There is no doubt about it – living in the ‘modern’ world has its benefits. For one thing, as a woman, I appreciate the fact that I don’t have to wash my family’s clothes in a copper over a fire, use an outhouse instead of a toilet or always cook everything from scratch. All of us can no doubt appreciate how good it is to be able to access the Internet any time and to get a virtually instant response to letters. My family overseas and I stay in touch via Skype and seeing their faces and being able to talk to them virtually whenever I want for free, instead of saving up for the once a fortnight phone call, is absolutely phenomenal!
It’s hard to imagine (or remember) that just a generation ago, none of this would have been possible.
Today, we have the convenience of ‘labour-saving’ appliances in our homes, cars that can take us almost anywhere at speeds that would have blown our grandparent’s minds, and computers, tablets and smartphones that keep us in touch with the entire world from the comfort of our own homes or on the road.
With these benefits however, have come some pretty amazing downsides. Modern technology has changed human society so quickly and profoundly that a person who was born 100 years ago or even less would have trouble understanding almost anything we do routinely today.
I had an extremely high-pressure job before starting my family. I worked in the securities market and yes, before you ask, it was every bit as dog-eat-dog and full-on as you have seen in the movies and heard. Every day was an exercise in survival and we worked really hard for ridiculously long hours (often from 7 in the morning until 9:30-10:00 at night if we were entertaining clients after work) and had short to no holiday breaks. It was a very high stress environment.
But once I got home, my job was left behind. At night and on the weekend, I was my own person. No emails followed me to my flat; no fax machine to check; no mobile phone keeping me in touch with work at all hours of the day or night. I was my own person and I enjoyed that time off – the release of doing what I wanted and only being responsible to myself – even if only for the weekend.
Looking back, I would read at least one novel a week (usually more because my commute time was also a time to read), take long walks on the beach, go away with friends and see my family – activities that just don’t seem to fit into my life as easily today as they did then.
Even with the stressful job, I had many precious opportunities to relax and to let off the steam that had built up during the week.
The situation today is completely different. If you are anything like me, you find it hard to make that break between work and home and between stressful situations and relaxation.
And if you actually work from home – well! The travel time is fantastic but you never do manage to leave the ‘office’, do you?
Reaching the boiling point
It’s no wonder that stress-related illnesses are at an all-time high. These include (but are not limited to) heart disease, asthma, obesity, diabetes, chronic headaches, gut issues, dementia, depression and anxiety, premature aging and even death. Many of us have lost the ability to work out how to have ‘down-time’. Our OFF switch seems to have gone missing.
So it is vital that we find a way to get some relief from these pressures for our health and our sanity. How we choose to do that will probably be as unique as each one of us.
For me, relaxing can be sitting down and knitting a complex pattern, reading a fantasy novel (the ultimate escape literature) or getting out on my motorbike with no particular destination in mind – just going for the ride. These are all activities that can recharge my batteries and get me back to work with a clear mind and renewed energy. Of course, Dr Judy’s visualisations and strategies on the website are major tools to help with these issues and they really work.
What I would like to know is – what are your pressure-relief tactics? How do you relieve stress when it all becomes too much (or preferably, before it becomes too much!)?
Can you share your stress management tools? Do you do yoga or take the dog for a long run? Would you prefer to meditate or organise your closets? Would you prefer some escapism in front of the TV or does exercise really ‘do it’ for you?
By sharing your ideas on how to relieve stress, you can teach me some new methods I may never have thought about before. And at the same time, you can inform and assist our other blog readers, many of whom may be desperately searching for the answers you can provide.
I really look forward to hearing your thoughts.
For the Stress to Strength team