All Stress Begins with our Thoughts

All Stress Begins with our Thoughts

By: Dr. Mike Olpin All stress begins with a thought. It isn’t what’s happening “out there” that initiates the stress response. It’s how we interpret what’s happening “out there” that causes us to become stressed or not. We call this a perception of a threat. If we think this situation will lead to some kind of pain (emotional, mental, spiritual, or physical), we turn on the stress response automatically to prepare for the potential pain. The potential pain is what we call a “threat.” Prevention of stress, then, is best done by focusing on our thoughts, by changing how we think about those things we think are threatening. (more…)...
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Life Can Be Simple

By: Dr. Mike Olpin Life really is quite simple:  Focus on the moments; learn from our past, and do things today that will benefit our future.  So, I ask you: What are you doing this very moment to honor these three things? Do you feel like you can focus on each moment, being present and mindful?  Have you allowed yourself to heal and grow from your past (even from just a minute ago)?  And, are you actively preparing yourself to have a better tomorrow? Life really is that simple. If life is so simple, why do we tend to make it so complicated? … As I was contemplating this, I was reminded of some basic philosophies and behaviors that can bring us back to simplicity (if we choose it). In my training to become a yoga instructor, we spent an entire weekend discussing Patanjali’s Eight Limbs of Yoga, which describes eight ways that we can live a meaningful and purposeful life (1)– including mindfulness, meditation,...
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Boost Metabolism While You Sleep

By: SMP StaffRemember in biology class when you learned about the parts of the cell and you wondered why you had to know this stuff? Really, when would you ever use this information in real life? Well here it is.Inside of the cell is the “powerhouse,” organelle known as the mitochondria. Mitochondria produce the energy that a cell needs to perform its functions; divide, move, etc. In cells that are not required to do very much work,(such as an unfit muscle cell), there is one, wimpy mitochondria. It doesn’t provide much energy. It just hangs around, bored and out of shape. To make matters worse, the fuel lines (arteries and capillaries) to these kinds of cells are usually out of shape, plaque ridden, and few and far between. These conditions lead to some lonely, bored, and depressed mitochondria.Then one day, the woman in whose body these cells reside decides to get up and move a bit. Let’s call her Suzy....
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Managing the Waves and Leaks in Time

Managing the Waves and Leaks in Time

By: Dr. Mike Olpin When I was fourteen years old, I went to California with a group of kids my age. We went to Santa Monica Beach to see the ocean. None of us had been there before so this was a real treat for us. When we got there, we decided to try bodysurfing. We saw others doing it and it looked fun and much less difficult than regular surfing. Soon we learned how it was done and found ourselves out in the water preparing for the waves to come our way. When a large wave approached, I started swimming as hard as I could, hoping to time it perfectly. I found myself riding the wave in toward the shore. Suddenly, the wave pulled me down, headfirst into the sand under the water. (more…)...
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Parable of the Stacked Stones

Parable of the Stacked Stones

By: Dr. Mike Olpin I love to bike, hike, and run in the hills and mountains of northern and southern Utah. I love the workout of going up. I love the thrill and speed of coming down. Best of all, I love the views I get when I reach the tops of the trails. I particularly enjoy one trail that happens to be located only a few short minutes from where I live. Within minutes from home, I can find myself on a path where it immediately feels like no city exists anywhere nearby. I disappear into undeveloped terrain. As I ride, walk, or run along this trail, I head to the top that is only about 3 miles up the hill. However, it is a rise in elevation of about 1000 feet. It is a terrific workout by bike or on foot. Even more wonderful is the adventure I get each time I travel up the hill. The journey is varied and changing. On occasion,...
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Boost Metabolism While You Sleep

Remember in biology class when you learned about the parts of the cell and you wondered why you had to know this stuff? Really, when would you ever use this information in real life? Well here it is. But wait, there's more...
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Stress or Frustration – What’s the Difference?

Stress or Frustration – What’s the Difference?

By: Dr. Mike OlpinA student of my stress management class asked me this excellent question: What's the difference between stress and being frustrated? or is there one? I still kind of feel like they're different things. For example, I'll feel frustrated or irritated that things aren't going the way I'd like them to in an aspect of my life, or if I feel like I did something I wish I wouldn't have. But when I visualize stress, I feel it's more like when I'm rushed or under pressure to do something while meeting certain criteria, or maybe if I don't know what to do in a situation. Any thoughts or advice on clarifying things? Here's my response:That's a very interesting question. I'll try to explain my understanding of the differences between the two the best I can.What I think you're wondering about are two different things: Stress and Frustration.SaveSaveSaveSaveSaveFrustration is a feeling combined with a set of thoughts about something. Events happen, you...
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Panic Attacks vs. Stress

Recently, I received an email from a participant of a recent workshop. Her question to me is first, followed by my answer: Hi Dr. Olpin, I really enjoyed the presentation you gave a few weeks ago. I had a couple of questions that I was not comfortable asking in a group setting and I thought I would see if yo u could answer them for me. For the past 20 years or so I have suffered from acute panic attacks.Some are triggered by stress and situations, but sometimes they can wake me out of a sound sleep for no apparent reason.  Sometimes they will make me physically ill and leave me exhausted for days. Over the last year or so they have gotten worse and more frequent. I have also have more constant generalized anxiety. It has really affected my life and limited the things I am able to do.  My question is do you think panic disorder can be controlled the same...
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A letter to a stressed out student who returned from an LDS mission

I wrote this letter recently to a student who told me he was struggling with stress while serving as a missionary for the LDS church. This was my reply: It's interesting that you wanted to know about missionary stress. I'm actually writing a book/workbook for a mission in Michigan who wanted some help for their missionaries. And I also have a son who is in Santiago, Chile, on his mission, and is experiencing some stressful times. The reason I say this is just to let you know that what you're going through isn't unusual, nor is it unique to you.  (more…)...
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The Best Medication for a Stress Headache? Meditation

By: Dr. Mike OlpinIt’s true; the best medication for a stress headache seems to be meditation.In a new study from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, people who meditated for just 20 minutes a day saw their pain tolerance rise in 4 days. Volunteers learned an ultra-easy technique called mindfulness meditation that teaches you to focus on your breath and stay in the present moment, not worry about what's ahead. Researchers tested the volunteers' pain thresholds with mild electric shocks and found that shocks considered "high pain" before meditating felt mild afterward. Volunteers who didn't learn the meditation had unchanged responses to the shocks. (No, we can't imagine why anyone volunteered for this, though we're grateful that they did.)1This is great news because about 30%-80% of the adult U.S. population suffer from an occasional tension, or stress headache. Approximately 3% of those suffer from chronic daily tension headaches. Women are twice as likely to suffer from tension-type headaches as...
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