Stress survival

Stress: Don't just survive, thrive.

I am excited to describe my new-found concepts of health in regards to stress survival. I adopted these learning goals for stress survival. I hope that what I share will help you too!

  1. Understand how the mind-body connection impacts health.
  2. Understand how some stress is good, but too much stress needs to be managed.
  3. Understand how to manage stress effectively and build resilience.

Stressful or negative emotions are a cause of disease.Huangdi Neijing Suwen (Basic Questions of the Inner Canon of the Yellow Thearch)

I would rather know the person who has the disease, than know the disease the person has. — Hippocrates

Stress is a series of events that begins with a stimulus (stressor), that precipitates a reaction in the brain (stress perception), that subsequently results in the activation of fight or flight systems in the body (biological stress response).
—Dhabhar & McEwen, Brain Behavior & Immunity, 11: 286.


  1. Get emotional control
  2. Help me with time management
  3. Diet, exercise and nutrition
  4. Plan in positive experiences
  5. Clarify values, meaning, purpose and connection
  6. Not magnify stress by avoiding goals of perfection at home or at work

Psychoneuroimmunology (PNI)

My stress response is for my survival, and not meant to kill me.

    My health is affected (biologically) by my
    • immune system which is affected by my
      • nervous system and my
      • endocrine system which is affected by my
        • nervous system which is affected by my feeling
          • stress
          • social support
          • hostility
          • fatigue
          • depression
          • anxiety

When a car pulls into my path, it immediately increases my

  1. Heart rate
  2. adrenaline
  3. noradrenaline
  4. ...

A similar stress response is induced by various situations requiring or admitting protection, performance, or pleasure. Examples:

  1. (protection need) A truck pulling into my path and blocking it while cruising down the road on a motorcycle
  2. (protection need) Surgery about to occur
  3. (performance need) Giving a speech before a large audience
  4. (performance need) Exercising
  5. (pleasure need) First kiss
  6. (pleasure need) Intimacy

Most research is focused on long-term (bad) stress (months to years), but it is also important to understand short-term (good) stress (minutes to hours) — rapid response followed by rapid shutdown.

A movement of cells occurs in regards to the immune effects of short-term stress. In about 10 minutes after a stressor, my immune cells are flowing through blood vessels to needed areas. These cells also have more fire-power following a short-term stress than with long-term stresses.

Significant costs of Long-Term Stress

  1. ↓ protective immunity
  2. ↓ motivation, creativity
  3. ↓ efficiency, productivity
  4. ↑ inflammation and biological aging (bad immune responses)
  5. ↑ susceptibility to infection, cancer, heart disease, etc.
  6. ↑ anxiety, fear, depression, anger, aggression
  7. ↑ healthcare expenses
  8. ↑ time lost from work

Stress range

Good stress must be sharpened to maximize the immune defenses. Even just telling students before taking a test that test anxiety is beneficial can improve scores.

Factors that lengthen the no/low stress resting zone

  1. Lifestyle
    1. Sleep
    2. Nutrition
    3. Exercise
  2. Psycho-Social
    1. appraisal
    2. coping
    3. social support
    4. authenticity
    5. gratitude
    6. compassion
  3. Activities
    1. meditation
    2. yoga
    3. mindfulness
    4. nature
    5. walks
    6. dance
    7. art
    8. craft
    9. painting
    10. writing
    11. fishing

To reduce bad stress,

  1. I do my best
  2. I am not too hard (or easy) on myself
  3. I am not too hard (or easy) on others
  4. I make time for a stress-reducing lifestyle and activities
  5. I find and give genuine support
  6. I do what I can
  7. I don't stress about stress — it might not kill me.

Tuning my stress factory for better results

By definition, people who are stressed don't have a lot of time.

Types of stressors

  1. If someone cuts me off, I can forgive and let go of it right away. I don't let it build or affect my day or week.
  2. Work or projects need attention or fixes. I can't simply let them go, but instead give them a good effort. Take adequate breaks between such stressors.
  3. Illness (self or family) is very tough. I cannot control the stressors but I can control my response to them.

Factors that make up stress

  1. Physical stress
  2. Balance of positive and negative events in my life
  3. Connection socially and feeling a sense of meaning and purpose.
  4. Mind = Emotions + thought habits

Habitual thinking can be inaccurate. For greater resiliency I understand my thinking and become more accurate in my thinking. I don't overreact, and am suspicious of my default negative emotional response. I am kind to myself without guilt and I am kind to others. I get adequate sleep. I get adequate physical activity. I am honest, authentic, and genuine with myself and others.

The to be + to do list for stress survival

  1. I want ability to control my emotional response so its in proportion
  2. I want ability to control my behaviors
  3. I want to be a good problem solver
  4. I want to have a realistic can do attitude (self esteem)
  5. I want to be realistically optimistic
  6. I want positive social interaction with others
  7. I want a willingness and ability to reach out
  8. I want to maximally harness the biology of good stress to promote health and well-being.
  9. I want to reduce and eliminate bad stress.
  10. I want to maximize the zone of health and healing.
  11. I want to take it from myself, to groups, to society as a whole.

In conclusion, I have plenty of stress, but it is not all bad and I can make it better within and without.