3 Ways a P.I.S.S.-off Day Relieves Stress and

Why You Should Take One Soon

Bick Wanck MD


The right amount of stress is a moving target between emptiness and overwhelm. Too much stress can cause you to exceed your stress threshold—the point at which stress causes your Achilles heel (your point of vulnerability) to flare up, and this can cause both physical and mental distress.

Too much cortisol can cause anxiety and depression, and it can activate or worsen a physical illness like acid reflux, migraine, or back pain.

Some people know when this is going to happen because of past experience. They know that a problem is likely to surface when they are pushing too hard. They can feel extreme overwhelm or a feeling of entrapment, or that desperate feeling that comes with feeling you have to do more than you can handle. These feelings could be due to changes at work, unexpected relationship demands, or self-imposed pressure to accomplish something important.

The state caused by stress that exists before stress results in the manifestation of illness is something I now call Pre-Illness Stress Syndrome. Actually, my wife, Ramona, coined the term during a conversation we were having about stress.


Pre-Illness Stress Syndrome

“Pre-Illness Stress Syndrome is like PMS,” she said, “the way you know you’re about to get your period—or like the way you feel when you’re coming down with a viral infection before you get a runny nose, cough, or upset stomach. It feels different from your usual state, and you know by experience and by timing that it’s about to come.

“But with stress,” she continued, “there’s a different kind of sensation—part physical, part emotional—that lets you know you’ve pushed yourself too far.”

Most people would call the solution for Pre-Illness Stress Syndrome taking a mental health day. But that term is too often associated with irresponsible fun seeking . . . and the manifestations of stress are anything but fun. Panic attacks, despair, insomnia, back pain, GERD, and IBS don’t go away just because you take a day off from your responsibilities. Taking a P.I.S.S. (Pre-Illness Stress Syndrome)-off day means taking a day of deliberate healing.


How Your P.I.S.S.-off Day Brings Stress Relief

When you are beyond your limit, try taking a day away from the source of your stress and treat yourself to a health-promoting day of decompression. Your P.I.S.S.-off Day helps you relieve stress by:

1.      helping you become aware of the triggers for your stress and the illnesses it can cause.

What causes your stress? Is it caused by trying to do too much in not enough time?  Is it related to too much work place or home life conflict or drama? Is it because of spending more than you earn, or trying too hard to please the people you love? Pay   attention to how your mind and body respond to the sources of your stress. What kind of emotional or physical upset does it cause? Could it contribute to the worsening of a chronic condition like hypertension, diabetes, IBS, or depression? Or, could it be causing a new case of acid reflux or anxiety? If you know that you are stressed and not feeling well but you don’t know why, taking a P.I.S.S.-off day could help you gain some perspective.

2.      creating a day of healing.

Do some things you know are good for you, such as meditating, preparing a healthy meal, exercising, spending time with nature, or reaching out to someone you know to be kind and loving. Take time to be a better friend to yourself by treating yourself with kindness and compassion.

3.      helping you learn new coping strategies.

On your P.I.S.S.- off Day, take time to decompress. Do nothing, or do something you enjoy. If you do something you enjoy, be sure it is safe for you and for those around you and does not include an addictive drug or behavior. Then, before you return to your stressful life, think of ways you could do things differently. Maybe you’ll need to pace yourself better, or unplug from unnecessary workplace drama, or speak up more for what you need at work or at home. Maybe you’ll need to schedule another P.I.S.S.-off day!


For the Long Term

Remember every day to practice some of the healthy activities you tried on your P.I.S.S.-off Day. Remember to breathe and return to the moment when you get too caught up with life’s pressures. Remember to exercise and eat better—even if you don’t want to. Try to minimize relationship drama and maximize time you spend with kind people. Try to dial down your inner pressure when you find yourself expecting too much of yourself. Turn everyday into a day of healthy behaviors so you don’t need as many P.I.S.S.-off Days!