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You've Got Stress? Yes...I Guess

Welcome to 2016! We are excited to kick off the New Year by beginning a blog for Connect PT. The culture at Connect is one of relationship and partnership with our patients. Each individual brings a unique set of challenges and goals to the rehab experience. We work to create a specific plan and approach that not only includes treatment and home programs, but also involves collaboration on creating a healthy lifestyle. As an independent practice we have the luxury of creating our own practice culture, one where we look to create life-long connections and act as an ongoing resource to our patients. We hope you enjoy our posts and find the information useful.

You’ve Got Stress? Yes…. I guess

How many of us bristle when we hear the word stress? We are quick to either feel the weight of it on our shoulders or create a defensive stance: “no, I’m not stressed”. Hans Selye first defined the term in 1936 as “the non-specific response of the body to any demand for change”. That word alone carries an oversized handbag of messages, judgements that I am not handling my life well, not making good decisions or that my life is out of control. In reality all stress means is that a demand has been placed on us, one we have to respond to – either consciously or unconsciously. It can be either distress, a negative stressor or eustress, a positive stress. Popular culture focuses on the negative stressors – demanding bosses at work, balancing the demands of work, family, life, and of course, the mother-in-law. But stress can also be too much of a good thing – the eustressors or good things in our lives also create a demand. Stress becomes distress when we no longer have a balance or an ability to meet the demand, then things start to break down. Any way you slice it too much is too much, even of a good thing.

At the end of the day the research shows us that everyone encounters stressors. The important fact isn’t if you have them or not, the importance lies in how we respond, how we manage it. Do we feel that we are driving the car, or careening down the tracks in a runaway train? There are multitudes of stress management approaches that are very effective – exercise, mediation, positive communication, breathing techniques – there are volumes written on the subject. There is no single answer for everyone, but I might suggest that a good place to begin is with awareness. Try listening to your body and its response to the demands that are placed on it. Awareness allows us the access we need to interject a change.

One great way to help improve this awareness is through Biofeedback. The techniques involved in Biofeedback use a series of external monitors to measure things like hand temperature, sweat gland activity, and muscle tension – all systems that respond to stress. The feedback they provide help to make connections with what is happening inside our body and assists us in learning how we can make a different type of response. I have used these principles of learning to control a stress response as a very effective tool in pain management.

More on the specifics about Biofeedback in a future blog, but for now, consider taking a moment to stop, listen to your body, and breathe. This year as we set our resolutions and goals, how about including some time to connect and impact your health, before it becomes a symptom. If you would like more information or to chat about how you can begin to work on a relaxation program, give us a call at Connect PT, 503-974-9078 or email us at

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