Where did Stress Come from and How Do I Make it Go Back There?

Stress has pros and cons. We seem to need a base amount of stress. Without a certain amount it is like a world without shadow for definition. We seek it out. If we don’t seek it out, it comes to us as boredom, understimulation is a stressor as well.

But I have no reason to be stressed…

Having stress isn’t a bad thing. Everything in moderation makes for a healthy balance. The director and professor at the FSU Traumatology Institute in Tallahassee, Florida is Charles R. Figley. He writes of “Compassion Fatigue” and ballparks the healthy ratio of positivity to negativity to be 5:1 for optimal flourishing. Sometimes our ratios slip off. Sometimes way off. We need to renew ourselves or else we languish and relinquish our energies unneccessarily.

It seems many people do not allow themselves to admit they are feeling a little stress. Stiff upper lip and don’t bother anyone with your small stuff and all that. Being able to cooly deal with whatever may come is a valued trait. Extend that and we find people unconsciously setting up strange rules for themselves, such as “I don’t need sleep” or “I don’t need rest or play” or perhaps even, “I can handle anything. Bring it on”. G’won hurt yourself if you gotta but do you reaaaaally want to put yourelf through that?

Knowing when to call it quits and being alert to how your energy is being used is a critical life skill. Pressing your limits now and then is fine but pushing the envelop daily and telling your body to be quiet when it is talking may not be in any best interest.

But sometimes we’re “doing everything right”. There is no reason to be stressed. Family, friends, work, sleep, diet, exercise, emotional life, creative life, all are quite well in hand. No crisis. No fights, no wars. Got security and a balance of work and play and blammo (or blame-o), or something or other: headache, cramps, virus, inexplicable exhaustion or pervasive unaccountable stress. Where could that have come from?

Ms. Moolman-Smook pointed out we can be stressed because we learn in two ways: by conditioning and by observation. If stress in our immediate lives is at neglible or maneageble level, are we taking on stress from others, adopting stress bundles from the world at large? No news is good news, really because “news” is often bad.

By seeing other lives all the time, by seeing and hearing on TV, by being in direct sensory contact with so many lives, we make those stresses our stresses, and not only our stresses but our constant habitual stresses. Like background noise or constant odors, we learn to screen out the constants but that doesn’t mean our body screens them out. Those stresses can still be impacting us physically and chemically and building up toxicity.

What to do? We are living in a world of communication to a greater degree than many preceding generations. That has benefits, but not only benefits.

There was something good in see-speak-hear no evil. Those are happy monkeys. Ignorance is less stressful so long as you don’t fear what you are missing out on and not being told. We have to give ourselves permission to not care, to allow some things to be not our domain for caring about. We need, on all levels, to let things go. We fool ourselves if we think we can do otherwise. The body will tattle on us if we peek and worrywart over some secret concern that “we don’t really care about” but really do. Letting go is a skill that needs to be practices and doesn’t come naturally.

In these days of internet/TV/radio/news/speed of news, we know not only about the concerns of the most intimately known people in our life, but the knowledge, good, bad and neutral of many lives in our family, community and who we have never and will never meet. We know about storms on coasts of cities we have never heard of until the latest disaster. We know first person narratives of the pain and joy of thousands of lives.

Constant pings of fear condition us to be more receptive to fear and letting ourselves access stressful materials of other people’s “news” allows us to make points of stress a constant cloth of anxiety that we wrap ourselves up in. Rather like the man who keeps poking his eye with a spoon handle, the obvious common sense solution needs to be spelled out.

Short version: Don’t expose yourself to junk if you don’t want to feel like crud. You have the power to control what touches you. Use it.

