Available for Interviews: Dr. Pete Loper
Dr. Pete Loper, MD, MSEd, FAAP, is a triple board-certified physician in pediatrics, psychiatry, and child psychiatry. He is also a professor and executive coach and is dedicated to mental health and wellness advocacy.
What Dr. Loper could say on
The stress response, or the physiologic changes to include the release of “adrenaline” that promote fight, flight, or freeze behaviors in response to a threat, are very important for our survival. However, our stress-response system is designed to activate briefly, for only about 10 to 15 minutes, just long enough to escape acute danger. When our stress response becomes overactive due to ongoing worry, uncertainty, or anticipation, this is generally what we call “stress,” or “chronic stress.”
Here are some evidence-based ways to decrease your body’s overactive stress response, also known as “sympathetic overdrive”, and promote relaxation:
1) Practice Breathing
- Deep breathing exercises decrease the body’s overactive stress response by activating the “rest and digest,” or “parasympathetic” arm of our nervous system. There are several studies that demonstrate that deep breathing practices decrease cortisol levels and decrease stress. Meditation practices incorporate deep breathing and have robust evidence that demonstrates efficacy in reducing stress.
2) Be Active
- Physical movement of any kind is proven to reduce stress. Walking is often considered the best form of physical movement and decreases stress by promoting deeper breathing and supporting mindfulness or being present in the moment. Walking specifically outside in nature, also known as “forest bathing”, has been proven to decrease stress, and lower cortisol levels. Yoga and Tai Chi are additional movement practices that incorporate deep breathing, and that have been proven to reduce stress.
3) Be Social
- Meaningful interpersonal interactions with friends and family promote the release of the neurohormones “oxytocin” and “vasopressin.” These neurohormones tamp down our overactive stress response, decrease cortisol, and are proven to decrease stress. If proximity to friends or family is limited, get a pet. Interactions with your dog or cat can have a similar effect on our overactive stress response and are proven to decrease stress.
Ongoing or chronic stress causes the body to produce excess cortisol and creates low-grade inflammation. Stress, and subsequent excess cortisol and inflammation, are associated with several dangerous health problems including high blood pressure, obesity, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer, and addiction among other adverse health consequences. Practicing the above tips will help to combat these health risks.
Interview: Dr. Pete Loper
Dr. Pete Loper began his undergraduate studies in English at Kenyon College prior to completing his premedical coursework and Bachelor of Arts at the University of South Carolina (U of SC). He earned his Doctor of Medicine from the University of South Carolina School of Medicine, and his Master of Science in Education from the University of Pennsylvania. Following medical school, Dr. Loper completed a residency in pediatrics. He then worked as a pediatrician in a private practice setting while completing a second residency in psychiatry and a fellowship in child and adolescent psychiatry. He has also completed the American Psychoanalytic Association’s Psychoanalytic Fellowship Program and the Teleos Leadership Institute’s Coach Development Program.
Dr. Loper has been featured in numerous academic publications and media outlets and it is through these channels that he can dedicate his time to being an advocate for mental health and wellness.
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