Book review for The Upside of Stress: Why Stress Is Good for You, and How to Get Good at It by Kelly McGonigal

Synopsis: What is stress? It is how we react when something in our life is threatened. If you experience too much you death risk can increase. But that’s only if you view stress as a negative. People who don’t view it as a negative have a very low risk of death because “mind over matter.” Being positive can be beneficial since it impacts how healthy you are because it plays a large role in our feelings, behaviors, and thoughts.

The book discusses how different stress responses help us connect, age, and grow. While fight or flight has its place, stress can help us work through challenges and become better people. The author writes that when life is stressful, it frequently is more meaningful. Even thinking about stress differently can help us cope with it. Resilient individuals can recognize that life goes on, no matter how stressful things get because more often than not, they went through hard times in the past. The author includes many examples and studies to back up her points.

So how do we benefit from our anxieties? Embrace them. Repeating positive mantras channels stress and turns it into strength. Embracing it can prevent us from getting into the anxiety-avoidance cycle. And when we have real interactions with other, stress becomes something different. It turns into knowledge, confidence, and courage. So, a better way to deal with stress is to reach out to other people.

When we see the ways stress can benefit us, we can bounce back from it more effectively. So, when we take a moment to evaluate how the situation is ultimately good for us, thinking through the problem at hand will help us better deal with the stress and help us in the future. While I enjoyed this book, the author’s Ted Talk was also good. To read this book in its entirety, get it here.

Until my next post, why not check out my YA novels about mental illness, memoir writing, or even my Native American mystery series on Amazon, or follow me on TwitterInstagramFacebookGoodreadsLinkedInBookbub , BookSprout, or AllAuthor.

Anxiety Causes and Things I Had to Do to Lessen It

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

Please note that I didn’t write to cure it because for some people there is no cure. Anxiety may be in part genetic. So, what are some other causes: alcohol and drug abuse, chronic pain or injury, stressors or uncertainties, personality, unhealthy eating and little to no exercise, traumatic events, or diabetes, cancer, or other physical medical conditions like thyroid disorder.

So, according to my therapist, what are some things I tried that alleviate anxiety?

  1. Deep breathing
  2. Progressive muscle relaxation or the body scan from head to toe
  3. Taking a walk even around the block to begin
  4. Listening to soothing or upbeat music
  5. Drinking chamomile tea
  6. Practicing yoga or stretching
  7. Journaling
  8. Limiting caffeine & avoiding alcohol and/or nicotine
  9. Exercise such as running or swimming
  10. Get plenty of sleep by aiming for 7-8 hours in a room without electronics, preferably dark (for melatonin) and slightly on the cool side
  11. Meditation by either sitting on a chair, on the floor, or laying down to get the incredible benefits for reducing and managing anxiety
  12. Questioning your worries by asking: Is this thing that I fear likely to happen? How can I be sure? What evidence do I have? If it does happen, how does this affect me? How would someone else view this worry? Is there another possible outcome or explanation? Is this fear solvable? What can I do to solve it at soon as possible?
  13. Immerse yourself in nature by getting daily doses of fresh air and sunshine
  14. Aerobic exercise reduces cortisol levels (stress hormone) and anxious thoughts thereby making you feel happier and calmer.
  15. Give up on perfectionism by setting goals and striving for completion with the time allotted. Then submit and move on. No looking back.
  16. Cut back on sugar, which can cause or contribute to many health issues and chronic diseases, including mental health disorders like making anxiety or depression worse. Remember, sugar quickly releases energy, but it is followed by a sudden crash, which brings on even more sugar craving.
  17. Eat an antianxiety diet such as vegetables and whole grains that give a slow release of energy and are stable on blood sugar, helping to control your sugar cravings.
  18. Avoid foods from conventional farming that use chemicals such as pesticides, fungicides, herbicides, and other toxins that your body needs to eliminate. Visit a farmer’s market.
  19. Avoiding processed foods are loaded with additives, preservatives, colorings, flavorings, and other chemicals that also cause a lot of extra work for your detox organs.
  20. Detoxify your body with techniques that include eating plenty of high fiber foods, i.e., root vegetables and whole grains, Epsom salt baths, quality sleep, sauna sweating, drinking enough water, hot shower for five minutes then immediately followed by a brief cold shower.
  21. Eat a healthy and balanced meal, i.e., that avoids essential nutrient deficiencies with B vitamins, Vitamin A and C, magnesium, zinc, iron and selenium, and omega 3 fatty acids that aid the body and mind in functioning correctly.

What makes me feel overwhelmed?

I’d say lack of preparedness is the main cause. Initially, I was going to say social situations but with the correct medications and the right preparation, I feel like I can move mountains. If I remember correctly, back in college Interpersonal Communications class, the instructor said it was somewhere around 90% preparation to give a speech.

In Spirituality & Healing class, we were first taught that we aren’t alone in feeling inundated. Stress impacts everyone, regardless of race, age, or gender. What causes it can be universal like work, relationships, finances, politics, or environmental concerns. Or it can be personal like health issues or past traumatic experiences. Even if it’s personal and you may have a different stress level threshold, accepting your feelings about the root cause may reduce or eliminate shame or guilt, thereby less feelings of overwhelm should occur.

So, when you feel yourself swept off your feet, focus on the things you can control and practice breathing exercises and mindfulness. Some other things are setting better boundaries, practicing consistency, taking breaks, listening to music, or spending time in nature or with loved ones. Nobody deserves to be engulfed in responsibility to the detriment of their health. Finally, if need be, seek out a therapist for more coping strategies.

Exercise and Schizophrenia

angela grey treadmill

My new treadmill arrived and my family thinks that I’ll be similar to a hamster on a wheel. I love it. It has one touch incline and speed controls and a really quiet motor It only took us an hour and a half to assemble. I’m so excited. Now I just have to figure out what to do with iFit. The above image is from the brochure website.

Regarding schizophrenia and exercise, patients can be more lethargic but that is typically the medication side effects. When I was on a higher dose of Seroquel, I just sat around and had the munchies for days. Abilify (aripiprazole) teamed with Wellbutrin (buproprion) changed that so now I’m constantly moving around from situation to distraction.My doctor worked with me on changing the medication amounts considering I’ve had an eating disorder and am opposed to any such weight gain.

Patients with schizophrenia do tend to gain some weight due to the meds as well as have metabolic problems and thereby also have an increased risk for heart disease and stroke.Diet, lowering cholesterol and blood pressure, as well as controlling diabetes, high blood sugar levels and lipids in the diet are the main treatments.  But exercise does double duty by reducing weight gain as well as stress. To make matters worse for the person with schizophrenia, negative symptoms can interfere with motivation to exercise. But with my new treadmill, I’m doubly motivated.

Group Meditation

group_meditation_44b652-m

Prior to needing meditation, I never realized how many opportunities exist if you only look for them. From community college continuing education, to college walk-in silent group sessions, to the mental health non-profit opportunity I took part in today. I’ve found that meditation is necessary with my schizophrenia because it helps to control the restlessness and tremors when I relax and intentionally forces the stress out of mind and body. For me, not only is medication necessary but I don’t know where I’d be without silent group work.

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