Stress, the term itself was coined by Hans Selye in 1946, to describe a ‘non-specific response syndrome’. It is precisely this non-specific characteristic that makes stress so dangerous. Now you see it now you don’t.
Stress is the consequence of the mind and body striving to adapt to situations, circumstances and various events, especially those involving things outside of our control. I used to equate stress with adaptation to change in our lives. However I realise that many people have to adapt to what is ostensibly, a lack of change. Examples of this might be occupations involving repetitious work, or a life lived in constrained circumstances, institutions or detention centres. If such circumstances offered no real cause to feel optimistic, optimism being a state of mind that could help alleviate stress, then stress levels would be even higher.
So stress is a rather shadowy phenomenon, assailing us one and all. Like rust, it never sleeps. It can exist in everyday life, and its effects on body and mind can occur without us even knowing. Down the track though we may be plagued by unexplained: muscle tension, headaches, erratic sleep patterns, mood disorders, anxiety, depression, insomnia, irritable bowel syndrome, menopausal symptoms, migraines, premenstrual or a picture of chronic ill health where one falls foul of ‘every bug going around’.
Because change is the one great constant in the universe, it appears stress is here to stay and is pretty much unavoidable. We are told that stress can also be a positive thing as it stimulates and challenges, creating diversity and variety of experiences, hence growth and development. So it might be useful to try and ‘go with the flow’. One way to do this is to instigate some form of compensatory mechanism.
A healthy approach might mean a Stress – Relax cycle. This is reminiscent of the Chinese Yin – Yang Cycle, whereby the two energies interact and balance each other. Recouperative relaxation, i.e., deep relaxation, can come in many forms, both active and passive. The goal is twofold: to sustain both the body and mind in the face of stress and to explore the way stress manifests itself personally, to find ‘other ways of being or perceiving’, in case we are – heaven forbid – being our own worst enemies somehow! A Yin –Yang balance means harmonious functioning – homeostasis. Next article will look at an important passive aspect of recovery from stress – a good night’s sleep.
To find out more how Counselling, Acupuncture & Massage can help you with stress-related complaints, please contact Michael Finn on 0411 537 394 or send him a message via the Contact link on the Homepage.
Health and Safety Executive, 2011.Stress-related and psychological illness [online]. Available: https://www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/causdis/stress/scale.htm
NHS Choices, 2011. Stress Management [online]. Available: https://www.nhs.uk/livewell/stressmanagement/Pages/Stressmanagementhome.aspx