Reader's Digest - The 7 Different Types of Stress—and How to Ease Them

Stress can simmer over time, hit you like a sudden jolt, or blast you out of the blue every so often. Here’s expert advice for taming stress.


Type of stress: Ambient anxiety


Out of all the types of stress, ambient anxiety can be potentially chronic, and it gets fed by current events and world unrest. It can strike anytime you turn on the news or hear about someone else’s ill fortune. Ambient anxiety is not empathy, but rather, a stress-laden, intense reaction to bad news—a nearby robbery, for example—coupled with fear that it will happen to you or to a loved one. “People who suffer from ambient anxiety have not developed an internal psychological and emotional barrier. Things they see and hear penetrate them to their core,” explains Beverly Hills-based psychotherapist, Fran Walfish, PsyD. Her tips for eradicating ambient anxiety include lots of self-care, plus limiting your daily intake of news. “It also helps to avoid negative people. When trying to keep a positive attitude, you must avoid people who thrive on negativity,” she adds. Try these simple ways to make managing stress much easier.


Type of stress: Work


According to the World Health Organization, work-related stress causes ill health, reduced productivity, and poor motivation. It also increases on-the-job accidents. “A recent study in Preventive Medicine, indicated that prolonged exposure to work-related stress is linked to an increased likelihood of specific cancers, including lung, colon, rectal, stomach, and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma,” adds Dr. Walfish. Ways to combat work-related stress include physical activity. Commit to exercising, at least 30 minutes a day. This can be a brisk walk during your lunch hour, or as part of your commute home. It also helps to turn off the gossip machine. Avoid buying into or adding to negative feelings at work by discussing the situation with co-workers. Instead, discuss your feelings, calmly, and powerfully, with your boss.


Type of stress: Parenting


Stress and parenting go together, in fact, the American Psychological Association even has an index for it. Whether you’re worrying that your baby isn’t hitting his or her milestones, are scared that your teen is dabbling in drugs, or feel concern that your college grad is spending too much time texting, and not enough time looking for work, parental stress can be all-pervasive, eliminating your ability to enjoy your own life.

You’re never going to stop worrying about your kids completely, but one way to reduce the impact of parental stress is through healthy habits. “The best way to deal with parental stress, and all types of stress, is to follow a holistic lifestyle. Healing stress occurs from inside. Cleansing the mind of rubbish emotions gathered during stress is a must to recover,” says Aditi G Jha, MD, of JustDoc.com. Dr. Jha recommends exercise, meditation, and eating healthy food. “Sleep is an essential, non-negotiable aspect to stress reduction. A proper night’s sleep is a must, for the body to replenish energy, and function optimally. When the body is happy, the mind is certainly happy,” she adds. Make sure to avoid these ways to reduce stress that can backfire.


Type of stress: Urban living


A study done at the Douglas Mental Health University Institute indicates that the travails of city life are associated with a greater, overall lifetime risk for mood disorders and anxiety. According to the study, the sounds, smells, and experience of urban living impacts significantly upon the amygdala and cingulate cortex—two areas of the brain tasked with regulating emotion and stress. Moving to more rural surroundings is one way to cope, but another, more practical solution may be allowing your brain to take a much-needed vacation, daily, through meditation.

“Practices that train us to tune into these expressions of stress, such as mindfulness meditation, offer a way to effectively manage stress,” says Jason Thomas, LEP, an educational psychologist, and meditation teacher at Evenflow Meditation. “This training gives us a greater capacity to be compassionately aware of our thoughts, emotions, body sensations, and behaviors as they are happening. With this compassionate awareness, we give ourselves an opportunity to step out of the stress cycle and regain a sense of emotional balance.”


Type of stress: Childhood trauma


The types include sexual abuse, natural disasters, war, and automobile crashes. It can result in lifelong consequences, including an inability to regulate emotion, difficulty focusing, memory problems, and chronic stress. Attempting to manage the stress of childhood trauma, ideally, begins in childhood. However, many adults find themselves still grappling with unresolved issues dating back years, or decades. Working with a therapist can help you identify the underlying cause of your stress, plus provide tools for building resilience. Medications, prescribed either long, or short term, can also help. “Chronic stress can be managed with coping strategies, but serious, institutional methods may become necessary,” says Gabriella I. Farkas, MD, PhD, founder of Pearl Behavioral Health & Medicine, and Pearl Medical Publishing. “Medicines like Celexa, Prozac, Sertraline, and Citalopram (to name a few) can be prescribed for symptom reduction, and therapies (including relaxation therapy, psychoanalysis, and cognitive-behavioral therapy) can help analyze the causes of stress, and address possible lifestyle changes to attack the stress at its origin.”

