Stress, Distress and Eustress
By Dan Gleason, DC
As if modern life wasn’t stressful enough, the last several years of SARS Covid 19 have increased the potential for even more stress. Stress isn’t necessarily bad; certain types of stress are to be expected and can even lead to growth. Gravitational stress is an example, without it everyone would lose bone and muscle tone (not to mention floating off into space). There are stressful joys and stressful sorrows such that stress can build us up or break us down. Distress is bad; eustress is good. The trick is to accept a certain amount of stress and use it advantageously.
Stress can be physical, chemical or mental.
- Physical stress can come in the form of injury, sudden or repetitive. Physically people are profoundly affected by beds, pillows, chairs, shoes, etc. The way the body moves and exercises (or fails to) has an impact. Good posture and exercise habits build up the body; poor ones break it down. Other examples of positive physical measures include massage, physical therapy, yoga, acupuncture, chiropractic and Tai Chi.
Chemical stress comes from what is eaten, breathed in and absorbed through the skin. Healthy food and nutritional supplements build up the body. Junk food (Standard American Diet = SAD) breaks it down. Poor ventilation and air quality can lead to many common maladies. Lotions, sunscreens, shampoos and more often contain toxins that put stress on organs of detoxification like the kidneys and liver.
- Mental stress can be imposed by circumstances or self-inflicted by how one deals with thoughts and feelings. Today’s headlines all too often relate the number of deaths from Covid, suicides, homicides, accidents, wars, hurricanes, shootings and drug overdoses. While these may be true, there is also much good that is not as newsworthy. Perhaps limiting how much new is ingested could be helpful. People are living longer and, compared to other periods in history, this is actually a very safe time. The challenge is to put things in perspective. Dialing back the fear factor reduces stress.
The physical, chemical and mental factors are all interrelated. Addressing one has profoundly positive effects on the others. For instance, exercise has been shown to be better that medication for many cases of anxiety and depression. Good foods and eating habits can make moving less painful and increase levels of happiness. Meditation, talk therapy and prayer can improve physical health and even improve metabolism.
Thankfully, people are now being encouraged to openly discuss mental health. Sports figures are coming forward admitting mental health challenges instead of suffering in silence. These are positive signs that may be part of a silver lining resulting from the stressors of the last few years.
Anyone who is feeling isolated is encouraged to reach out to others who may be feeling the same way. Community is a great vehicle to help. Call, write or text old friends. Get back to exercise and yoga groups. Go back to church, art shows, museums and sporting events. Join others for a walk, coffee or a drink.
Implement the Physical, Chemical and Mental model to work toward improvement in all these areas and turn distress into eustress.
Dr. Dan Gleason is the owner of The Gleason Center located at 19084 North Fruitport Road in Spring Lake. For more info: go to TheGleasonCenter.com or call 616-846-5410.