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Somatosync » What Is Stress?

What Is Stress?


What Is StressNo one can fully explain it, but many feel it.  Many feel it, but at different levels and realizations.  So, what is stress?   How do we know when we are stressed and how come stress shows up differently in one person than another?

Stress is more prevalent than we often want to admit these days.  We often view having stress as a sign of weakness where we are just not handling life like society has taught us we should.  Stress is something we joke about and can often see in others, but all too frequently we don’t recognize it in our own mind and body.

Stress is something that is left to think about for a Friday night get together work social, or what you will do during the weekend. Stress is something you think about when planning a yearly vacation attached to mobile devices while connected to your work place.  Stress for many people involves drinking large amounts of beer to just continue the numbing process.


We’ve Lost Site Of What Stress Is

Unfortunately, our view in this world of stress is so off balance, we have lost sight of what stress really is.  Stress is not something that is a sign of weakness.  It is a sign that our nervous systems and our mind body interface are out of balance.  Stress is a state where daily life events and moments are too overwhelming for the mind and body to deal with in appropriate ways.

When I went into the hospital for paralysis and what I later found out was Conversion Disorder, you could not have convinced me that I was stressed out.  Yet, I had been working 15 plus hours a day at the rate of 6.5 days per week.  Relaxation was something I knew very little about and in many ways, I didn’t feel stressed.  I prayed to God every day and tried to read my bible.  I thought God would take care of the rest and that relaxation or stress was not something that I should be bothered by in my life.

As I began to heal from Conversion Disorder (and I didn’t even know at the time that this is what I was suffering from), I began to experience true relaxation for the first time in my life.  Let me tell you, it was like a drug that I wanted more of, and so I continued my journey learning about relaxation.  It took me to the point of beginning to teach others about relaxation and later into massage school.


We Don’t Feel A Thing

When we are so stressed out, our bodies often don’t feel a thing.  We become numb physically and mentally to our body and our life.  Yes, we may feel extraordinary pains and aches, but that is only above and beyond our threshold of numbing in the body and the mind.  The more we numb our body, the more stress we add on until we have become so adept at hiding stress, we no longer feel it.  This leads to people thinking that they aren’t stressed out.   Stress is a silent stalker that knows how to disguise itself as having it all together in life.

It is only when the pains of life and the body get so great that stress brings us to our knees that we begin to take notice.  Unfortunately by that time, we have traveled into a world where medical intervention is required to bring us back.  Often times, it can almost be too late or at a point where the difficulty in coming back requires great courage and endurance.  Just think what life could be if we didn’t travel down this road so far!


We Can Hide From Stress All We Want

We can hide from stress all we want and we can wish it was not there, but eventually it will catch up with us.  The daily build up of stress is no different than involvement in a traumatic event.  The same basic biological and physical processes take place in the body, with the only difference being one happens instantaneously and the other happens over a longer time span.

Stress builds upon the experiences we have had from the day we were born.  In fact, it may start from a time before we were born.  Each experience that brings us pain in life away from joy, is stress upon the nervous system.  Many of these events are dealt with by a nervous system able to handle them, but the more you throw upon the mind and body, the harder it is for them to exit.  It is like if you are in a snowball fight.  You can duck from one snowball, but if you get 2 or 3 or 4 or more coming at you at one time, it is much harder to out-maneuver the snowballs.

I often hear people claim to one another that all they have to do is let the stress go.  While that’s a great thought and concept, if your nervous system has been weighed upon by previous unresolved experiences and a daily build up of stress, these words become nothing more than daggers.  It is another attempt by humans to numb out with words and disconnect from others around them, instead of embracing the pain and suffering of another to offer support.  Our society tends not to operate in a connected way, but this is a shame and very harmful to the world as a whole.


Everyone Has Stress In Their Lives

Everyone has stress in their lives.  Even the most balanced Yogi or the greatest spiritual person in the world has stress.  In fact, you need stress to help you function in your day and keep you moving forward.  Without stress, our bodies would not be upright and we would become complacent in our functions of everyday life or our purpose in life.  For anyone to act as if they are not stressed or they don’t have stress, is to act as if a human is not a living entity.  It just isn’t so!

Instead of continuing to deny the stress we have in life, we need to learn how to relax on a daily basis.  We need to learn how to feel the breath and essence of our bodies.  Learning to connect our felt sense of the body with the mind in a conscious way makes us more human.  Anything less than that and we not only degrade our own humanness, but we also degrade the world as a whole.

Each one of us has different levels of stress and different experiences.  What we do in our day contributes heavily to what the mind and body endures.  Hiding and numbing from stress is not going to solve any issues.  It will only add to them in the form of wars, strife, frustration, anxiety, depression and anger.  Stress will only add to physical and biological conditions, from pain and tense muscles to more disease and illness, thereby prompting the use of medications and medical procedures.

When I graduated from college, I had the fortunate opportunity of observing farm animals through a research setting.  No, we didn’t harm our animals!  We learned by observing them.  From the vast numbers of animals that I was around, I could readily see how stress affected them.  If the outside temperature dropped drastically, you could almost count on having to treat many sick animals from pneumonia in the days ahead.  If a water pipe burst and water flow was interrupted to the animals, it took very little time before the effects could be noticed.  If a hurricane was coming, we could observe the animals visiting their feed source multiple times per hour, but eating very little.  You could almost identify the time the storm came through from watching these eating patterns.  If a caregiver was a nervous and anxious individual, you could not only see the effects in how the animals responded, but you could see it in their performance numbers.  Stress was very evident in these animals and sometimes they could recover quickly, while other times disease and illness showed up, wiping large numbers of them out through death.


It Is Up To Each One

It is up to each one of us to wake up and understand the relationship between our own actions, our experiences in life, and the stress we are under in how they affect the mind and body.  We can choose to be curious about these things and go into discovery mode, or we can continue to hide and numb from all that is inherent in us.  Much of what we consider to be important in the medical world is often intertwined with stress.  Many doctors know it and try to counsel patients to get rid of stress in their lives.  Unfortunately, just like I found many years ago, no one could tell me how to de-stress my life.  The only thing they could do was tell me I needed to let stress go and relax.

Relaxation and getting rid of stress are not as difficult as one may think.  It is more than words and thoughts and feel-good phrases.  If you continue to read other information on this website, you will gain a better understanding of how to let things go.


Sources Of Information

Here are some links to check out for more information:

  1. Dr John Sarno and 20/20 Interview in his treatment of back pain and the unusual approach.
  2. The Ways We Numb The Body – Discussion on Somatosync about numbing in the body.
  3. Waking The Tiger by Peter Levine
  4. Hope And Possibility Through Trauma by Don Shetterly
  5. Evolutionary Healing Institute – Unified Therapy with Dr. Paul Canali
  6. Relaxation Through Mind Body Awareness – Lecture by Don Shetterly




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