Type of stress: Money woes


If you can’t make the mortgage, save a penny for retirement, or come up with cash to feed your kids, extreme stress is bound to occur. This type of stress can be chronic, resulting in depression, feelings of helplessness, and even heart disease or cancer. Money-related stress is not easy to fix but does respond to positive lifestyle changes. If unemployment is the issue, working with a non-profit employment counselor is a solid, first step. If you have some money in the bank but are living above your means, it can help to analyze your spending habits versus your income, and working with a financial planner, to make adjustments. Be aware of these telltale signs you’re more stressed than you realized.


Type of stress: Life changes


Clearly, huge events such as the death of a spouse, personal injury or illness, and divorce, can trigger stress. But even seemingly minor events, such as moving or getting a traffic ticket can exacerbate stress levels. The American Institute of Stress lists these and other life events as contributors to stress, and they can all add up to a significant impact on your anxiety levels.

While it’s true that dealing with all types of stress is part of life, recognizing just how stressed out you are, and why, can be a good first step in coping. You may not be able to change your stress-causing reality, but dealing with it is within your grasp. Having solid relationships can help. Making sure to cultivate and maintain friendships can greatly help reduce stress, by supplying a sympathetic platform for talking it out.

Engaging in fun activities is also important. Do what you enjoy, whether it’s a day trip, museum excursion, book club discussion, or concert. Just make sure to find activities that get you out of the house, and keep the Netflix binges to a minimum. Outdoor events give you a reason to look your best and focus on something other than the stressor at hand. Now that you know which type of stress you’re suffering from, make sure you know the silents signs that your stress is making you sick.

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The Truth about BMI: Is the Body Mass Index messing with your Mind?

by Cori Rosenthal, LMFT, Mindful Eating Specialist, Meditation Teacher @ Evenflow

THE BODY MASS INDEX (BMI) is an estimated measure of body fat based on weight in relation to height. The problem with this method is that the BMI formula doesn’t take muscle mass into consideration. That means even if you’re as lean as the chicken breast you dine on daily, but have built up a substantial amount of muscle because #fitlife, you might still be categorized as obese — and that’s neither accurate nor fair.


Doctors have used this measure to help guide their patients to better health for decades. Mindfulness-based eating disorder expert, Cori Rosenthal, is sharing the other side of the story of our BMI and offers a more emotionally-balanced way to manage body image.

If you’re in LA, be sure to join Cori and a handful of other mind-body experts at an upcoming event hosted by mindfulness app, Evenflow, where we’ll explore ways to reclaim a mindful relationship with food and your body. Scroll down for details!

What’s The Deal With BMI?
When you go to the doctor, you are weighed to determine your body mass index (BMI) and then immediately divided into one of four categories: underweight, healthy, overweight or obese.

Lambert Adolphe Jacques Quetelet originally developed the BMI formula in the 1830s. The purpose was to determine obesity in the general population and help the government allocate resources. It was never intended as a measure of individual health. It does not take into account proportions of muscle and fat, nor does it account for bone density, age, body type or ethnicity. Because of this, it’s actually possible to be a celebrity and athlete like Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and be labeled as obese.

While I doubt very much Dwayne Johnson is all that bothered by this classification, it can be very different for the general public. This faulty information only feeds into an atmosphere of fatphobia and body shaming that adversely affects us no matter what our size. Even more confusing is that authorities such as the Centers for Disease Control and the National Institute for Health still support the use of the BMI method despite multiple sources questioning its validity.

Why is BMI Problematic?In light of this, it becomes evident that gauging health by your BMI reinforces the diet culture and can be incredibly misleading. When a patient’s BMI is above normal, they are usually given recommendations for a diet. This would make sense if dieting for the purposes of weight loss were an effective solution.

According to statistics from the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA) 95% of dieters will regain their weight within one to five years. For most people, dieting is something they must do repeatedly, so much so that January has been declared national diet month. Unfortunately, chronic dieting has many physical and psychological consequences, even if one does not develop an eating disorder.

Psychologically, studies have shown chronic dieting can cause a preoccupation with food, distractibility and irritability and can lead to overeating and even binging. According to Linda Bacon’s book, Body Respect, when we diet, our bodies read this behavior as if we are experiencing a famine. During times of famine, our bodies naturally slow down for survival and store extra fat as soon as possible. Consequently, dieting becomes one of the biggest determinants of long-term weight gain.

What’s A Better Approach?

As a psychotherapist, mindfulness and mindful-eating educator, my preference is to throw away the scale and focus on tuning into internal cues about when to eat, what to eat and how much to eat. I work with clients to overcome distressing behaviors around food such as obsessive thoughts and binging. For body-image challenges, it is important to become aware of hypercritical self-talk that can undermine one’s self-confidence and self-esteem and can lead to emotional overeating.

