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39 / How To Master Stress & The Effects On The Mind & Body w/ Dr. Heidi Hanna

We all feel stressed sometimes. For some of us, it may feel like we’re stressed-out all the time. Stress can certainly feel like a constant weight on your shoulders with no reprieve. However, in the right circumstances, it can be used as a tool for success! Today’s guest Dr. Heidi Hanna’s specialty is stress and she will show us how we can learn to fall in love with it and use it to help and not hinder us.

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She is an integrative neuroscience researcher and the executive director of the American Institute of Stress. Dr. Hanna has trained thousands of people in practical ways to incorporate nutrition, exercise, and positive psychology strategies to improve their health, productivity, and performance. As such, she’s working hard to understand the role of chronic stress on the brain and on our overall health.

Dr. Hanna discusses how to learn to master stress as opposed to simply managing it. Stress can actually be a helpful tool for creating positive change. She tells us the difference between acute and chronic stress and the ways they affect our whole body and mind. Breaking down just how stress plays around with your brain chemistry, Dr. Hanna sheds a lot of light on this important topic. Throughout this interview, you’ll hear Dr. Hanna’s techniques to getting a better handle on the stress we all inevitably encounter.

Have you taken steps to become the master of your own stress? What helped and what didn’t? Leave a comment below!

In this episode:

  • The many ways that chronic stress affects your brain and your body
  • How to recognize the common symptoms of stress
  • What’s going on in the different parts of our brains when we are under stress
  • How we can shift our thinking away from being purely reactive to stress and towards mindful responses through physical activity and sensory stimulation
  • The role that technology can play in helping us master our stress and its limitations
  • How to know if your stress is having a positive or negative impact
  • Tips for teaching your child about stress


“Stress is really just a challenge, it’s a stimulus for growth, it’s something that we need. But there’s a big difference between that intentional acute short-term stress and what most of us deal with every day — the nagging, chronic, ‘I just don’t have enough time’ kind of stress.” [2:37]

“It’s just like training our physical body — we want our muscles to work well to help us do what we want to do. So it’s important with the brain to do the same, to really intentionally train what we want and to be careful that we’re not accidentally training what we don’t want.” [13:39]

“I think it’s important to really understand what your makeup is, what your intentions are, how do you want to show up. Then you can intentionally use that high energy activation stress and adrenaline as something positive to fuel performance as long as you build-in adequate recovery.” [21:31]

“When we do feel stress or overwhelmed, or whatever is going on, I think it’s really important to lean into that and see that it’s an opportunity for us to learn and make an adjustment.” [31:00]


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American Institute of Stress


Watch Dr. Hanna’s TedX talk

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