04/01/2011 07:29 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

Stress Awareness Month 2011: How Stress Management Can Make You More Resilient

The mental and physical toll ahead of and during even minor surgery can have a severe impact on the recovery process afterwards. Helping men and women cope with the stress of surgery before an operation may indeed speed up both their physical and psychological recoveries and serve as a benchmark towards attaining what we call "optimal stress."

A recent study, published in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine, showed that stress management did more than just ease a man's anxiety about prostate surgery, as an example. Men who performed simple stress-relief exercises had a stronger immune response in the days after the operation.

"It's showing that a few sessions of stress management can change the postoperative biological functioning," said Lorenzo Cohen, professor and director of the integrative medicine program at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. "These results speak to the fact that you can get someone more immunologically competent, even with something very brief."

The impact of stress on performance, be it in recovery, physical and mental development, professional growth or relationship management, can be understood and measured in a realistic manner. The Scott Institute aims to analyze stress as a catalyst in effecting the aforementioned, and managing that stress acting as an integral part of achieving and sustaining a healthy organizational culture.

In this case, reports across the board have noted that an optimistic attitude can do wonders for patients' recovery. Studies spanning 30 years have looked at patients' attitudes after surgery.

"In each case the better a patient's expectations about how they would do after surgery or some health procedure, the better they did," said author Donald Cole, of the Institute for Work and Health in Toronto.

On "Good Morning America," Dr. Nancy Snyderman stated that "this mind-body connection that we have been toying with for the past couple of decades really does have hard science behind it."

More research is needed to determine if the boost in immune function that occurs with stress-management techniques has a meaningful effect on a man's recovery after surgery. However, the research did show that men who learned stress-management reported better physical functioning a year after surgery.

My book, "Optimal Stress," offers an approach that helps one develop a crucial understanding of what stress is, what it is not, and most importantly, how to find the right stress-health balance. Along with this pertinent information, the book clarifies the link between stress and medical disorders such as heart disease, diabetes and gastrointestinal issues.

Ultimately, we find that stress management is a strategy, with unique emotional, psychological, behavioral, biological and physical components; captaining its fluctuations unequivocally benefits long-term health and long-term goals.