At the end of 2022, NPR launched a series that explored the topic of anxiety, specifically as it related to the pandemic, political unrest, and ongoing economic uncertainty. Dr. Elissa Epel, author of the book The Stress Prescription, which had recently been published, was one of the first guests on the show.
I happened to hear Dr. Epel on the radio late one December evening while driving. In the flurry of the holiday, I found her talk on stress so compelling that I had to pull off to the side of the road and capture some of her key ideas.
The director of the Aging, Metabolism, and Emotions (AME) Center at the University of California San Francisco, Dr. Epel is not only an expert on stress, aging, and well-being, her work also focuses on climate wellness as it relates to these topics. On NPR, she spoke about a collective “energy crisis” and noted how stress, although very useful and adaptive, can drain our battery, especially when it is chronic stress.
The problem, as she sees it, is that our stress response is constantly on, without sufficient time in a “deep rest” mode where the body can truly recover. Synthesizing a large body of research, she emphasized the need to be proactive in order to recharge. Her seven-day program offers a new skill each day as the reader engages with practices and builds habits.
The practical wisdom Dr. Epel references clearly aligns with the field of positive psychology and its evidence-based strategies and interventions. Upon reading The Stress Prescription shortly after I heard the interview, I was delighted to find that SPIRE, WBI’s whole-person well-being model, was indeed featured in the book. In her discussion of stress resilience in the final chapter, Dr. Epel cites the SPIRE model and its ingredients as foundational for building the “infrastructure of long-term happiness.”
As a mental health practitioner, I connected both personally and professionally with Dr. Epel’s message regarding the importance of using accessible and effective strategies to promote healthier stress responses and greater resilience. During the past few years, we have all faced a lot of uncertainty, which can trigger our stress response. This has led to increased awareness regarding the need for support for mental health and well-being. The WBI/JCC Positive Psychology Hour was born in 2020 as a forum to share ways to do just that.
In a nutshell: To counter the impact, of stress, we can focus on aspects of our lives that are within our control. The Stress Prescription offers insight and science-based techniques that we can all add to our toolkits.
Join Phoebe for the online Positive Psychology Hour on Tuesday, February 28, at 12:00 pm ET to examine Dr. Epel’s stress prescription through the lens of SPIRE, and explore how we can incorporate daily practices to help lower our stress and boost our health and well-being. Register now.
Phoebe Atkinson is a faculty member for WBI’s Positive Psychology Coaching Certification and Certificate in Wholebeing Positive Psychology (CiWPP). A CiWPP graduate and a Professional Certified Coach (PCC) certified by the International Coaching Federation (ICF), she is also a licensed clinical social worker and board-certified trainer, educator, and practitioner in psychodrama, sociometry, and group psychotherapy. Phoebe co-teaches the Positive Psychology: Skill-Building Intensive course and leads the Positive Psychology Coaching Mentorship. She was the curator for the WBI/JCC Positive Psychology Hour from 2020–2022.
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