Manage Your Stress for Your Best Health

Drug Topics JournalDrug Topics April 2022
Volume 166
Issue 04

A personal medical diagnosis led one pharmacist on a journey of health and healing.

Jennifer Bourgeois, PharmD, is something of an expert on stress. After receiving a diagnosis of chronic Epstein-Barr virus, Bourgeois realized that the headaches and fatigue she had been experiencing were more than just the symptoms of being a working mom.

In a recent episode of Well-being Checkup, Bourgeois sat down with Drug Topics® to chat about the ways in which stress can wreak havoc on both body and mind, and the company she founded—Well & Free, LLC—to help others manage stress in their lives.

Drug Topics®: What inspired you to start your business? Can you share a bit about the journey that you took to get there?

Jennifer Bourgeois, PharmD: [A] personal medical diagnosis got my attention that maybe I wasn’t doing such a great job with my own health.
A few years back, I was diagnosed with chronic Epstein-Barr virus. The extreme fatigue that I tried to write off as normal—because I was a working mom—wasn’t so normal, and it was accompanied with headaches and fatigue, among other symptoms. Once I received the diagnosis, that’s really when I started to get serious and com- mitted to my own well-being. That took me into this new field of functional and integrative medicine, and that’s where I found true healing and was able to identify the root cause of my chronic conditions, which was stress.

I think stress is something that we could talk about all day, especially in the pharmacy and medical commu- nities. Stress is something that’s very real; it’s very palpable for all of us in day-to-day life.

Drug Topics®: Especially in today’s environment, many health care providers can likely relate to the idea of being overscheduled and unable to rest, which I think really can affect chronic stress. So, how can that overpacked schedule negatively impact well-being?

Bourgeois: That’s such a great question. So, what we find is that when we are overscheduled, for most of us, our body perceives that as stress. We all have different triggers of stress; that’s why we say stress can be subjective— it’s the triggers...that’s the subjective part. What causes your body to perceive stress could be different than mine.

But when your body does perceive that stress, there is a physiological response that happens. Oftentimes, when we’re overscheduled, we feel stressed because the demands of what’s hap- pening in our life exceed the resources.

We’ve gotten ourselves into a position [where] we have way too many things to do and not enough time, and our body perceives that as stress. This stress starts this physiological process that happens that literally changes the way our body responds and affects the way that we can rest. Our nervous system [turns on our] fight-or-flight mode where we’re very stimulated. What we need to do to allow our body to rest is, we must shift our nervous system back into the parasympathetic state. That’s where we’re going to find rest and rejuvenation, and all those things that are so important for us, because...if our body doesn’t get the rest it needs, it will negatively impact our overall health.

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