Is stress increasing, in our lives today?

In the last five years, so many things have happened to me, both physically and mentally, that I often lie in bed, and struggle to come to terms with it all. When I look back, before my diagnosis, although I was approaching 50, in the pictures that I have, I appear to be relatively care free and full of life. Since then, the numerous pictures that have been taken, show me in various different sizes, due to treatment, my hair thinned by chemo, my features gaunt through constant treatment, and a relatively serious face. These weren’t posed, just natural, and these show me quite clearly, the toll that has been taken on my body.I can’t really change any of this but, it does explain why it has happened.

I have always felt that I have dealt with stress quite well in my life. In my business life I found that it motivated me, and again, on reflection I was under an awful amount at times,as being self employed, I had to succeed or I earned no money! But I was younger then, and maybe I didn’t really recognise stress, and certainly wouldn’t admit to it!

In the work that I do now, I am much more conscious of the existence, and effects of stress on people, particularly those that are affected by a long term illness. However, I have also noticed the effects on many friends and colleagues. So many conversations revolve around problems at home, work, financial, health etc. Certainly we are all getting older, and those subjects are now more likely to enter into our discussions, but it is definitely much more common.

Anxiety and stress can be very slow to take hold, but they do damage over a period of time, bit by bit, until your body finally starts showing some physical signs. Exhaustion, constant infections etc that you find difficult to shift, or maybe worse. The biggest problem is that we all struggle to recognise the signs. Once any sort of condition has a real hold on you, then it is always more difficult to resolve.

When I was younger, I used to imagine that life would become easier as I got older. Why shouldn’t it? In theory your debts would be decreasing, your children would be growing up, your career would be organised, and your pension would be building. Just a question of how to spend it, to worry about eh?? Some of those parts didn’t work out for me, neither are they for my friends/colleagues.

Why hasn’t our life become easier? We have computers that can almost do anything, modern homes, fast cars, fancy restaurants, labour saving gadgets to do most tasks we don’t want to do. So much better than the life we had as kids? We have fought to help our children not ‘ suffer as we did, growing up.’

Is it that stress has always been there, and we just got on with it, but now we recognise it as a medical condition? It can be the cause of many serious conditions, and if it is triggered by getting ill, you can see how difficult life can become.We can all tolerate different levels of it, and what is stress to one person, is normal for another, that is why it is difficult to recognise at times, and particularly difficult to treat.

So the big question is how to relieve it? Again, the answer is different for all of us, but in most instances, stress is related to work in one way or another, and how do we resolve that? I’m sure that even people doing what might be considered to be simple tasks, suffer an element of stress. Work involves dealing with bosses and colleagues, where you will always get a mixture of opinions, and on top of that, there is the pressure that you bring on yourself, as we all want to be as good as we can, and get upset if we can’t achieve what we are capable of.

Like a lot of conditions, the symptoms and treatment are very individual, and also, for a lot of people difficult to understand from the outside. How can we truly understand what is going on in someone else’s head. We all deal with things differently, so how could we?

During the Olympic Games, I’m sure all our problems just didn’t disappear, but it felt that everyone was so happy The weather has been good for a few days, and we are all out and about smiling again.But then after a few days, back came the economy, bombings round the world, politicians, and generally bad news.

Since I became unwell, I have tried to remove ‘ the aggro factor ‘ slowly from my life. Now I am no longer able to work, I don’t have some of those issues, but different ones because I want to! I got rid of my second car, my house is as maintenance free as I can make it, and I only get involved in projects that I want to, as a volunteer. I don’t have any fancy job title, or career to worry about, only how to fill my time in between hospital visits. Apart from my health issues, I certainly lead a much more simple life than I did. I could start thinking about finance, but I can’t work, or change my situation so, although it has taken me many years to accept it I have to live with it!

Do you consider yourself affected by stress, and if so, how do you deal with it? Do you have any suggestions for other readers?

2 Comments

  1. Chris

    I came from a rural poverty stricken culture where luxuries were rare. Farming was a hard a precarious way of earning a living, animals needed to be tended to in all weathers, and the sowing and harvesting of crops depended on the weather. On a good year you could afford all the necessities for your family. Labour saving devices were rare, most families didn’t even have a washing machine. In spite of the harsh conditions stress was rare, People always seemed to have time for a chat when they met a neighbour. I recall a sense of community where people helped each other when someone was sick or had some misfortune.

    Now we have all the labour saving devices, luxuries galore, and stress seems to be the norm. Is this due to a culture where success is measured according to the status we acquire and we demonstrate it by having things. It is very hard not to be caught up in the stampede to have the latest devices/objects.

    I visit an a nursing home every week, there are people there who once had a lot of “success”, I sometimes find it sad that age is such a leveller.

    Susan

  2. Hi Susan
    As we get older,our priorities change, and what seemed important at the time, is less so now. After my experiences, I class success as happiness. I feel that if you are happy in your life, then you have been successful.
    I think you are right, that usually people measure success by posessions and job titles etc, but as we get older we appreciate that this is not correct.Unfortunately it usually takes age and experience to see these things!
    Nature certainly is a great leveller! Thank you for your very informative comments, which I know the readers will find very helpful.

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