Got Stress?

OK – it’s over. Christmas, New Year (for those using the Gregorian calendar), and most other winter holidays are over for another year. After a significant ramping up of social and family activities, normal life is resuming. People are back at work, kids in school, and those credit card bills are rolling in. Normal life.
The season of goodwill is over, and for those who have run the gauntlet of a school run, (which I can only assume is directed by the most evil of demons from Satan’s own school of traffic cops), it is easy to forget that goodwill is even a real thing. In many ways, the holiday season allows us a moment of respite from “normal life”, and an opportunity to believe in hope again.
However, as the distractions are removed, we are soon reminded of the stark reality of life, and the joy of seeing friends and family, and catching up with people we may not have seen in a long time soon fades. The things that were always there and had been put in the back of our minds come to the front and center again. The things we were “putting off until the New Year” are now the things we are faced with today. It can be quite overwhelming.
If we look at stress, it isn’t what most of us think it is – stress isn’t good or bad. It’s just a thing. The best definition comes from Hans Selye (936) who describes stress as “the non-specific response of the body to any demand for change”. Next week stress will be our theme as we look at what it is, how it affects us, and some ideas on how to reduce the negative effects it has.
Here are the three takeaways for today:
1 – We are constantly in a state of stress. There is always a change or a demand on us. Sometimes it is good, sometimes bad, sometimes neutral. Stress is normal.
2 – Most of us are easily distracted by shiny objects that take our attention. We leave things to bubble on the back-burner and only come back to them when they are boiling over.
3 – Often we will allow “small things” to become “big things” which then take all our attention, which allows for small things to grow and so we live in a cycle of stress.
We don’t have to live in this cycle. It is true that life will sometimes deliver a swift kick to the groin which cannot be prepared for, but often we are able to manage our stress a lot better than we think. We’ll look at this more next week.
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Selye, H. (1936). A syndrome produced by diverse nocuous agents. Nature, 138, 32.

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