Image by Dave-F
I think it is generally accepted that stress makes it more likely that we will get sick. Whether stress alone can cause us to get sick might be a bit more contentious. Nevertheless, it is generally accepted that stress can make it more likely we will get sick.
This raises the question of what causes stress.
It isn’t working hard. It can be a pleasure to work hard at what we love. We even challenge ourselves to do more at what we love. That is, we want to work even harder at what we love.
It isn’t the kind of work as such. Whatever I find stressful and unpleasant, there are people who love doing it.
One answer is that stress is an emergency reaction that keeps going into a normal situation. The emergency reaction is the fight/fright/flight reaction of tensed muscles and accelerated heart rate and breathing that prepares us for an emergency. Some people have this as their normal state – and it can be very hard on their bodies. Stress, seen in this way, is a lack of adjustment from one situation to another.
But what causes this mismatch? What is the reason for this reaction keeping going? There are at least three possibilities that I can think of.
- Perhaps it is a habit. A child bought up in a continually stressful situation or an adult who has spent a long time in a war zone may well find the fight/fright/flight reaction has become a habit.
- Perhaps it is a lack of perception. The person may not realise that some situations are less dangerous than others. They may not know how to tell whether someone or some situation is dangerous.
- Perhaps it is a lack of options for responding. Someone relishes the charge of the fight/fright/flight state and doesn’t realise there is another way to respond.
To reduce the amount of stress in our lives may mean looking at one or all of these.
Here are some questions to help find ways to live with less stress in your life.
- What was my childhood home like? Always stressful? If not: what issues or behaviours created stress?
- Do you have a sense of danger? Even if it is registered in your gut rather than being rational do you have some danger signal you can recognise? Do you respond to this signal?
- How flexible am I? Do I have lots of ways of responding to a situation? or only a few? or only one? (The rarest for me is to be light-hearted. I tend to treat things as projects to be managed or as serious issues.)
I think all these can lead to useful changes in behaviour. And I think there may be another approach: focussing on doing what we love. I’ll write about this in my next post.
My thanks to all those who have commented on the text of my ebook-to-be. It is called “It’s Not About Success.” If you are new to my blog, welcome. I would be grateful if you would read it and comment on it too. I plan to use it as a promotional free report for a course I plan to open for enrolments in the next month or two. It’s fairly long (17,000 words) so it may not be for one reading. You can go to it by clicking on this link or by clicking on the link in the left hand side bar under “Site Info”. I am very grateful for all those who have taken the time and effort to comment so far and welcome any and all comments. Many thanks.