I really enjoyed this interview between Dr. Heidi Hanna, host of the Global Stress Summit and guest expert Dr. Susan Peirce Thompson, author of Bright Line Eating: The Science of Living Happy, Thin & Free.
Dr. Heidi Hanna starts by asking what the definition of stress is, first sharing her definition:
What’s so crazy is if you look at that same textbook, depending on who wrote it, you can find a thousand different definitions for what stress actually is. And I think one of the things that you and I also, without knowing, really connect on is this idea that stress is not necessarily bad. My definition of stress is what happens when demand exceeds capacity. So that doesn’t have to be bad.
When we feel like we don’t have the resources we need to adapt appropriately, there’s a tension that exists. And that can actually help us grow. Or it can wear us out.
Dr. Susan likes this definition and I do too: “stress is what happens when demand exceeds capacity.” Dr. Susan goes on to say we actually need stress – all of the meaningful things in life come with stress (success, love, marriage etc.) – and how she can handle high stress because she keeps her support really high:
And I personally prefer to run high stress. I just do. I like activity. I like engagement. I like meaning. I like to stay active. I just do. So I’ve learned that I just need to keep my support really high.
And that makes my days really, really full. I’m an extrovert so I like a lot of human connection. And so for me, staying in touch with my friends on the phone is one of the best ways that I can manage my stress, just process it, process it, process it. Get enough sleep. I eat immaculately.
You put those things together. And you’re good to go. I can shoulder a lot of stress.
Later on in the interview Dr. Susan emphasizes the self-care aspect, to know how much you need and why it should be as automatic as brushing your teeth twice a day:
We all should be taking exquisite care of ourselves. Some of us just don’t get away with it when we don’t though, whether it’s because we’re highly sensitive or because we’re addictive.
For me, the consequences of not taking care of myself are really high. So I get the bounty of, therefore, meditating every morning and hopefully getting a good night’s sleep and having a wonderful support network.
But it’s definitely worth it to know what kind of person you are and to build up your self-care regimen accordingly, for sure.
….You want to be executing your self-care habits like you brush your teeth.
Dr. Susan also covers the stress and sugar addiction connections and how some of us have brains that are susceptible to the addictive pull of sugar and how some of us have brains that are just not affected.
And as a society, we need to understand. Sugar is more addictive than nicotine, more addictive than cocaine.
She shares interesting information about how a third of the population will say “Oh yeah. I don’t think that’s true. I can take a cookie or leave it alone” because that’s the percentage that doesn’t experience that addictive pull at all. And how two-thirds of the population do experience that addictive pull – there are one third who experience it mildly and then the other third find the addictive pull of sugar and carbs to be very severe.
If you’d like to hear more from Dr. Susan Peirce Thompson, tune in to the Global Stress Summit, which is online from April 24 – May1, 2017
Your host, Dr. Heidi Hanna, began her expedition into the world of stress science at the early age of 12 when she began to suffer from debilitating anxiety, depression, and panic attacks. With no medical explanation, she was forced to dive into mind-body research to try to put the puzzle pieces together. In this Global Stress Summit, Dr. Hanna interviews the very pioneering researchers and thought leaders who helped her learn how to utilize stress as a stimulus for growth rather than a trigger for burnout and breakdown, as she passionately encourages us to do the same. Here is the registration link.