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 anything that causes the Sympathetic Nervous system to engage. Because the body only has one set of tools for the response the content, or context, or the "threat" is almost irrelevant. It's not relevant because the result, the body's response, Is the same as "your blood pressure Increases, your heart beats faster, and digestions slows down" (Reader, up. 2).
However since our modern stresses are not fleeting, we never out run the bear because the "bear" is just our boss at work. Our system does not manage itself well anymore. Our nervous system activates and then stays activated, we never reach the "rest and digest" side of the equation, which is detrimental to both physical and emotional health over time. The detrimental effects of stress over time Our body's inability to tell the difference between a life threatening event and a I OFF of response which can be thought of as "unresolved survival-related tendencies" (Ogden, et al, Trauma and the Body, 2006, P. 6) is where we get into trouble. Our "fight or flight" response is a finely tuned emergency reaction system, built over a millennia of evolution, which is now poorly adapted for our current living Tyler. As noted in the reading even the most recent and sophisticated of our arousal system is ill equipped to handle the daily levels of stress we live with. Living with this unresolved activation can cause "atrophy in a part of the brain called the hippopotamus" (Reader, up. 9) which affects memory.
Continued exposure to the chemical soup that stress releases can impact our immune system, and make us susceptible to "upper respiratory infections" (Reader, up. 9) and it can lead to weight gain, heart problems, and a litany of other health issues. As that is the case finding a useful tool for mitigating the impact of stress is important. Mindfulness: an applied model of stress reduction To that end I have been practicing Mindfulness. The process of Mindfulness is one of expanding self-awareness.
The process has been defined as an acute awareness of personal experience that occurs without Judgment (Davis & Hayes, 2011). In short to be mindful is to be open to the full experience of the body in a way that is not recriminating, to allow the way the body feels to inform one of the status of the body. In my case I applied it, Mindfulness, as a process of somatic and emotional wariness. To that end I would sit, or walk, and first focus on my breath. This awareness would allow me to become tuned to my somatic state and to center myself.
Once I found my balance I could explore the physical responses I was having to a given stresses. Once I had explored those areas that were embodying the stress I could relax the physical elements, and release the tension. This would allow that regained sense of calm and control to extend into the emotional realm. It is interesting to note that I found that a similar model was useful in physical pain reduction as well. Stress: my ongoing experience As noted stress is a daily presence in my, and most American's, lives. It is pervasive and persistent and, as our reading has shown, dangerous.
My Stress Log, maintained from the 17th of July 2014 to the 1 lath of August 2014, has been both interesting and at times irritating. My results offered me an opportunity to note that my experience with stress is more regular and pervasive than I had thought. The log has given me insight into a set of recurring stresses that I live with, which affect me almost daily, which I am working to contend with. My number one stresses is my espouse to people that abuse my time. I am a fairly ordered person and so I enjoy a life that is structured. I am where I say I will be at the time I say I will be there.
When others are late, or interfere with my plans, it activates me. My stress levels skyrocket. Another ongoing battle with stress comes from traffic, I hate sitting in traffic. There used to be a pattern to traffic in the bay area, a clock you could be aware of and use to stay clear of traffic Jams. Now there is no logic to the mess, no time there aren't too many people on the road, and no way to avoid the headache. It does not sit well with me. Finally there is a constant stresses in my life that is both unmanageable and inescapable, my Father.
Our relationship has never been great and now it's devolved into a place where I am sort of the hired help. Every time my phone rings and I see it daily (at times hourly) stress events I have been applying the process of Mindfulness, and the results have been pretty good. Conclusion After 4 weeks of use and training myself to think "mindfully' I can engage the process of mindfulness as needed, with varying degrees of success. My ability to feel my own espouses is steadily improving, and that ability allows me to "get ahead" of the moment.
I am responding, rather than reacting to, things like my Father, or Traffic, or any of a number of other issues on a daily basis. This has enabled me to feel more in control and generally happier as I navigate my day. It has brought me enough relief that I am working to get my wife involved in the process. Before my log I didn't think I was so engaged with stress, now I see that it is my constant companion. With that knowledge and given my new understanding of the harmful effects of stress on the odd, the opportunity to learn Mindfulness (and other moderation techniques) has been enjoyable and helpful.