USCG Specific


by award-winning stress-relief expert Susie Mantell (author: "Your Present: A Half-Hour of Peace")
NOTE: Enjoy more of Susie's FREE stress tips or "Ask Susie.." your own stress questions at

Dear Friends at,

Being unwell is one of life's greatest fears and most stressful experiences. Illness and injury can be frightening, puzzling and create secondary anxiety, as can their therapies and costs. So whether a suggestion comes from an internist or acupuncturist... surgeon or shaman, we can greatly reduce health-related stress by becoming active, informed participants in our own health care. Select health-care providers "as if your life depended upon it." In my own case, I sought a skilled, traditionally trained physician, but I also required that (s)he be well-versed in, (and genuinely intrigued by,) healing arts, mind/body practices and integrative approaches to health care. And I will tell was not easy...and it took two years.


I asked every friend and every good doctor I knew, whom THEY go to, trust and respect. Most did not have such a relationship with their physicians. Over time I met with three internists, all fine doctors with excellent credentials and on staff at good hospitals, before I found one who ALSO took time to look into my eyes and listen, answer my questions respectfully and thoughtfully, and communicate genuine care and a sense of who I am, beyond "the sore throat in room 2." Three fine physicians, but I chose one with whom I feel most comfortable. (Incidentally, I also surmised that this was someone with whom my aging parent, who lives nearby, would also feel comfortable. I have always liked the family practitioner model, that allows the doctor to know more about a family, its history and what its needs might be.) The time to explore and develop that relationship is before we need it. Not everyone has the luxury of seeing practitioners out of a managed care network, but the following questions are of value in any health care situation, and partnership in wellness should be a goal of every patient...and every doctor.

It is always wise to consult a health care professional if we have concerns, but bear in mind that a very high percentage of doctor's visits can be traced back to stress-related illness, or illness-related stress, so the more we all know about and practice techniques and strategies for coping with and releasing stress, anger and depression, the fewer office visits become necessary! Often, it is the doctor's job to support and facilitate the body's own remarkable healing capabilities, rather than to do the job from the outside. But whether being seen for headache or heartache...sniffles or cancer, understanding the problem, its treatment, potential benefits and risks, is our personal responsibility. a) Ask questions and make informed choices. b) Then relax, trust the process and observe the effects over time.


Here are some useful questions to ask, (respectfully, of course,) when considering a new practitioner:
  1. How long have you been in practice?
  2. What is your strength and which areas interest you most?
  3. Why did you become a thoracic surgeon? (allergist... therapist, etc.)
  4. Where did you study? (residencies, fellowships, etc.)
  5. What hours are you in, and what's the after-hours procedure in your practice?
  6. What is your greatest satisfaction/frustration in medicine today?
  7. Which healing arts are you familiar with?
  8. With which hospitals are you affiliated?
  9. Do you accept my insurance? What is your billing procedure?
  10. MENTAL NOTE: Did (s)he:
    1. Firmly shake your hand?
    2. Look into your eyes?
    3. Seem friendly and interested?
    4. Put you at ease?
    5. Feel like someone you could talk to if faced with a crisis?

Bring a pen and paper and take some notes. You may forget some of the answers.
  1. What is the specific, intended action of this treatment? (e.g. Increase white cell production to fight infection? Gargle with salt to make a hostile environment for bacteria? Moist heat to release spasm? Ice to reduce inflammation? See? Big difference! Then USE it in your mind/body imagery to support the protocol.)
  2. How long have you been prescribing and monitoring this treatment?
  3. These are all the medications I am presently taking. Are there are contraindications?
  4. What are the most common side-effects and what causes them to occur?
  5. How can I minimize or prevent those side-effects? (e.g. Taken with/without food, not with dairy, only at bedtime, etc.)
  6. May I please have some literature about this treatment?
  7. How and when will I know if this treatment is working?
  8. How can I speak with 2-3 people who have used this treatment?
  9. What other options do I have for this problem?
  10. Can I get financial assistance with this treatment?
  11. What outcome can I realistically hope for as a result?
  12. Are there any serious risks and if so, what are the danger-indicators?
  13. What would you recommend if I were your sister/brother/spouse/child?
  14. How can I reach you with questions if they arise?

A:'ve asked a BIG question, and it would have as many answers as there are people! In fact, even in an individual there will be different dynamics and processes mobilized, depending on their physical and emotional condition, heredity, belief systems, overall health and life circumstances at the time.

So...let me try to offer a general reply: It is now widely accepted that the mind-body (and if you will, spirit) interact in a constant exchange of information. For example, "That's a scary movie!" may generate the Galvanic Skin Response. Maybe sweating, or Goose Bumps. (That's what biofeedback and polygraph tests measure.) Similarly, "I am anxious about my sales presentation," may elicit sweaty palms, shortness of breath or wobbly knees. "Junior took his first step today!" stimulates Dad's tear ducts...but then 16 years later, when Junior is out past his curfew, Pop's cheeks may flush and heart begin to pound. The limbic system is constantly talking...

This complex dialog is ongoing but unconscious for the most part, and the "Fight or Flight" response of the central nervous system whenever we are under stress, (e.g. fear, pain, worry, anger) is mobilized to release stress hormones, increase blood-flow to the large muscle groups, speed respiration, release heat through perspiration, etc., in order to cope with what the body perceives as a "crisis". Now when that crisis is a life-threatening one, this system really works for us! We get what we need in many cases to survive... or to rescue another. However, when the perceived crisis is a slow teller at the bank...or road construction...or a billing error...many of us respond with an over-reaction that initiates this "Emergency" mechanism unnecessarily.

As you might guess, the stress reaction described above drains considerable resources from the rest of the body's work, and often systems like the digestive, endocrine and the immune system are compromised by the over-reaction to stress. The effect is cumulative, as are relaxation practices. Additionally, each of us appears to be equipped with varying numbers of receptors sites for transmitters, as well as a personal history of experiences, world-views, belief systems and the learned behaviors from observing others' coping techniques. They influence our own reactions to stress in its many forms. Overall health self- esteem, quality of relationships, quality of sleep, job satisfaction, all play roles here in the ways in which we handle stress.

Ultimately, we have a very clever system, but do not have endless reserves of energy, and when we appropriate them to "perceived" crises, especially on an ongoing basis, the system becomes depleted and we become more vulnerable to illness, germs, depression, sleeplessness, aches and pains, headache, etc. We have overdrawn the account. That's why creating an assortment of realistic, preventive stress-release techniques and strategies for everyday use is essential. To find some of these tools that might be helpful, see the following pages of my site.
as well as

Until next month, I wish you great health, and at least one brand new dream-- a bright new idea that will bring you even closer to the life you have imagined, ..and above all...peace,
Susie Mantell's award-winning relaxation audio, "Your Present: A Half-Hour of Peace"("BEST AUDIOS"-Publishers Weekly), has been featured in The Los Angeles Times, NBC,ABC,CBS TV, Billboard, Cosmopolitan,, and used in The Mayo Clinic, VA hospital and the U.S. Army (Fort Leonard Wood), for anxiety, depression, sleeplessness; parenting, caregiving & workplace stress. Copyright ©2000 All rights reserved. For permission to reprint call 1-888-NOW-RELAX. Susie Mantell offers support as an adjunct to, but not a substitute for, professional health care.
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