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NCCIH Research Blog

Former Surgeon General Discusses Stress and Well-being at 2017 Straus Lecture

September 21, 2017

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NCCIH Research Blog Team,

National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health

On September 7, former U.S. Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy, M.D., gave the 2017 Stephen E. Straus Distinguished Lecture in the Science of Complementary Therapies. Titled “A Nation Under Pressure: The Public Health Consequences of Stress in America,” the event was a conversation between Dr. Murthy and NIH Director Francis Collins, M.D., Ph.D. NCCIH’s annual Straus Lecture honors Dr. Stephen Straus, the founding director of NCCIH and a distinguished physician-scientist.

Dr. Murthy explained how certain factors are contributing to what data indicate may be rising levels of stress in the U.S.: a “more relentless 24/7 work culture;” fewer supportive, in-person social connections; money challenges; relationship/family issues; and health problems. Chronic stress, he said, is like lifting weights at the gym without a break, and this can negatively impact our health and quality-of-life at all ages.

There are some things we can do about it, however. Dr. Murthy discussed several “buffers” with supportive evidence against stress-related problems?including getting enough sleep, increasing our social connections, and practicing meditation or other contemplative approaches. These measures have benefits at larger levels as well, he noted, including to our workplaces, communities, and society.

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