Building Stress Resilience, Part I

Stressed out woman walking on dirt road
by Allison Svobodny, ND

Stress is undertreated, even in our naturopathic field. Why? It’s hard to treat! Stress management and building stress resilience ultimately have everything to do with changing habits and behavior.

How does stress show up in our lives?

Relationships, work, finances, parenting, health, poor nutrition… to name a few!

Stressors can affect different areas of our lives:

  • Physical
  • Mental
  • Emotional
  • Spiritual
  • Social

Stress is inevitable, but not inevitably detrimental. You have the power to harness it, respond to it, and defuse it. How do YOU experience stress in YOUR body, mind, emotions, spirit, and social behaviors? Let’s take a more detailed look at how stress shows up in these five areas of our being.

How does stress show up in our bodies?

  • Low energy
  • Headaches
  • Upset stomach, including diarrhea, constipation, and nausea
  • Aches, pains, and tense muscles
  • Chest pain and rapid heartbeat
  • Insomnia
  • Frequent colds and infections
  • Loss of sexual desire and/or ability
  • Nervousness and shaking, ringing ears, cold or sweaty hands and feet
  • Dry mouth and difficulty swallowing
  • Clenched jaw and grinding teeth
  • Changes in appetite—either not eating, or eating too much
  • Fidgeting, pacing, nail biting

How does stress show up in our minds?

  • Worrying
  • Racing thoughts
  • Forgetfulness and disorganization
  • Poor focus
  • Poor judgement
  • pessimism or seeing only the negative side

How does stress show up emotionally?

  • Anger
  • Anxiety
  • Frustration
  • Resentment
  • Apathy
  • Sadness

What are the signs of spiritual stress?

  • Crisis or questioning of values
  • Crisis or questioning of meaning
  • Questioning purpose
  • Joyless striving
  • Misalignment with one’s core spiritual beliefs

What are the signs of social stress?

  • Relationship/marriage difficulties
  • Lack of social support
  • Lack of resources for adequate survival
  • Financial stress
  • Isolation

America is experiencing an epidemic of loneliness. Loneliness, believe it or not, can shave eight whole years off your life! Humans are social, and we need a community in order to live. At Prairie Naturopathic Doctors, we are offering this community-based course on building stress resilience because we recognize the growing need for togetherness, awareness, and a safe place to engage deeply in your own healing process by paying attention to YOUR patterns that create disease.

The choices we make for our health and wellbeing depend almost entirely on our response to stress, not the stress itself, which we are exposed to externally. The goal is to become AWARE of:

  • What we react to (and it can be unconscious)
  • How we react (in mind and body)
  • How to SHIFT that reaction to a conscious (present-tense awareness), directed response

Stress, or “adverse or very demanding circumstances,” are inevitable. We have a choice in how to relate to that stress, and how it affects us in the long-term. Stress is a temporary state; it is our job to prevent it from being a constant (ongoing).

In our series, you will work with your RESPONSE to stress, and learn how to ACTIVELY CHOOSE resilience, thereby making it easier to choose health. People who elect to attend our workshop will actively engage in the following:

  • Thinking/reflecting
  • Journaling
  • Mentorship, counseling (objective viewpoint)
  • Somatic inquiry, body scan
  • Emotional tracking or tending
  • Reading/listening to others’ experiences
  • Meditation 
  • Prevention

Healing in a deep, lasting way requires a conscious look at your RESPONSE to stress and actively choosing a new way. Essentially, we are saying that healing is a choice you make. How does that sit with you? With any of your big dreams, goals, anything you truly wanted—did it just suddenly happen for you? Most likely, you had to work very hard to achieve it, am I right? Your success took your maximum effort. So, “going all in,” in this case, entails making an effort to attend the workshops and taking a dive into your personal habits and tendencies—and then figuring out how to change them for a healthier stress response. 

Do you have a regular practice of setting an intention? An intention is a way of planting a seed in your subconscious brain, your entire nervous system, your energy field: “This is what I want.” It’s powerful! Set an intention for yourself for this course—big or small, make it authentic to you. Write it down in your journal or folder. And remember to come back and join us for Part II and Part III, in which we dive into building your very own Stress Resilience Program.


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March 1, 2022

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