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Steve is a Doctor of Chiropractic, graduating valedictorian from New York Chiropractic College in 1982, and international speaker, and a bestselling author.
Having endured crippling anxiety and low self-esteem early in life, resulting from bullying and abuse as a child, Dr. Taubman made it his mission to understand the nature of happiness and the remedy for emotional turmoil. His search led him to neurology, holistic health, mindfulness, positive psychology, and hypnosis. He now travels the world helping business professionals get out of their own way to achieve prosperity and inner peace.
Hans Selye, the father of stress research, tells us that stress is a form of input or stimulation which can come from both good and bad sources. A wedding can be just as stressful as a funeral, a raise as stressful as a firing.
Our bodies react to all stress in the same way, what Selye called the General Adaptive Syndrome. Our hormones change, our organs swell, and our glands adapt in a variety of ways which, if given sufficient time to recover, ultimately make us stronger. However, when stress is chronic and unremitting, our organs and glands begin to fail. We become ill.
Any time a change takes place in our lives, there is stress. Up to a point, that stress is healthy and valuable. We call that “eustress.” Beyond that point, it becomes “distress.” As we increase our capacity to handle stress by voluntarily submitting to eustress such as exercise and meditation, we experience less distress. Since stress in and of itself is neither good nor bad, and since its sources are neither good nor bad, we need to observe not so much what's happening around us as how we're reacting to it.
Some of the things that may unknowingly be causing you stress are...
Time on the internet or playing computer games..our virtual worlds are perceived by our subconscious minds as real. Where in the days of our ancestors, stress came from real danger, like being hunted, today we can experience the exact same stress from imagining negative outcomes, which often creep into our minds as we surf the web and find things we don't like, or when we voluntarily put ourselves in imagined danger. While surfing the web and playing games aren't inherently bad, their addictive nature is. All stress is compounded by relentlessness, so build in mandatory stop breaks to allow your nervous system and hormones to return to normal levels before reengaging in these activities.
Gossiping with friends about other friends..our minds are nurtured by love and distressed by fear and hate. When we reinforce negative feelings among ourselves or seek support for a point of view which is dramatic or judgmental, we insidiously create an internal state of stress which we many not feel in the moment, but which certainly erodes our well being. Become aware of your dominant thought patterns and habits regarding what you say about others. Commit to becoming more loving and generous in the way you talk about others, and look for opportunities to build people up rather than tearing them down.
Being too inactive. Our bodies are made to move. When we sit around watching TV and ignore the need to be in action, our physical bodies suffer, and the response is stress. This is often felt as depression or anxiety. Sometimes our minds begin to feel fuzzy or out of sync with reality. If you feel those symptoms, that's stress. Get in motion, take a walk, fill your lungs with fresh air, break your pattern, and allow your nervous system and endocrine system to function the way they were meant to function.
Your cell phone. More than almost any other stressor in our lives, the cell phone is a huge source of stress. We text relentlessly, failing to be mindful of our actual circumstances. We allow ourselves to become troubled and preoccupied by the dramas we create through those communications. And we react immediately to the sound or vibration of our phones such that we've left behind our free will to choose the object of our focus. When we become slaves to technology, our stress level goes through the roof, because we're constantly on high alert, unthinkingly accepting the demand to pay attention to the phone over our own lives. If you're noticing yourself automatically answering your calls and texts as soon as they come in, try a deliberate fast. When your phone rings, hear it and consciously choose where you want your attention to be. It's OK to ignore the phone and to choose to relax into the moment. At first, this might feel stressful, but ultimately, it's freeing.
Uncertainty about your life. While stress is a physiological state which produces specific responses in your body designed to help you avoid physical danger, what many call “fight or flight,” in today's world, most of our stress is the result of our own thoughts, not some danger “out there.” When we're not sure where we are in life or what's next, our brains begin to unleash a barrage of out-of-control thinking. We panic. What will I do? What's the point of it all? What's next for me??? These questions trigger the same internal response as being chased by a lion. And that internal response breeds more of the same kinds of thoughts. In other words, we get sucked into a cycle of thoughts and feelings from which it's hard to escape. If you find yourself ruminating or churning about your life, recognize that the thinking you're doing is making you gradually less resourceful and more stressed out. The answer here is to learn how to quiet your mind. Take a class on meditation, go to a yoga studio, sit by a pond and feed the ducks. Do anything other than think. Remember, you need a break from the stimulus to your stress, and when that stimulus is your thinking mind, that's the thing from which you need to take a break!
With ever source of stress, the most important thing you can do is to stop the activity and center yourself. Exercise, meditation, and calm, mindful activity are all valuable for combatting stress, and are all, for many of us, the last things we want to do. That's because stress is addictive, and when you're in the midst of dealing with your stress producing activities, you're under the delusion that the way out is to continue doing what you're doing. Most of us think we'll solve our stress by solving the puzzle that is our lives. But the truth is that stress only ends when you develop the capacity to stop doing what you're doing and thinking what you're thinking, and develop a broader, less reactive perspective. You'll know you're on the right track when your serious, preoccupied mind settles down, and you see your sense of humor returning. And that makes it all worthwhile!