Stress Management Guide from Save Institute

The Stress Management Guide is FREE from the Save Institute (www.saveinstitute.com) and contains helpful information about negative stress, especially during this difficult time of COVID-19. Also, May is Mental Health Month, so this booklet seems doubly timely! Here is a brief outline/summary below the cover:

 

There is positive stress and there is negative stress. Positive stress can be motivating. The stress becomes a problem when the same chemicals that help us become motivated become dangerous, especially when that stress is constant over a long-period of time. (The virus shut down might be a good example of this!)

(Note: The photos below are from the Internet, not from the guide book.)

The booklet has three steps to cope with negative stress:

  • Identify your stressors so you can pinpoint the sources and address the issues before they are out of hand.
  • Use natural methods (in the booklet) to combat these stressors and hopefully reduce them.
  • While some degree of stress is inevitable, work on accepting and managing these issue that persist.

On page 9 of the booklet is the 1967 Holmes and Rahe stress scale that is still used today, with Death of a Spouse listed as 100 (#1) and Minor Violation of a law listed as (11) and is lowest on the list of 43 items. IF your score is 300+, you are at the highest risk for illness; a score of 150-299 indicates moderate risk; and a scores of <150, there is only a slight risk of illness.

I think the problem becomes unmanageable when you have several stressors that may be low on the list (ex. major mortgage/32), but there are so many that their combined totals put you at higher risk.

Long-term stress can produce many different health issues. Here is a list from the booklet, which explains them in more detail:

  • Weakened immune system
  • Musculoskeletal issues such as pain and headaches.
  • Ulcers and ulcerative colitis.
  • Digestive issues, such as IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome)
  • Respiratory problems (ex. asthma)
  • Fertility issues
  • Skin disorders
  • Bone issues leading to osteoporosis
  • Kidney problems
  • High blood pressure
  • Psychological Issues: depression, anxiety, memory, and insomnia

(My note: As mentioned above, May is Mental Health Month, and with all the stress related to COVID-19, psychological issues might be high on the scale of the reactions  to the stress of coping with all the changes in the last couple of months.)

The next three sections deal with (1) identifying the different kinds of stress (ex, social stress, financial issues, etc.),(2) how to eliminate or reduce the sources of chronic stress, sometimes with just saying NO if you feel you are over your head with obligations or asking for help, and 3) accepting and managing unavoidable stress.

The booklet first explains that managing with alcohol and drugs is not a good option. Neither is overeating or eating unhealthy foods, compulsive shopping/spending, acting out and aggression.

What follows is a section called “Your Stress Management Buffet,” which is the booklet’s approaches to stress management. This includes tips on being pro-active about your diet. How you eat and your approach to diet is important in managing stress. Here is the list:

  • Don’t skip meals.
  • Slow down
  • Sit down
  • Enjoy the meal
  • Be conscious

In the next section, Proactive Eating, we learn which foods de-stress us, such as a cup of hot tea. “Some herbal teas, in particular chamomile, valerian, kava kava, passion flower, lemon balm, and lavender, contain ingredients that have a natural, non-addictive sedative effect.

 

 

 

Nuts have micro-nutrients that can help lower your stress levels. (not deep fried and salted.es) Dark chocolate (high in chocolate, low in sugar) helps you to de-stress. Drinking enough water protects you from dehydration and reduced brain functioning, which can cause physical stress.

Following this is a comprehensive section on supplements suggested to combat stress, such as B complex, Vitamin C and other anti-oxidants, Vitamin D, calcium/magnesium, and Omega 3 fatty acids. (Eating avocados and adding flaxseed to dishes are suggested as two ways to get your Omega 3s.) Herbs are also suggested: ginseng, lemon balm, valerian, and chamomile (with a caveat), passion flower, and a tea that combines several of these called Sleepy-Time Tea.

“Defensive Eating: Is Your Diet Stressing You Out?” is probably my favorite section. Here, the booklet examines the worst offenders: sugar, salt, food allergies, coffee (for some people).  This is followed by a section on the importance of regular exercise to de-stress. The recommendation I have seen in other articles: at least 30 minutes per days for at least 5 days of the week, includes walking, swimming, bicycling, and when the weather is inclement, exercises such as the treadmill, stationary bike, or elliptical trainer are good. (I would also add yoga and tai chi. es)

The section on the value of gardening to combat stress is one which I can attest to. I was going through divorce and menopause simultaneously, plus moving and financial problems at the same time: divorce is 73 points on the Life Event List, menopause, per se, is not listed, so I used a similar item (44 point), moving (change in living conditions) is 25 points, and change in financial state (reduction) is 38. Add them up for a total of 180 points, which is a moderate risk, but to me felt like a major risk. When I moved to my friends home and where I worked, I spent every afternoon in the garden, pulling weeds, and that did more for my mental and physical well-being than anything else, except for eating healthful foods.

 

Other helpful activities/hobbies are listed from scrap-booking to camping, with tips for choosing a hobby, especially the first which is: “Make sure you choose a hobby that doesn’t add more stress to your life.”

Then, the booklet discusses how to relax, how to breathe consciously, consider a massage,  aromatherapy (with herbs that help you de-stress, such as lavender and rosemary), meditation, yoga (mentioned above with exercise), and how to sleep well.

Behavioral therapy, such as hypnosis or self-hypnosis is discussed next, followed by anger management, using: humor, counseling, time management tips, and do your 80/20 best. (Pareto Principle: “In essence, it posits that 20 percent of your effort will result in 80 percent of the results.”

Finally, the booklet asks you to make a personal stress reduction plan with four steps that also includes a “stress diary” to keep track of stressors so you can track and manage them better. There is also a comprehensive resource list if you wish to delve deeper into any one of the sections.

 

FREE!

 

This 85-page FREE guide is an excellent resource that I found to be comprehensive, easy-to-follow, and something I can refer to when I find myself stressed. The Save Institute, headed by Vivian Goldschmidt, MA, whose emails I receive weekly on the topic of osteoporosis and other health topics.. Please go to her website for more information: www.thesaveinstitute.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One Response to “Stress Management Guide from Save Institute”

  1. coll Says:

    Great piece on de-stressing from the restrictions of the coronavirus, etc.
    Tops in my book/life: yoga, walking, certain herbs and teas, d. chocolate, etc., etc.
    Received a powerful packet of lavender from a friend on my recent birthday,
    though I had not thought of it as de-stressing. Would add to my list:
    dancing daily to music on the radio; playing my electronic keyboard occasionally.
    On NPR’s Living on Earth program today, I heard that digging in organic soil
    and walking/connecting with nature boost one’s serotonin level–a mood lift!
    That would include turning my compost heap!! LOL

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