Stress Management

This lesson will discuss different types of stress, mechanisms to address and balance stress with rest and recovery, as well as the ramifications to your health if stress is not balanced properly. We will also discuss our most important rest and recovery mechanism, sleep. We will review things you can do and habits you can develop to get the appropriate amount and quality of sleep.

Learning Objectives:

  • Physical, emotional and environmental stress is a part of life.
  • Stress is an important part of life that helps us to build resiliency (think exercise).
  • Stress if not balanced with enough rest and recovery can lead to illness and injury.
  • Sleep is our primary rest and recovery mechanism.
  • Improving sleep hygiene and habits can improve the quality of rest and recovery you receive from sleep.
  • Stress and recovery can now be easily measured and therefore assessed.
  • Recovery mechanisms can be improved and developed

Stress comes in many forms: physical, environmental, and emotional. Stress can be used to help us become more resilient, as is the case in properly programmed exercise. Stress can also have a negative influence on our health. When stress is not balanced with appropriate rest and recovery illness and injury can be a result, improperly programmed exercise (not enough rest) is an example. Stress is a part of life. In fact, stress is an important part of life as stress when used properly, like with exercise, provides the stimulus to improve our resiliency to stress.

There are ways to address stress that will improve health. There are also ways to measure your stress response. If we can measure the stress response we can also measure improvements in that response. This is very important and a new development in lifestyle medicine. The ability to measure stress allows us the ability to evaluate what might be causing the stress and therefore measure whether or not the mechanisms we are employing are effective in improving the stress – recovery balance. This is done using a device that is worn on the wrist for 4-5 days. This device provides us a 24-hour monitoring of heart rate and something called heart rate variability or HRV. HRV allows us to measure the balance between our “Fight or Flight” nervous system and our “Rest and Digest” nervous system, which are also known as the sympathetic and parasympathetic systems respectively. When we measure a person’s stress and the sympathetic, or Fight or Flight system is dominant we know we are dealing with someone that is ineffectively dealing with stress. The opposite is true in that when the parasympathetic system is dominant we can assume the person, while not necessarily being stress free, is balancing the stress they are experiencing with enough restful time periods to promote health.