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Stress in Our Modern Lifestyle
Many people today speak about the stress and the pressures of our modern lifestyle. However this is not a new phenomenon but an experience also felt by Jesus and His Apostles. They also needed to take time out and needed time for recuperation.
The Gospels show us that even in their time the disciples of Jesus had to face the problem of stress and recuperation (Mk 6: 30-34). The apostles return from their first mission, full of what they have experienced and achieved. They are totally preoccupied with recounting their successes; in fact, it has become a whole business operation, and things have gone so far that, with all the coming and going, they no longer have time to eat. Perhaps they are expecting to be congratulated on their zeal; but instead, Jesus summons them to go with him to a solitary place where they can be alone and rest.
I believe it is good that we should discern the humanity of Jesus in an event like this; he is not always uttering sublime words only, nor is he constantly wearing himself out in order to deal with everything that forces itself upon him. I can just imagine his face as he says these words; whereas the apostles are positively beside themselves and, full of zeal and self-importance, neglect their meals, Jesus brings them down from the clouds: Have a rest for a while! One can sense his quiet humour, his friendly irony as he brings them down to earth. It is precisely in this humanity of Jesus that his divinity becomes visible; here we see visibly what God is like. Any kind of hectic activity, even in religious affairs, is utterly alien to the New Testament picture of man.
We always overestimate ourselves when we imagine we are completely indispensable and that the world or the Church depends on our frantic activity. Often it will be an act of real humility and creaturely honesty to stop what we are doing, to acknowledge our limits, to take time to draw breath and rest - as the creature is designed to do. I am not suggesting that sloth is a good thing, but I do want to suggest that we revise our catalogue of virtues, as it has developed in the Western world, where activity alone is regarded as valid and where the attitudes of beholding, wonder, recollection and quiet are of no account, or at least are felt to need some justification. This causes the atrophying of certain essential human faculties.
All this is illustrated by our use of leisure time. Often it is nothing but a change of scene, and many people would be ill at ease if, afterward, they did not plunge once more into the mass and return to their work routine - from which they originally wanted to escape. That is why it is so necessary for us, who live constantly in an artificial world of man-made things, to leave it behind and seek to encounter creation in its natural state.
I would like to mention a small but significant thing of which the Holy Father spoke in his retreat addresses for Paul VI. There he tells of his conversations with a scientist, 'a first-class research scientist and a fine man', who told him: "Scientifically, I am an atheist..."; yet the same man once wrote to him: "Whenever I am confronted with the majesty of nature, of the mountains, I feel that he exists".
God does not come to light in the artificial world of man-made things. So it is all the more necessary for us to leave our workaday world behind and go in search of the breath of creation, in order that we may meet him and thus find ourselves.
What is Stress - A Definition
Stress for the individual occurs when he or she is faced with something that they perceive they will have difficulty dealing with. It is a very individual thing. Things like headaches, stomach disorders, muscle tension and irritability are common signs that we are experiencing stress. What will cause stress for one person may not cause it for another.
That does not mean one or other person is better at coping with stress. It is because we are all unique individuals with different life experiences, upbringings, personality types and states of health. The situations we have to face are also different.
Ensuring daily relaxation, eating a good diet, including exercise as a part of life, learning to be assertive and managing your time correctly are very helpful in reducing the effects of stress in everyday life.
Chronic stress is long term, negative stress that has become detrimental to the individual. It can produce stress-related illnesses such as digestive disorders, cardiovascular problems, or muscular/skeletal problems. It is often the result of ignored warning signs and has built up over a period of time. There are both physical and psychological consequences of chronic stress. Some examples are: psychological: panic attacks; aggressive behaviour; feelings of being unable to cope; poor concentration etc; physical: digestive disorders; muscle tensions; blood pressure increase; immune system functioning below optimum level. It is also a good example of how many people do not heed the signs of stress until it has become a problem for them.
Acute stress is short term, positive stress, that is not detrimental to the individual but rather often gives that extra burst of energy that is needed during the stressful period. As it is a short lived stress it is not considered a danger to one's health, unlike the chronic stress. We all need a little stress in our lives and this type of positive stress can be used to the advantage of the individual. However, every individual should make a point of managing their stress levels whether they are short lived daily, weekly or monthly and avoid getting into the position of chronic stress. If condition persists consult a doctor, talk to a friend/other ...
providing confidential, emotional support online ... here.
- AWARE is a voluntary organisation helping people to defeat Depression ... here.
- The Black Dog - supporting men who suffer from mental distress ... here.
- Books... here.