Mindfulness, mindful eating and self-compassion are powerful tools to create a healthy relationship with food and your body. Becoming aware of your emotions and offering yourself compassion in the face of difficult emotions and adhering to your internal cues for hunger and satiety can change your relationship with food, your body and yourself.

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Slow Down To Do More: “Why We Should Hit The ‘Panic’ Button” With Ashley Graber and Fab Giovanetti

Hit the panic button. Every time I feel stressed I consciously take a one minute “emergency” meditation. It helps — It really does.

When we want to build muscles in our body, we go to the gym and work out. If we do this consistently, we will see changes in our physique. Being able to PAUSE (“hit the panic button”) is the same way. If we consistently practice using mindfulness tools to help us slow down, we can more easily grab onto them in challenging times. These practices don’t have to be long or involved. They do, however, have to be consistent.

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As a part of my series about “How to Slow Down To Do More” I had the pleasure to interview Fab Giovanetti. Fab is a business mentor, published author, influencer-specialist, best known as the founder of the Health Bloggers Community. Serial startup founder and professional troublemaker, she is obsessed with avocados and helping people making an impact in health and wellness.

Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you to this specific career path?

I mainly did it to create a community that would understand me and share my passion. Little I knew building communities and help them develop would become my whole business model! The drive to help others kept me going really.

According to a 2006 Pew Research Report report, 26% of women and 21% of men feel that they are “always rushed”. Has it always been this way? Can you give a few reasons regarding what you think causes this prevalent feeling of being rushed?

It sounds corny but the online world we live in is seriously impacting the way we live our lives and we go about our days. Most of us, regardless of whether we are millennials or not, are relying on our phones and laptops when it comes to our daily tasks and appointments, our reminders and news updates. No wonder we feel frazzled!

Based on your experience or research can you explain why being rushed can harm our productivity, health, and happiness?

It’s pretty simple, if you ask me: multi tasking does not equal being more productive. Single focus is more efficient, not just when it comes to the energy we are putting into something, but also with regards to the way we perform. It can take up to 45 mins to gain full attention after we get distracted by, let’s say, a notification. That says a lot.

On the flip side, can you give examples of how we can do more, and how our lives would improve if we could slow down?

Slowing down instantly makes us more aware of what is around us, which also helps us focusing on the good around us. Never underestimate the power of gratitude! Also slowing down means we consciously prioritize, and prioritization is one of the key practices within essentialism.

We all live in a world with many deadlines and incessant demands for our time and attention. That inevitably makes us feel rushed. Can you share with our readers 6 strategies that you use to “slow down to do more”? Can you please give a story or example for each?

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  1. Hit the panic button — every time I feel stressed I consciously take a one minute “emergency” meditation

  2. Write your todo list on paper — if you feel you have a lot to do, transfer all of your tasks on paper, it will help you choose the most important tasks

  3. Set an autoresponder — you are feeling overwhelmed with your emails, autoresponders can help set people’s expectations

  4. Have a day off — have a day where you consciously make sure you do not check emails, and even your phone. I do this every week and truly makes me feel recharged

  5. Start your morning right with half an hour without looking at any screen — I love starting my morning with a cup of tea, meditation and journaling. Starting my day slow really helps me to set the day

  6. Set timers for yourself — a small exercise is to test the Pomodoro technique and set timers for yourself, and every 25 minutes take a five minute break

How do you define “mindfulness”? Can you give an example or story?

Mindfulness is the capacity to be in the moment when doing a specific activity. My favorite mindfulness example is the washing the dishes one. Have you ever set yourself to wash up the dishes and put a Podcast on in the background? When you are washing the dishes, just wash the dishes. When you are eating, just eat.

Can you give examples of how people can integrate mindfulness into their everyday lives?

With so many meditation apps at our fingertips, I think those are incredibly useful for commuters, or people looking to be more aware in their everyday life. How many time do we walk with the purpose of walking, looking at what’s around us?

Do you have any mindfulness tools that you find most helpful at work?

My notebook really helps me get focused — I find that if I am always flicking through tabs and screens being able to just look at my notebook and draft ideas there centers me and allows me to reset.

What are your favorite books, podcasts, or resources that inspire you to use mindfulness tools or practices

I love the new collaboration between Headspace and Nike Running app. Being able to run whilst having a meditation session really changes the way you experience mindfulness and body and mind feel truly connected. It completely changed the way I run.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Let it go and surrender” Stop controlling everything! Doing more and rushing everywhere shows a tendency to wanting to control everything. Being able to let go and stop wanting to do everything creates more time for what really matters.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

Allowing people to reclaim their day off by using techniques to be more efficient and stop feeling guilty about reclaiming be time for themselves. A silent revolution, but one that needs to be talked about!

Thank you so much for these insights! This was so inspiring!

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