The Debilitating Power of Stress

Stress is almost certainly the most insidious, pervasive, widespread and generally debilitating condition of our time; it is the most common state of being in our society and one that deeply compromises our quality of life.

In the 60's and 70's and 80's, with the increase of automation and computerisation, we were promised an era of leisure, where much of our work would be done by machines. But instead we find ourselves in a society where stress is totally prevalent and time seems to disappear as we look at it.

Many people who have jobs that pay good wages and provide good holidays feel so demanded of their time and energy that much of their income is used to support them in their work and their holidays, when they dare to take them, are needed for recovery rather than for pleasure.

Even more prevalent are those who are trying to run a home and family and fund it by working at the same time. Shopping for dinner when you should be having your lunch isn't ideal! Fitting in the needs of the family with the needs of the employer doesn't leave much left over for oneself.

Surveys regularly show that people generally perceive their quality of life diminishing; more and more people are feeling tired or exhausted all the time; more and more people would like to reduce their working hours and yet most of us are still caught in a culture of high expectations and instant gratification, with the demands that that produces. On the other side of the formula, instead of enjoying the leisure that we do have, we seem to be compelled to take advantage of the new technologies and services available to cram more and more into every day.

We simply aren't built for this kind of lifestyle; elevated stress levels result in the eventual debilitation of every physical and mental process; our immune systems are dramatically compromised; blood pressure is elevated, muscles tighten, arteries constrict; emotionally we, and those around us, pay the price in short temperdness, self centredness, hostility and aggression. On the personality level, our priorities can become confused, we can lose touch with our sense of reality, we can become anxious, feel inadequate, depressed, alienated and cut off from our deeper inner feelings. We should not have a large proportion of the population on long term anti-depressants.

Mankind evolved over millions of years, under very different circumstances and we were never designed to operate under these conditions. We were designed to rest when we were tired, eat when we were hungry, express our creative impulses and enjoy the company of our fellow beings. I have known people in business, myself included, who would regularly experience a state of panic when faced with a multitude of simultaneous demands, all requiring immediate attention.

Stress Management is one way of taking charge of our own lives, of taking responsibility for ourselves. As a starting point, we prioritise and organise the contents of our lives, simplifying and balancing until we have created a lifestyle that we are happy with, that we can enjoy. Yes, the Meaning of Life includes enjoying our lives rather than just surviving them until we die. At a deeper level, it is reasonable to say that our current lifestyles arise from our allowing ourselves to become caught up by events and circumstances not of our choosing, which indicates that we have become out of touch with our deeper, inner selves, and our deeper, inner needs. We can also work at this deeper level, getting in touch with our deeper, more real, selves and creating a life that more accurately reflects our inner priorities and values.

I work as a healer and a therapist in York and welcome the opportunity to work with those who are seeking to become more whole and in touch with their deeper being. I offer an initial half hour consultation to prospective clients, free of charge and without obligation.