Today we are going to dive more into mental health and look into ways of managing stress. The stress wheel is a tool I use with clients over the years to help them look at different versions of stress in their life. Many people say they are “stressed” but they don’t go as far as to pinpoint where the stress is coming from. This tool helps to break types of stress into categories and help develop practical action steps to develop new patterns.  

One of my favorite sayings is, “You are where you are today because of the patterns you have created.” If you like where you are today, then keep your patterns. If you don’t like where you’re at today, change your patterns.  

The body is an amazing thing.

It can adapt to what is going on around it. The body can adapt to positive and negative situations. This is where most chronic health issues come in. Most chronic diseases are preventable, and they are due to unmanaged stress over long periods of time. Stress management will hopefully help prevent long-term health issues.  

I created the stress wheel to help patients self-assess and improve their health through stress management.  The circle on the outside has four categories to evaluate.  

  1. Physical Stress 
  2. Emotional stress 
  3. Chemical stress 
  4. Spiritual stress 

The goal is to look at each category and rate the current stress state, on a scale of 1-10. If you are at a 10/10 in each category, then you are doing fantastic! You can teach me some things. But maybe you have an 8, 6, 2, and 8. The two is going to cause you trouble. We want to smooth the circle and move the two out in that particular area. 

Let’s look at a couple of the categories this week. I’ll define the type of stress and offer practical suggestions for coping.  

Physical Stress 

There are different kinds of physical stress that can cause issues. 

  • Repetitive injuries – exercise done incorrectly or over exercising. Coping: ramp up exercise at a steady pace. 
  • Postural stress – poor posture at your workstation leading to chronic issues. Coping: create an ergonomic workstation and stretch throughout the day. 
  • Trauma – falls, car accidents. How do you manage these after they happen? Coping: address the physical trauma through chiropractic care or other medical intervention. 
  • Eye strain – looking at screens and computers repetitively. Coping: schedule screen “down time” and take regular breaks throughout the day. Avoid going from working in front of a screen to scrolling through social media or the TV.  
  • Sleep – not getting enough sleep, no sleep routine. Coping: set a sleep schedule and prepare your body for sleep by physically relaxing before bed. 

Emotional stress

If you don’t address this stress, it can lead to physical stress.  

  • Finances – worry or insecurity can lead to stress. Coping: I like to say, “revealing the feeling is emotionally healing.” This tip can be true for all types of emotional stress. Find a trusted person to express your feelings to. Stuffing them will not help you in the long run. Financial planning and budgeting can help relieve the stress.  
  • Sleep – lack of sleep or not getting sounds sleep. Coping: exercise (appropriately) during the day to get your energy out.  
  • Relationships – spending less or more time with certain people. Even spending more time with people you love can be stressful!  Coping: engage your support network and lean on them for emotional support. Learn to say “no” so you aren’t overcommitting. I have a hard time with this one! Do your best to set boundaries and it will decrease stress over time. 
  • Work – changes in work environments, hours, even positive changes can be stressful. Coping: set work boundaries and find a professional support system. 
  • Past experiences – I refer to this as the “bitter bag”, holding on to resentment. Coping: Again “revealing the feeling is emotionally healing.” 

Coming Up Next

Remember, the key to using the stress wheel is: 

  1. Recognizing where your stress lies, and naming it. 
  2. Taking practical actions to help manage stress in the categories that are troublesome. 

If you have any questions, please reach out to me. I love helping people, even beyond the physical ailments. I am here to support you!