The Ultimate Stress-Relief Plan for Women

Overview

“So stressed” has to be the most common way women describe themselves today, regardless of age or marital status, career, or family responsibilities. The effects of stress build up over time and destroy your health and sense of well-being—unless you do something to stop them. The Ultimate Stress-Relief Plan for Women can help you to reduce and even reverse the devastating effects of long-term stress on your mind and body.

With information from the medical and psychological ...

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So Stressed: The Ultimate Stress-Relief Plan for Women

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Overview

“So stressed” has to be the most common way women describe themselves today, regardless of age or marital status, career, or family responsibilities. The effects of stress build up over time and destroy your health and sense of well-being—unless you do something to stop them. The Ultimate Stress-Relief Plan for Women can help you to reduce and even reverse the devastating effects of long-term stress on your mind and body.

With information from the medical and psychological sciences that no other practicing physician or clinician has implemented, this landmark new approach to women’s health shows you what stress is doing to every cell in your body, how it disrupts the intricate balance of your body’s systems, and most important what you can do, starting today, to restore your body’s health and prevent yourself from getting sick. Widely sought afterfor their compassionate manner and educational approach, Drs. McClellan and Hamilton have treated more than 16,000 women, and here they present their individualized stress-reduction programs for each of the four different stress-response types, which you can diagnose for yourself based on your unique stress profile. You will learn new ways to see and respond to stress, reduce it and its effects on your body, and even prevent the life-threatening illnesses it causes. Drs. McClellan and Hamilton bridge the gap between the lab bench and the bedside in this comprehensive program for total health.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Every woman who feels that stress is making them sick should read this informative, well-written, and easy-to-understand book to grasp what is happening to their body and how to fight back.” –Library Journal
Publishers Weekly
The first foray into writing from two accomplished gynecologists is all substance but no style. There's a hefty dose of informative, even eye-opening facts about women's health and the negative effect stress has on it. The authors present four stress types based on physical symptoms, and advice targeted at each type. But in the end, there's too much information on too many topics—packaged in the comatose tone of the medical profession. Prescription: take in small doses. (Jan.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781416593591
  • Publisher: Atria Books
  • Publication date: 5/17/2011
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 690,371
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Stephanie McClellan, M.D., and Beth Hamilton, M.D., both educated at USC, are partners in a thriving medical practice specializing in Obstetrics and Gynecology based in Newport Beach, CA. As a team, they are affiliated with Hoag Memorial Presbeterian Hospital in Newport Beach. They have become widely known for their "outpatient hysterectomy" procedure, which is done with laparoscopy, almost no pain, little blood loss, and much faster recovery—2 days to 2 weeks.
Additionally, Dr. McClellan has served as Charman of the Ob/Gyn Dept. and as a consultant to the hospital on women's health for ten years. She helped to coordinate the founding and building of their renowned Women's Health Pavilion. She raised an unprecedented 70 million dollars for that project and her vision shaped the highly regarded women's health center

Stephanie McClellan, M.D., and Beth Hamilton, M.D., both educated at USC, are partners in a thriving medical practice specializing in Obstetrics and Gynecology based in Newport Beach, CA. As a team, they are affiliated with Hoag Memorial Presbeterian Hospital in Newport Beach. They have become widely known for their "outpatient hysterectomy" procedure, which is done with laparoscopy, almost no pain, little blood loss, and much faster recovery—2 days to 2 weeks.

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Read an Excerpt

INTRODUCTION
WHY ARE WOMENSO STRESSED?

With all that is going on in the world, it’s no wonder that we are experiencing a stress epidemic. It’s time to learn about the toll that stress takes on your well-being. Research has shown that the effects of stress are more extreme for women than for men: women release more of the chemical triggers for stress, and these hormones remain longer in a woman’s body than a man’s. Female hormones directly influence your response to stress. Women also appear to be more susceptible to the physical symptoms of stress due to gender differences in brain processing, which we will explain later. As a result of these biological differences, women tend to be more sensitive to stress, and the stress response lasts longer in the female body than in the male.

MULTITASKING YOUR WAY TO EXHAUSTION

Even though women are biologically equipped to do many things at once, we never seem to have enough time to do all that we need to do. Our brains are actually hardwired to enable us to multitask, so, because we’re good at it, we push the envelope and try to do more, thinking we can handle just one more thing. But whenever we try to do too much—and what woman doesn’t—we create a nagging sense of urgency and the feeling that we will never catch up. We race from one activity or chore to another, stretching ourselves to the limit, rarely taking time to relax. Women are also conditioned to be responsive to others’ well-being and to try to please. This nurturing tendency makes us susceptible to higher stress levels when we take on too much and find ourselves on overload.

Most women have numerous roles and are expected to assume all or some of the following:

Wife Chauffeur
Mother Tutor
Daughter Mediator
Health care provider for a parent party planner
Life coach
Sister Volunteer
Friend Interior decorator
Employee Hair stylist
Household manager Dog walker and trainer
Cook/nutritionist Nurse
Personal shopper Laundress
Crisis manager Fitness and nutrition advocate
Cheerleader Financial manager/bill payer
Social director Gardener
Housekeeper

Some believe that the greatest contributor to the epidemic of stress among women now is that they are working outside the home in record numbers. At the turn of the twentieth century, only 12 percent of women were paid a salary for their work; today, we comprise 46 percent of the workforce. Seventy percent of mothers with children under the age of eighteen now work. Either raising children or working requires much more than half our attention, on top of which working women still have primary responsibility for child care and household chores. A worldwide survey of women between the ages of thirteen and sixty-five found that women who work full-time and have children under the age of thirteen report the greatest stress.