Soundtrack: Agnus Dei II by The Monks of Silos

Featured Book: Simply Celebrate: 101 Simple Ways to turn Ordinary Days into an Extraordinary Life such as,

Simple Tip for a Simple Celebration
This week can you practice being present to yourself? Can you give yourself something? Is it time you want? Maybe you need to say no to a request or to cancel something you’ve scheduled? Do you need a long soak in the tub? A walk in the woods? A splash in the lake? Maybe you need to tell people you’re taking a week off from email. Do you need to let yourself off the hook for something? Can you let go of thinking you need to be responsible for making anyone else happy right now? Try

See Also:More tips for accommodating graceful calm into day to day life

green beans and English muffins Menus: Long green beans, gnocchi, a variation on béarnaise sauce with bacon, and whole wheat English muffins toasted with crab and cheddar topped with avocado.

sole with spelt wheat and a variation on béarnaise sauce Part of a filet of sole with spelt wheat and a variation on béarnaise sauce.

Featured Quote: If necessity is the mother of invention, play is the father

PSA: Those local may like to take in the Good Companions Christmas Bazaar, Woodworking, Craft and White Elephant Sale and Tea on Saturday from 10 am to 2 pm. Should pop you right into the Christmas spirit.

28 Nov 2005, 6:23pm
Books Life Anecdotes Poets
4 comments

Poetry “Found”

All that we find was out there all along. Others even knew about it. 😮

Reading: Yesterday I finally bought ChristopherLevenson’s 2000 book of poetry, The Bridge with such grace and humor and deliciousness as,

‘Marrying you’, you friend said, ‘would be like
climbing a mountain.’ I certainly didn’t have
the right boots, had not been in training;
yet there was, is still, an exhileration
in the expense of energy

I also bought For the Living and the Dead, a blingual Swedish-English edition of Tomas Transtomer’s book translated by Don Coles. What choice did I have? I mean when poems come and knock the wind out of me, triple-time my heart beat and make my head feel like it’ll blow off, buying a book is the least I can do. Take this one line. Poetry is personal like humor but it leaves me humbled and thrilled,

In silent pools the midge’s larvae’s
furious dancing question mark.

This is no run of the mill self-ex{pression/bition}ism. There is something profound and masterful about what they choose to write.

Soundtrack: I Get a Kick Out of You from the CD Swinging Along

Glad Game: Saw the movie Menolippu Mombasaan / “One-Way Ticket to Mombasa” which is a 2002 Finnish film about a raod trip of two cancer patient teens.

Gladness other than, or including that? Accquisition basically of the two books above. To add gluttony to glutton, I received my multicultural calendar and to add gluttony to my list of vices I bought Mohamed Fouad’s newest CD.

Featured Quote: “Sit down and put down everything that comes into your head and then you’re a writer. But an author is one who can judge his own stuff’s worther., without pity, and destroy most of it” ~ Colette from Casual Glance

Word Chain:diverse city, diversity, diverticulosis, divert tricky-wicky, lickety-split, like a jackrabbit, bound to get out of it.

Thought: If your drawer is too full, empty it. Reduce the clutter. If your days are too full, empty them of the clutter.

27 Nov 2005, 12:13pm
Books Poem Drafts
2 comments

mentally undressed (poem)

Poem Drafts:

mentally undressed

behind the coat zipper,
under immaterial cotton
onto her shower-humid skin,
wind draws a line of himself
winks a snow flake,
reshapes her wet hair
into dreadlocks.

(Year after year, I always seem to return to sensuality of nature poems.)

springtails, snowfleas,
terriers, all sproing
elastic teeter-totter of joy

surprise!
trees have new flowers
rosettes of snow.

Soundtrack: Good drumming by Inta Omry Oum Kalthoum and El Alb El Tayeb by Mohamed Fouad.

Glad game: The Ottawa Independent Writers’ Christmas Book Fair continues today. I expect to make it out. [P.S. Did attend and it was fantastic. Such a wide array of fiction, non-fiction, adult, small and larger press books.}

Hot showers are mwwahh.

Produce locally, eat globally. Mangohhhhh-powerrr.

My fingers automatically put them in uppercase after typing HTML manually for so many years but fortunately WordPress automatically reformats in order to close most tags and switch tags to lowercase when I forget.

