By Kim S. Hwang, PsyD
Dear Dr. Hwang:
“Recently, I’m stressed out about being so stressed. What should I do?”
Stress is a natural part of life. It warns us about the possibility of incoming harm and at the same time it invigorates us to seek out new adventures. It motivates us and drains us.
Stress draws down our immune system and energizes us to keep going. How can one construct, have such polarizing effects? It’s hard to imagine
Often, the term stress is used interchangeably with distress. However, according to the American Psychiatric Association, the two are vastly different from each other.
When humans experience the exact right amount of stress, it can actually offer the perfect level of motivation to help us change unhealthy habits, move towards positive growth and even push us to amazing possibilities.
Distress however, implies the reversal of stress. Distress often deconstructs our mind, body and spirit to function optimally. Our capacity to do well under prolonged distress shrinks when we ignore stress. Hence, the conglomeration of stress results in an avalanche of distress.
Despite an abundance of media, magazine articles and internet resources that continue to inform us to sleep more, eat healthy and exercise we still ignore basic modalities that are proven effective to mediate distress. We fill our lives with work, unrest and chaos. We limit ourselves to few social engagements that would likely enhance our spirits and bring about laughter and joy. Then, we top it off with a diet of carbohydrates, processed foods and little physical activity.
This is the perfect storm for ongoing distress about stress. I write this because I’ve done this many times myself.
Once your mind, body and spirit have reached points of distress, it will take some conscious effort to regain a healthy equilibrium and lifestyle. However, it is worth it. It’s difficult to predict what may work for you based on your inquiry alone. But,
I would imagine that the stress you are referring to has become too much?
You’re likely craving reasonable expectations, if you are distressed?
This distress signal is communicating that you need to pay attention to what’s breaking down from within. This alarm may be requesting something different from you than what you are currently doing?
Pay attention to the stress that’s stressing you, investigate the broad range of resources that exist and consult with your doctor, so that you can begin to rebuild a life that invigorates and feeds you versus deprives and drains you.
Kim S. Hwang, PsyD has a doctorate degree in Clinical Psychology. She is an adjunct professor at the Minnesota School of Professional Psychology. Email questions to [email protected]
The purpose of this column is to invite you, the readers, to ask questions related to psychological and emotional healthcare issues that you are seeking an opinion to.
This column is not intended to diagnose or offer absolute answers. Instead, it is a very informal platform to begin a dialogue with you the reader, about psychological and emotional healthcare issues that you would like to discuss. Your identity will be protected.
Kim Hwang, PsyD