“I never thought I’d write a book on stress,” Dr. Stephanie McClellan explained to the room full of women in a Harbor View Homes clubhouse recently. “I really fell into this book because of what I was doing at the Women’s Health Pavilion, which was an outgrowth of my practice. Stress is clearly at the root of many of the physical problems we see and treat.”
McClellan wrote the book “So Stressed – The Ultimate Stress-Relief Plan For Women” along with Dr. Beth Hamilton. The doctors were partners in an innovative practice specializing in gynecology and women’s health, based in Newport. They have treated thousands of women, many of whom come from all over the United States and as far away as Asia and Europe. The two doctors wrote the book to help women understand what stress does to their bodies and to suggest how they can make the changes necessary to improving their health.
McClellan explained that besides the accepted connection between stress and high blood pressure and heart disease, they also found links between stress and other diseases and disorders such as chronic pain, weight gain or loss, sleeping problems, allergies, acne, depression, decreased libido and impaired immune systems. She also said that women appear to be more susceptible to the physical symptoms of stress than men because of the biological differences in brain processing.
“God designed and created the universe. For any creature to survive, it must accurately perceive and respond to its environment,” McClellan said. “We need to look at the way God designed us. Our brains are the most amazing organs, and the most important organ, but the brain is the least studied and that’s why we are so confused today. Our brains are designed to be social; God designed us to be in community, with Him and with others. Unfortunately we’ve become so mobile in the way we eat, communicate and live. We need time for friendships; healthy friendships are so powerful, especially for women. They contribute to our joy.”
Positive friendships were among many things that contribute to lessening stress and improving health. Three other important activities included healthy eating, especially breakfast; exercise; and replacing negative thought patterns through prayer, meditation, journaling, listening to favorite music, and relaxation techniques.
Newport resident Lisa Delaney appreciated the opportunity to hear McClellan.
“Dr. McClellan was so interesting and rich in thought-provoking ideas,” Lisa said. “It was also a lovely reminder of just how amazing God’s intelligent design of us really is.
She gave us so much food for thought about the way we are living today. I liked how she emphasized that friendships are not a luxury, but a fundamental part of how God designed women to be. She explained that we need to make the effort to have face-to-face communication, or even person-to-person on the phone instead of just emailing. That’s the only way we really catch the important nuances of communication. I wish every woman had a chance to step back and learn about stress and what it does to us. It would be so helpful and make such a difference in the daily lifestyle choices women make.”
Pam Emery was also excited about everything she learned that evening.
“I found myself replaying many subjects from the talk in my mind as well as sharing them with other women that I love,” Pam explained. “Being a woman of scientific background, I was pleased by her expression of many God-designed systems in women. I was very fascinated by how our stress makes us more vulnerable to certain illnesses and imbalances. A talk like that makes God so big and clever and me so thankful that He made me with a brain to use and learn more each day about the magnitude of what He has offered us. I am also a firm believer in the healing salve of other women’s closeness and love as a large component of my growth and healing.”
McClellan ran out of time long before she ran out of topics, but she left the women with help and hope.
“If you can understand your stress type and what triggers the stress, you can make positive changes,” she said. “You can move yourself to optimism. Your brain is such a gift; how you think and what you choose to think can create new pathways. Your brain and body are in close contact. There are steps to take to feel your best.”
“So Stressed’ is available at Barnes and Noble or Amazon.com. Dr. McClellan will be speaking at Library Live! at the Newport Beach Public Library on Tuesday, Nov. 1.
Cindy can be reached at [email protected].