Somatic Psychology: Stress
August 12th, 2014
Stress and coping: a process The idea of stress is one that we, those of us in the American culture, live with all the time. There is a sense that multitasking and always coping with “more” is a sign of success. This is simply not a healthy way to live. In fact given the human capacity to extrapolate ideas we don’t even need to have anything actually stressful happening to activate ourselves. Instead, as noted by Sapolsky, “we can turn on the stress-response by thinking about potential stressors that may throw us out of homeostatic balance far in the future” (Sapolsky, 1998, P.7). This means that unlike animals in a natural setting we can stress ourselves into illness with just the idea of future problems. That idea, the constant nature of stress, is part what the following paper will address. The other element of the paper will consist of a discussion of an ongoing stress and activation log I have maintained. The intention of this log is twofold. First I am tracking what sets off my stress response and second I am tracking the value of applying “mindfulness” as a somatic stress reduction tool. In all what follows is a glimpse into the way stress exists in my life, how applying a new management tool helped, and what I think it all means to me.
What is stress?
A question that must be answered is “what is stress?” The National Institute of Mental Health says that stress is “the brain 's response to any demand” (NIMH, 2014) which is a simple statement that has tremendous ramifications. As we are, at nearly all times, under a demand of one sort or another. But Stress is more than that, as it is also a physiological process. As discussed in our reading the process of stress is not event specific, but rather a generalized response by our nervous system to certain chemicals produced when we are activated. That activation can be a Bear charging us, or a paper that is due, or
References: Davis, D. M., & Hayes, J. A. (2011). What are the benefits of mindfulness? A practice review of psychotherapy-related research. Psychotherapy, 48, 198–208. doi:10.1037/a0022062 Sapolsky, R. (1994). Why zebras don 't get ulcers: A guide to stress, stress related diseases, and coping. New York: W.H. Freeman. SPC5512 Reader (Various authors) Somatic Psychology Perspectives on Stress and Psychbioimmunology. PP. 2 – 9 Ogden, et al, Trauma and the Body, 2006, P. 26