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Food & Living

Local author details stress control


Tuesday February 22, 2011
Bob Wojcieszak


CHARLESTON, W.Va.--Telling yourself not to worry is of no use, a local expert on stress said during a presentation to the Charleston Rotary Club Monday.

Instead, author Aila Accad said anyone feeling the pangs of stress should focus on what they want to happen rather than trying to resist external factors that they cannot control.


Aila Accad presents her stress-busting techniques to the Charleston Rotary Club Monday afternoon at the Charleston Civic Center. "What you resist persists," said Accad. "When we push against something, it tends to push back." People should let go of resistance and move their energy and focus to push for what they want, rather than fight things they cannot control, she said.


"When we push against something, it tends to push back," she said. "Have the vision of what you want, and focus all your energy on getting there."

When she learned in nursing school that 85 percent of all illnesses are caused by stress, Accad said she set about trying to learn all she could about how to help people cope with its effects.

In her lecture, she explained why people are stressed, why "stress management" is flawed and demonstrated her new method to approaching stress.

Accad had been working as a stress counselor for 10 years before she decided that stress management doesn't help get rid of stress.

"One day I found myself on the sofa. I had a cover on my head, and I just wanted to disappear for three months and start over," she said. "It didn't make any sense to me. I said to myself, 'I know better!'"

At the time, she was raising two young children, caring for her ailing mother and running a home-based business. She compares the buildup of stress to a frog in a pot of heating water: it heats up so gradually, the frog fails to notice and it doesn't occur to him to jump out.

"We think we are managing it, when suddenly your mind and body say, 'enough,'" she said. "Stress management tells you it's no use worrying. Does that help? No. (It) was like moving the deck chairs around on the Titanic."

Accad learned from that stressful experience that intellect and logic couldn't fix the situation.

"Your emotions are so much more powerful than logic," she said. "Those of us who think we can think ourselves out of the situation have it the worst."

The desire to be in absolute control is where the path to worry begins.

"You have total control over yourself, and you have no control over everything outside of you," she said.

The three things people cannot control are time (such as worrying about the past or the future), nature (aging, diseases and weather) and other people.

"How often do we think to ourselves, 'If only they would change, things would be so much better?'" she said. "How many of us are putting our time and energy trying to fix these situations, when they're not really in (our) hands?"




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Aila Accad presents her stress-busting techniques to the Charleston Rotary Club Monday afternoon at the Charleston Civic Center. "What you resist persists," said Accad. "When we push against something, it tends to push back." People should let go of resistance and move their energy and focus to push for what they want, rather than fight things they cannot control, she said.

The conditioned response to stress is fight or flight - neither of which will help in a moment of stress, she said.

And flight is not a solution either. "Giving up is not letting go," she said, adding that this makes one feel even more defeated.

Accad's solution is letting go - not to let go of the stress, but rather to release the resistance to stress. Trying to push stress away drains energy.

Her first tip is to smile. "The minute you smile, your brain begins to create endorphins."

Other tips include deep breathing, stretching and listening to energizing music. All of these tips focus on keeping energy moving throughout the body.

She also demonstrated her Emotional Freedom Technique, a process of rhythmic tapping at certain body points to reduce the stresses of an emotional situation or physical pain.

First, she identifies what the stressor is, then rates it on a scale from 1 to 10 of how stressful it is. She then rhythmically taps the side of her hand below the pinky, saying the phrase, "Even though I am (identify the issue specifically), I deeply and profoundly accept myself."

This continues as she taps several other pressure points: the top of her head at the soft part of the skull, in between the eyes, the temple, below the eye where the bone begins, under the nose, the chin grove, the collarbone and on the side under the arm.

At the end, she reassesses the issue on the 1 to 10 scale. Often, the number has lowered by then.

Accad lives by her book daily and it has had a profound impact on her life, she said.

Though she is in her early 60s, she exercises frequently and eats very nutritious food. She said she has the energy of a much younger person and lives a stress-free life.

"If you're miserable, why would you want to live to 120?" she said.

Contact writer Catherine Caudill at
catherine.caud...@dailymail.com or 304-348-4886


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