CW #16: STRESS
Do you feel stressed out?
Be under stress or under pressure, having a stressful day or feeling stressed out - today “stress” has become a companion in every life situation. It is Saturday midday and you go out for weekly duties and weekend strolling, such as food shopping combined with having a coffee in the sun. While slowly passing through the stores, you meet a friend, seemingly experiencing pressure. Pressure caused by a good amount of tasks, having to be done. As soon as the entering conversation of exchanging current moods has started, the final phase enters and ends with much likely heard sentences: “I am so stressed out. I gotta go run do the groceries, need to go to different stores, and pick up some clothes from the laundry mat, visit my yoga class, return back home to prepare and put the food in the oven, start cleaning the apartment due to a friend’s gathering in the evening, take a shower and get ready according to socially notable standards.” This includes make-up, eyelashes, polished nails, high-heels and a smile as big as the Grand Canyon. Finishing the day with a headache, an Advil, holding a smartphone in one hand while falling asleep, waiting to upload pictures of an entertaining and successful gathering. Mission accomplished! WELCOME TO CW #16: STRESS!
By confronting yourself with the term “stress”, what is your association? Have you established an emotional reference? Do you feel pressure of some kind, e.g. in a personal manner, in terms of wanting to accomplish many things in order to feel good, maybe think of yourself as socially capable to manage, to cope or even socially superior? In a society like ours, it is more than likely to compete against each other and therefore create thoughts and techniques like these. This is the mindset our economy is based on - capitalistic countries as seen in “western” civilizations - and as a matter of fact the entire educational system, from primary schools to graduating universities. The more the better, the faster the winning, the higher the most power. No wonder we feel tension and “stressed out”. When acting against all rules of nature, and this approach is not going to be a spiritual kind rather logical, we create strain and overload. It is very simple, The day has 24 hours, you might want to sleep roughly 8 hours, leaving a sum of 16 hours. Taking into consideration another 4 hours of getting ready (shower, dental care, toilet, clothing) and eating (about three times a day plus groceries and preparation), which leads to a total of 12 hours. In many cases work takes up 8 to 9 hours, excluding the way to work, which might take another 1 to 2 hours (back and forth), resulting in a “regular modern-civilized” day with no personal, emotional, creative, inspirational, flexible or spontaneous input what so ever. Hence, stress is not a myth, it is our way of perceiving and organizing life. But what exactly does “stress” mean?
The broad issue of “stress”, often used colloquial referring to strain, finds its roots in various scientific disciplines. Although nowadays we often make use of its terminology in human biology, wanting to describe a mechanism responding to demands and threats for self-preservation reasons, its initial application took place in physics. The word “stress” derives from Latin stringere meaning to create tension. After, its descendant was found in Old French as estresse, later destresse, and finally settled in Old English as distress. The French linguistics result in the meaning of “cornering” or “putting pressure”. Due to a misleading pronunciation, the English got rid of the prefix “-di”, whereby the creation of two unattached words was formed, stress and distress. While “stress” was often relating to oppression, “distress” implied directly to a state of suppression and being inhibited. In the course of time, the term “stress” has reached high popularity levels, nowadays describing a state of pressure or stress as in emphasis. At this point it is of great importance to understand that “stress” involves neither a positive nor a negative connotation. Its comprehension and further application must remain neutral. Due to its origin in physics, “stress” and its actual neutral attribution undergo a social deformation. Initially, Robert Hooke started experiments creating a situation in which he made usage of the word “stress” describing an external force touching a solid body. As a result, the external influence, its degree of severity, deformed the body. What is more, Hooke named the material reaction, the deformation of its shape, strain, which means expansion. In this context, stress is understood as a neutral factor that includes the sum of all environmental influences making an impact on the object. These are considered as pressure referring to load. Whereas strain illustrates its direct result caused by stress. The effects are dependent upon its matter of subject! The following image is making the attempt of visualizing Hooke’s theory applied on behavioral patterns of human beings exposed to “stress”.
The focal point of all situations is presented by the “acting subject” itself who is equipped with individual properties. Those can vary from person to person, as well culture to culture since each area requires particular coping techniques. In the process of time, individuals acquire lots of new strategies, as well develop and improve the ones that already exist, or get rid of these, that are no longer needed. “Stress” is understood as everything touching, interfering, interacting or communicating with the “acting subject”. As previously stated, its primary influence is seen as neutral. Thus, the reaction regarding “stress” differs depending on personal mindsets, as well as attitudes and skills. Especially experienced in “western-civilized” societies, the amount of stress, the touching point between subjects and objects, increase. Hence, stress is considered to appear as an excessive demand. We loose the effect of successful management, which leads to an implementation of coping strategies. It is due to its occurrence, that we feel tension, overload and pressure, not though according to stress’ actual properties. Eventually, its reaction relies on personal abilities and competence.
So, what is it that we can do to improve our handling towards stress? First, we need to understand that “stress” is nothing but an input. It is neither negative, nor positive. Its aftermath is totally up to us! Second, we may start recognizing stress as the language of development. What we need to do is use the five given natural senses to encode stress in order to create an interaction. This is the moment we start “talking” to stress, we initiate a communication base, so that we are able to learn from its vivid and striving character. In that sense, to find out what we are surrounded by, to be part and to deal with the cosmos, we need to understand and apply its language - STRESS! The more we appreciate what stress is there for, the better we will function as a whole. Thus, if you start interpreting stress as an impulse, you might find it easier to interact with. It is our social deformation of stress, that we no longer feel attached to its special features, its power of growth!
On these grounds…
...talk to stress by using your senses, individually and exclusively
...choose wisely based on personal desires and not social standards
...strengthen your personal properties by reflecting your actions
...enhance your reactions by evaluating your decisions
...improve your being on the strength of YOURSELF!
May you have a wonderful & stressful calendar week #16!