The Experience of Stress

Sometimes, it seems there is so much going on, that it’s challenging to know if you are effectively handling your stress. Jill Kirby resonates with this. When asked about the stressors in her life, it was clear that making sure others got some attention is a huge one. Kirby teaches classes  on business communication and public speaking at Roosevelt University, where she is a lecturer. In addition to the attention she gives to her students, she also has five children (and a husband), ages ranging from six to seventeen (not including the husband).  And it was evident from her response that humor is a huge strategy to help her. (She mentioned that “The way I deal with it is I do a lot of drugs. Just kidding.)  While she admits that she still feels stressed, when she “feels like crying, I find something to laugh about and then share it on Facebook. People love misery and then you feel the support from everyone that can relate.” In essence, Kirby utilizes two well researched stress reducers: laughter and support.

Laughter helps release certain stress fighting chemicals that may help one relax, restore and reduce the effects of distressing chemicals. And support, well, Kirby provided the key point: When others can relate, it helps to reduce our sense of feeling we are the only person dealing with this.  We recognize that we are not alone and that others share in some of our experience. We feel heard and cared for.

Interestingly, while Kirby confesses, “I guess I don’t deal with it (stress) well”, she utilizes approaches that provide her an opportunity to manage the demands and pressures externally (support and laughter) and internally: writing. Kirby acknowledges that writing helps a lot and there is some evidence that supports that writing what’s on your mind can help with reducing and/or managing the effects of what’s bothering you. Whether it be a reflection or a factual narrative of the experience, the idea of putting it on paper can shift one’s perspective.

How can writing, support and/or humor help you?


To learn more about Kirby, click here.

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    Dr. Serena Wadhwa

    Serena Wadhwa, Psy.D., LCPC, CADC, received her doctorate in Clinical Psychology from ISPP-Chicago, specializing in health psychology. Dr. Wadhwa is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor, has a Master’s in Counseling and is a Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor. She is the Director of TriQual Living Center (, providing education and therapy on addiction/recovery and chronic stress, burnout and compassion fatigue. She provides individual therapy at the Alexian Brothers Behavioral Health Hospital Outpatient Group Practice and is an assistant professor/program coordinator at Governors State University, as well as adjunct faculty at a couple community colleges. Dr. Wadhwa works in a variety of roles as a consultant, presenter, trainer, lecturer, author, and contributor to ChicagoNow. She has presented on various topics in the Midwest and published various articles on topics relating to stress, addiction, and health. She also develops activities for a variety of psycho-educational lectures, and has several published. She is also a member of several professional organizations. She has a book on "Stress in the Modern World" coming out in 2014 and several e-books this year. Her latest project is an Internet Radio Show, Moving Forward: Wellness One Step at a Time.

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