The most important change [from HTML to XTML] is the requirement that the document must be well formed and that all elements must be explicitly closed including empty elements such as img and br. This can be done by adding a closing slash to the start tag: <img … /> and <br />. Additionally, in XHTML, all tags must be written in lowercase. [Source: Wikipedia XHTML]

Reading: Green Rider was amazing. I had started it in a couple snatches over the last few days but I read the last 400 pages or so straight through from 6 p.m. to 2 am. All the timelines and plotlines intersected in a spiral that blew my mind to read, and more so how Britain conceived of structuring and organizing such a complex world and making it all compelling and pulling the plot constantly forward. What a ride!

Word Chain: hair snood, crude jute snood, root one’s snoot, loot the coot, occlude the cooties and blue-footed boobies, boob jewelry, cruel and honey crueller scooping sour cream for heart attack out of hand.

Overheard: At the grocery store, they recently renovated so the grocery carts are outdoors in a shed. The lobby now has a coffee machine and microwaves added to enlarged space with the pay phone. 3 homeless men gathered from the cold and one remarked, “whaw. c’est un grand salon ici!”

And: Two cows stand side by side nipping the fresh grass. Daisy shakes her ears of flies, licks her shoulder, leans over and moormers casually to Dolly, “You know, I was artificially inseminated this morning.”
“No way, I don’t believe you,” says Dolly. “It’s true, no bull!” exclaims Daisy.

Endangered Species Chocolate

I’ve tried a few bars from The Endangered Species Chocolate Company. Some are entirely too sweet for my palate. Given the low price, my hopes weren’t that high but worst case, it has some cocoa. [It’s 75% cocoa content and only $2 pr 85 g/ 3 oz. ]

The “intense dark chocolate with cocoa nibs” still has sugar in second place before cocoa butter but is not too sweet. It’s got some variation in texture and depths of flavors. It’s got some nice tones and no burnt flavor. The meltability and texture are great. There’s no nasty tongue-coating.

Before taking into account, high corporate responsibility quotient, I’d give the bar a 4 out of 5 on quality of chocolate for eating directly with the low price nudging up the rating by half a point.

As a bonus to consumers it donates some profits to animal protection and educated on the inside of the packages about bats and Bat Conservation. One small brown bat can catch 1200 mosquitoes in an hour. As insectivores, they control insect population reducing need for pesticides. 7 out of 45 American species are at risk due to pesticides, direct killing and disturbing of hibernation and maternity colonies.

Glad Game: I found this cute Ecudorian sweater for our niece in the market:
handmade sweater

I received Nola’s book of poetry in the mail today. :-)

A man found my wallet that had dropped out my pocket. He collected up my cards which were scattered over the snowy sidewalk and buzzed me from downstairs that he had found it. 😀 Everything was wet but intact. Any later and snowfall or plow would have made the loss permanent. In my surprise I didn’t ask for the Good Samaritan’s name but he lives on my street so we may cross paths again soon.

A full evening with the Hub. :-)

Good plans for the rest of the weekend.

Word Chain: trust, trussed, muss, tassel, wrassle, wrestle, mortar and pestle, haste makes chaste, chased, chide, child, wild, mild, mildew, moulder, smoulder, spark!

Bonus Thought: Elton John is finally able to formally, legally wed in UK next month when England legalizes gay marriage next month.

Which reminds me of another kind of love story entirely. Two antennae meet on a roof, fall in love and get married. The ceremony wasn’t much, but the reception was excellent.

Best Wishes: To all the American readers who celebrated. Hope you had a Thanksgiving better than you had even hoped for.

We Can Stress This Enough: Ottawa University Stress Forum

What is Stress Physically?
You know this. I know this but during stress we can get a body-mind disconnect because that is part of being stressed. We aim for task or attack, and reflection falls off until a more convenient time.

When you get stressed, your neurons, hormones, and from there whole physical systems (tendons, ligaments, muscles, bones, tissues, blood, organs, digestion, respiration), mental (neurotransmitters, receptors, hormones, memory) and emotional (subjective mood and perception) systems, are affected and create an interaction with the other sytems.

