As a Functional Stress Management Specialist, I get asked often what functional stress management is and how it fits into medical care or wellness services. Functional stress management is exactly what it sounds like, a functional and mindful approach to managing stress. According to the American Psychological Foundation, “One-third of Americans are living with extreme stress and nearly half of Americans (48 percent) believe that their stress has increased over the past five years. Stress is taking a toll on people — contributing to health problems, poor relationships and lost productivity at work”.
Stress is something that has become so much a part of our daily lives that in many circles stress and signs of stress are worn as badges of honor. You might hear a colleague boasting that they are running on four hours of sleep, or that they were so dedicated to the last major project it gave them gray hairs. The reality is however that the physical symptoms of chronic stress can be very disruptive to our ability to live, happy fulfilling lives. According to the same report from the American Psychological Foundation “many people report experiencing physical symptoms (77 percent) and psychological symptoms (73 percent) related to stress in the last month. Physical symptoms of stress include: fatigue (51 percent); headache (44 percent); upset stomach (34 percent); muscle tension (30 percent); change in appetite (23 percent), teeth grinding (17 percent); change in sex drive (15 percent); and feeling dizzy (13 percent). Psychological symptoms of stress include: experiencing irritability or anger (50 percent); feeling nervous (45 percent); lack of energy (45 percent); and feeling as though you could cry (35 percent). In addition, almost half (48 percent) of Americans report lying awake at night due to stress”.
These symptoms of stress affect our ability to show up in our most intimate and meaningful relationships. Stress also hampers our ability to perform well in our careers and causes us to make poor financial decisions that often add up in the long run. Unfortunately, the tools that many people have to try to manage or reduce the symptoms of their chronic stress are counterproductive. The previously mentioned APA report shares that “while Americans deal with high levels of stress on a daily basis, the health consequences are most serious when that stress is managed poorly. Four in ten Americans (43 percent) say they overeat or eat unhealthy foods to manage stress, while one-third (36 percent) skipped a meal in the last month because of stress. Those who drink (39 percent) or smoke cigarettes (19 percent) were also more likely to engage in these unhealthy behaviors during periods of high stress. Significant numbers of Americans report watching TV for more than two hours a day (43 percent) and playing video games or surfing the Internet (39 percent)”.
This is where functional stress management steps in to save the day. There are scientifically proven approaches that can help us to manage our stress and lifestyle interventions that can help reduce or remove stress entirely. As a functional stress management specialist, I teach my clients to meditate, provide therapeutic movement and exercises, make custom aromatherapy blends and coach clients toward healthier dietary and life choices to reduce inflammation in the body and support healing. Functional stress management is about empowering people to make choices about their life and their health that is informed by what truly serves them. While I work very intentionally with the nervous system, many clients feel that apart from reduced symptoms of chronic stress or comorbid diseases, they learn how to say no to what doesn’t serve them and yes to what does. Breathwork, specially blended aromatherapy tools, therapeutic exercises and nutrition work on the body while lifestyle modulation, meditation and Yoga Nidra work on the mind.
Functional stress management is helpful for any person suffering from the side effects of living a stressed life. As stated above, these symptoms can be as varied as insomnia and digestive pain to lower libido and panic attacks. As a functional stress management specialist, I work as a part of a care team to support a holistic care approach which also results in higher efficacy rates for doctors’ care plans.
Thinking functional stress management might help you? Book a free initial consultation here.