Mitzi Dulan – America's Nutrition Expert
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Reducing Stress in 2016
by Mitzi Dulan, RD, America’s Nutrition Expert®
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2015 was the year of knee issues for my 14 year-old daughter and TMJ headaches for me. What stressed you out the most in 2015?

We all have stress but how you respond to your stress can have a big impact on your health. Aetna asked me about my stress levels because stress has damaging effects on health and reducing stress can boost wellbeing.

In 2015, the two most stressful things in my life have been both been health related. First, my daughter injured her knee playing volleyball early in 2015. She had surgery in March and was doing good but hurt it again while doing high school weights for volleyball during the summer.

Just recently she landed awkwardly at practice the night before Thanksgiving and hasn’t been able to participate in her club volleyball practices since due to the increased pain and swelling. We just got another MRI on Friday and will soon learn the plan of action to get her healthy. As a parent and especially as a mom, I want to protect my kids and it is really hard to see my daughter in pain and missing the sport she loves. Recently, I’ve been beating myself up thinking what could I have done differently that might have prevented her from experiencing so much pain and missing out on practicing with her teammates and playing for super great coaches who make playing volleyball really fun. I have been second-guessing myself about it a lot. One thing that helps me when my mind starts doing this is to focus on how lucky we are that she is otherwise very healthy and to think positive that we have a great doctor who will get her knee healthy in 2016.

Josie vb

My Daughter Playing Volleyball 2 Days Before Her Knee Surgery


My other stress is my own struggle with temporomandibular joint (TMJ) syndrome, which is pain in the jaw and leads to frequent headaches. Ironically, the stress from my daughter’s knee issues can lead to my TMJ acting up. I’ve had TMJ for over 10 years, which started after a massage. My TMJ stress headaches can make me less patient with my family and it usually gets worse a little later in the day at about 5-6 pm.

I have tried many different things to try to reduce my TMJ pain. I also aim to avoid complaining so it is a bit difficult to write this post as I really think it is important to keep a positive mindset. I have this cool gratitude glass ball. I write down things that I’m grateful for and add them to my gratitude ball. I know that many people are dealing with much bigger challenges and more pain than me.

Personally, I always strive to improve and seek out ways to do things better whether it is with my work or in my personal life. I try to be very self aware of my strengths and weaknesses and fully understand that an area where I continually need to focus on improving is how I respond to stress. I’m committed to doing a better job of reducing my stress in 2016 by consistently starting my day with 10 minutes of meditation.

Will you join me and together we can reduce our stress in 2016?


This post was sponsored by Aetna, who believes health is about the body and the mind. Stress can affect emotional and physical health, and reducing stress can boost wellbeing. The views and opinions expressed on this blog are purely the blogger’s own and do not necessarily represent the views of Aetna. To learn more about stress reduction, visit




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