Hanlie Moolman-Smook of University of Stellenbosch gave an overview of what stress does to a person: Your pupils dilate, heart rate increases, blood flow changes, respiration speeds, sugar is released to the blood for flight or fight to a greater or lesser degree. Adreneline flows. Your immune system is put on hold due to more urgent matters and your reproductive reponse with it. Your blood pressure goes up a little or a lot.

Stress reaction may be subtle or it may be more attention grabbing for the person experiencing it. For instance when there is bold speech where angels fear to tiptoe, as in,

Poem Draft:

Taboo Touched On
and the satin bullet of
silence penentrates
the temple
of conversation
room dropped quieter
than bones

under the dead weight
of held air
throats clear
flakes of a blizzard

distant scrape
labial folds of elevator
doors open like orange zest,
the fresh face delivers
breath to us all.

What Happens Hormonally in Stress?
A trigger has provoked a stress response deep in your brain. This causes your hypothalamus to start to release CRF (a corticotrophin releasing factor) to your pituatary gland. Your pituatary gland receives this as a signal and as a result releases ACTH (adrenocorticotropic hormone) into your blood. ACTH gets to and stimulates your adrenals (on your kidneys) to release glucocorticoid (in the family of cortisol steroids).

If I understand correctly, these are the chemicals that block pain and ready you for re/action. They are involved in carbohydrate, protein, and fat metabolism, and are used as anti-inflammatory agents.There are receptors in your hypothalamus that receive this glucocorticoid chemical when it cycles back around. Receiving it causes the hypothalamus to turn off the chain reaction. If you have few receptors, the chain reaction is harder to turn off and may keep cycling.

A later post will look at the repercussions of that habitual stress-level. First, the good news.

What Good is Stress Anyway?

Stress makes a person look good: animated, alert, focused, flushed, quick reaction time, fast-moving, fast-thinking, attentive. None of this dull-eyed, slack-jawed business. Stress heightens your senses and makes you feel alive. Being habiturally stressed has advantages in a competive market for jobs or for mates. You perform in top form with a fire under you. Is it sustainable indefinitely? It does have side-effects. Are there long term benefits to being low-threshhold stressed and often “sensitive” and reactive?

Michael Meaney reports that there’s an adaptive value to stress response. When your systems change to adapt to be sensitive to stress, you can resist famine better and longer. Because of what is going on in your systems, you are less likely to die of septic shock from an infection. Being reactive to stress, you have less mortality due to aggressive conflict. [He didn’t elaborate. Perhaps because you are the first to high tail it away? ]

The notes around the theme of the biology of stress from the Frontiers in Research Lectures are now online. There are offline. There were pdf files of notes by presenters, a wealth of information adding up to over 9 MB (over various links) of notes and power point presentations in each of English and French presentation notes from the Ottawa University Frontiers in Research Conference.

I will summarize some more of the points I found interesting interpersed with my own ruminations on what I heard. For the original notes you can check there. I plan to post a few more excerpts bit by bit. I’ll intersperse the further ones later on to put more variety.

Light Links: Rosen has a lot of comics in his pdf file about people interacting with technology

Story Link: The story of a stranger making the day of a mother and son is a heartwarming sort of short-short story.

Tech Link: The 7 deadly Sins of Blogging

injera and ethiopian and indian saucesMenu: Injera with dora wot, hard boiled eggs, and a mixture of pureed okra, peas, onion, kidney beans and rajmah masala. Cucumber slices (as the fire brigade).

Soundtrack: Steven Halpern: Music for Sound Healing.

Glad Game: A laid back day at work. Due to the winter storm, many couldn’t come or made it in an hour or two late. Those who did come were extra mellow and community bonding-like.

I got accepted onto the waiting list to receive a visiting Weasel.

I received a book from BookCrossings.com. This is a free book exchange with the byline of books: love them and leave them. The title I got was In Evil Hour by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. It won a Nobel Prize for literature in 1982 and it is being sent around the the world, released to the wild to be often read thru BookCrossings.com so some thought it was the read.

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