Sep - Oct 2022

You Can Not Run from Stress

By Cynthia J. Turner, PhD

 

Stress in our modern culture is one of the most ubiquitous and challenging issues we have. As most people know, historically the human race has survived based on the foods, culture, and elements of their particular local environment. Stress during these eras was limited mostly to survival issues, untreatable health issues, and rivaling, roving bands. Communications and travel were extremely challenging and often dangerous, essentially until the last century, during which time trains and automobiles developed. The upside of this period is that solitude, family time, and free time were available to almost everyone, as life progressed at a markedly slow pace.

 

Fast forward to the internet:  a connected and global culture, which binds and connects us in previously unimagined ways. The downside to our instantaneous connections are numerous and challenging, and as we have moved into an era where most individuals are connected, both at work and in their private life, we are seeing stress levels that surpass anything we could have imagined. One of the major downsides to electronic communication seems to have led us to an almost daily sense of ongoing pressure, intensity, demand, often showing up as fear, that has not been experienced in previous time periods.

 

Research has proven that many common medical and psychological symptoms and disorders are attributable to the never-ending background stress. Most of us ask ourselves, "How do I cope?" The answers are complex, particularly given that most of us have fewer free hours on our calendar. Many have turned to compulsive habits such as overeating, consumption of higher levels of alcohol or usage of drugs. Often the unconscious brain will seize the situation and a conversion of stress will take place, leading to chronic physical symptoms such as back pain, headaches, stomach problems, and many other syndromes. The gifted psychiatrist, Dr. Sigmund Freud, discussed these issues in depth during the 1900's. Awareness of these issues, particularly regarding understanding their connection to stress, fatigue, and illness, is the first step.

 

There are many well-written articles on the internet that address specific measures that can be taken related to stress management, particularly as it relates to our globally connected cultures and our constant experience of being "on call”.

 

Three Action Steps:

One. Spend some time and find what works for you.

Two. Set up your own "rules" regarding how much of your energy and emotions is being taken by your devices. 

Three. Engage in soothing activities such as long or short baths and showers, yoga, walking, cooking healthy foods, spending time with friends, listening to music, in an environment with an agreement to turn off devices for specific periods of "downtime".

 

Remember, "You can't run from stress!" Face it! Confront it! Acknowledge it! We live with it and need to become more conscious of how it affects our quality of life and our health, emotional, mental and physical.