When written in Chinese, the word “crisis” is composed of two characters. One represents danger, and the other represents opportunity.-John F. Kennedy
WHAT DO YOU REALLY KNOW ABOUT STRESS?
Live Long-And Not So Stressed!
When Antonio Todde was born in a remote village in Sardinia, Italy, the Eiffel Tower was slowly being completed.
One hundred eleven years late, when the retired shepherd was visited by researchers who certified his claim as being one of the oldest people on earth, he was asked what kept his life so long.
He simply answered , “You take one day after the other, you just go on.”
Others also have similar fate. One very, very lucky centenarian who was also born in 1889, Benjamin Harrison Holcomb from rural Oklahoma, attributed his longevity to an ability to weep freely.
And the remarkably alert Frenchwoman Jeanne Calment, who died in 1997 at age 122, said one of her secrets to long life was her sense of humor. “I will die laughing,” she predicted.
These people had the ability to live one day at a time, to let their emotions flow, and to laugh at any problem that came their way. They knew how to face stress and overcome it. How about you?
“Stress” is one of the most popular words in modern society, which has been often described as relatively stressful.
What exactly is stress? It’s basically the kind of “wear and tear” our bodies experience in our efforts to adjust to the demands of our immediate and larger environment.
Whenever we get stressed, we experience physical and emotional effects that result in positive or negative feelings. As negative influence, it can result in feelings of failure, doubt, rejection, anger, and depression.
It can also affect our health, leading to problems such as migraines, headaches, upset stomach, insomnia, ulcers, high blood pressure, heart failure, and even stroke. But as positive influence, stress can motivate us to action, to promptly do something, to change directions.
This can bring about a new awareness and understanding as well as new perspective on certain things. This is one side of stress (that’s usually ignored) that we will be focusing later on.
With the many twists and turns of life that people experience such as the death of a family member, the birth of a child, loss or acceptance of a job, or the creation of a new relationship, we experience stress as we try to respond to these passages.
This is where stress plays its part, either helping or hindering us, depending on how we respond to it.
Betty Cooper, from Stress: Is it a Positive or Negative Influence on your Life?” Stress can be a good thing. Without it we could perhaps miss the joy of success through having to give an “extra push.”
Think of sports champions. No one ever won a medal by getting rid of stress. Medals are won by those who learn to manage stress.
STRESS IS A NATURAL PART OF LIFE
You Are Not Stress-Free!
Let’s demolish one particular myth imposed upon us by some so-called authorities: there is no such thing as a stress-free life. People experience stress up to the sunsets of their lives.
That is an established fact. But what is true is this: you can decrease the amount of stress in your life. In order to do so, let’s understand first how stress works its way in our lives.
The Stages Of Stress
Psychologists have long noted that there are clear-cut relationships between the timelines of human life and emotional and social development. In other words, the way we react to certain things directly correspond to the age group we belong.
For instance, you’re probably familiar with Sigmund Freud’s observation that an individual’s personality development depends on the resolution of conflicts between childhood sexual urges and the demands of society.
Erik Erikson was a German Jew who was teased for his ethnicity. Hence, at an early age he did not feel comfortable either as a German or as a Jew. When he grew up and became a psychologist, he labeled this childhood feeling as the basis for his theory of an identity crisis.
He also studied Freud’s findings, then refined and expanded them into eight stages of physical, emotional and psychological development.
STRESSED? GO GET YOUR PET CAT! Studies have shown that taking care of a pet can boost your feelings. The mere act of petting a dog can actually lower blood pressure. In one publicized case, patients awaiting oral surgery spent some time first watching a tank of tropical fish.
When the patients’ blood pressure was measured, it had considerably lowered. Their stress level at the time of surgery had actually lessened.
He believed that in each stage of our lives, there is a particular crisis that must be resolved before we can successfully progress to the next stage. We can only be successful in each stage if we were able to resolve the crisis at the previous stage. What if you don’t resolve it? Then it will continue to affect your development throughout life.
Ted Engstrom Life is about 20% in what happens to us and 80% in the way we respond to the events.
Sounds familiar? This theory of psychosocial development is widely accepted today by most psychiatric professionals. In other words, we experience some kind of stress during a particular age in our lives. It is every bit a part of life:
- During the infant stage, a person experiences a crisis of basic trust as against basic distrust
- As a toddler, a person is caught between autonomy from his parents versus shame and doubt
- At the preschooler/early childhood stage, it’s a battle between initiative and guilt
- At early school age, the person experiences conflict between being self-industrious and inferiority from others
- In adolescence, it’s a search for identity amidst role confusion
- Young adulthood, which is the start of long-term relationships, is characterized by intimacy versus isolation
- During adulthood, it’s a fight between generality (the ability to be creative and innovative) over stagnation
- Finally, during old age, the feelings of integrity for a life well-lived collide against those of despair over what could have been.
All stress is thus age-related. A teenager will be stressed out by his inability to be “in” with his peers, while a middle-aged office worker is stressed by the fact that he or she is stuck to a job that doesn’t offer any reward for working hard.