night eating syndrome
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
Post-traumatic Stress Disorder
Pre-menstrual dysphoric disorder
Temporomandibular disorders
Uterine cancer
Weight gain or loss
Allergies and Asthma
Osteoporosis/arthritis/rheumatoid arthritis
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Panic disorder

Dangers to your health


Panic attacks - Stress triggers panic attacks: sudden intense fear, chest pain, heart palpitation, shortness of breath, dizziness and abdominal discomfort
Depression: HPA (central hormone prominent supporter of the stress response) abnormalities along with cortisol receptor dysfunction plays a important role and development of mood disorders.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: Inadequate cortisol reaction immediately following a stressor puts a person at higher risk of developing PTSD
Stress causes relapse in depression, mania or psychosis
Sleep disorders:

o Direct link betweenCortisol sleep deprivation and cortisol production

o Sleep deprivation = change in the daily cortisol secretion pattern

o Inadequate sleep = cortisol levels do not have sufficient time to drop to a low enough level so you wake up feeling groggy, drowsy, unrefreshed and ill like symptoms.

I'm not finished doing adding the HTML code to the rest of the presentation yet... But in the mean time, I have put the presentation in Word version for people who has access to Word. For those who don't, come back in a week and it'll be available in HTML.