Working mothers can become stressed because they feel guilty for leaving their children. Yet women who choose to stay home to raise their children often feel isolated and stressed because they are not contributing financially. Their husbands often have to work long hours as the sole income earner, which can also become a source of friction. And married women who have not worked outside the home or who are widowed or lose their financial security after a divorce have multiple financial stresses and usually a marked decline in their quality of life.

A recent American Psychological Association Poll (2007) found that 48 percent of Americans say they are more stressed now than they were five years ago. Money and work top the list of what 75 percent of Americans worry about, a big leap from 59 percent two years earlier. And that poll was taken before the global financial crisis of fall 2008. The impact of this constant stress is staggering:

  • Forty-four percent of all adults suffer adverse health effects from stress.
  • Ninety-five percent of all office visits to physicians are for stress-related ailments.
  • Stress is linked to the six leading causes of death: heart disease, cancer, lung ailments, accidents, liver disease, and suicide.

Two kinds of stresses are at work on all of us every day—chronic and acute. Chronic stress is long-term, unrelenting, and seemingly inescapable; it wears down your body, mind, and spirit. Acute stresses—life’s traumatic events and most-challenging situations—can also send your stress levels off the charts.

THE TWO BASIC RESPONSES TO CHRONIC STRESS

After caring for thousands of patients at OC Gyn, we have seen that women have two basic responses to stress—hyperactive and hypoactive. With a hyperactive stress response, you’re frantically trying to wrestle with everything that’s troubling you at once; a hypoactive stress response is when you are too drained to deal with even the most-pressing problems. Of course, the line between hyperactive and hypoactive is a dynamic one, and patients’ symptoms can vary in different situations; often, they move somewhere along the scale between the two. Wherever you are on the continuum of hyperactive stress response or hypoactive stress response, you’re not feeling well.

The two basic stress responses break down into four types of stress-caused imbalance that can vary in degree from mild to extreme. Each type displays its own symptoms and each has particular tendencies to develop certain diseases. Specific diet, exercise, and relaxation techniques create physiological effects that bring the body closer to balance. The point from which you start is what matters. Different imbalances respond to type-specific relaxation techniques and diet and exercise tailored to the individual.

Today, most people expect and sometimes demand that doctors help them by prescribing a pill that will make them feel better. But at OC Gyn, we do not pull out the prescription pad quite so readily. We prefer to educate our patients about the consequences of long-term stress and then to develop individualized stress-relief programs that address their imbalance.

The four type-specific programs for diffusing stress that we’ve devised are far more powerful than any pill available, and their side effects are beneficial. By learning how to defuse stress in a way that works for you, you can take control of your health and prevent more serious diseases from developing. If you already have an illness, reducing stress will help your body deal with the illness and help you heal.

First, we tell you what stress looks like, its outward signs, and give you a sense of how it affects your behavior, emotions, and health. In chapter 2, “The Psychology of Stress,” we explore how your perceptions of stress and certain patterns of thinking often evoke the stress response. Then, in chapter 3, we describe “the anatomy of stress” and how your body is wired to respond. We help you determine which of the four types of stress response is your type and show you how to alleviate your stress using healthy, sustainable techniques.

We’ll examine the negative effects of stress, including the complaints we hear most often and the conditions we see—weight gain, fatigue, chronic pain, cardiovascular disease, and metabolic syndrome, a group of risk factors that include weight gain around the abdomen, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and a high inflammatory response. We’ll show you how to combat these and more in part 2, “The Stress-Detox Programs,” in which we describe the anatomy of relaxation, methods for changing your psychological and physiological response to potentially stressful situations, with specific recommendations about diet, exercise, and relaxation techniques to help you avoid the negative effects of stress or to reverse any harm that has already been done. We provide you with a Stress Program Log that you can use to record your commitment and progress in these areas. We also suggest you keep a Stress Journal as you read through the book to keep track of the information that relates specifically to you. With the simple, scientifically based methods explained in “The Stress Detox Programs,” you deal effectively with the way your body responds to stress.

Once you understand what out-of-control stress does to you, we hope that you will be inspired to trust in your own power to withstand it and to make choices in your life that will promote your good health, resilience, and pleasure.

© 2010 Stephanie McClellan and Beth Hamilton

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Table of Contents

Authors' Note: Standing in the Gap (Or Why We Are Writing This Book) xi

Introduction: Why Are Women So Stressed? xix

Part 1 Identify Your Stress Type

Chapter 1 How Stress Looks 3

Chapter 2 The Psychology of Stress 13

Chapter 3 The Anatomy of Stress 41

Chapter 4 Identify Your Type: The Four Stress-Response Patterns 63

Part 2 The Stress-Detox Programs

Chapter 5 The Foundations of Stress Relief: Relaxation, Restorative Sleep, and Natural Rhythms 91

Chapter 6 Nutrition 122

Chapter 7 Exercise 168

Chapter 8 Restoration: Techniques to De-stress 197

Chapter 9 The Stress-Detox Program for Your Type 237

Afterword 267

Selected Bibliography 269

Acknowledgments 298

Index 301

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