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Discussion #26 - Stress

As everyone knows, too-frequent/intense or long-term stress is one of the nastiest ways to go through life. We all have some, it's normal, unavoidable, even healthy in the right doses. In the wrong doses/duration, it can lead to some very serious health issues, & greatly accelerate the aging process. As I am not a Doctor, I will leave these to the professionals. What I can discuss, is some ways that I've found to (greatly) reduce continuous, too-frequent, or too-intense stress.

It really does boil down to a lifestyle choice. There are, of course, certain situations that are unavoidable; the death of a loved one, an abusive or neglected childhood, among others. In this post, I would like to discuss ways to reduce the more controllable forms of stress. The types which are basically a result of choices that we make every day, & usually many times a day.

One of the biggest (controllable) forms of stress, is what I call "relationship stress" (usually marriage). If you are currently married, have ever been married, or have come close to being married, then you know exactly what I'm referring to. Don't get me wrong, there are tons of reasons why being married is a great way to go through life (going on 27 years for me). It's just that when conflicts do arise, they can get pretty brutal & stressful. Ask any police officer, & they will tell you that domestic disputes are the ones they fear the most!

The reasons for this are complex, but in a nutshell, it really is just choices made by both parties every single day. The biggest choice is always; are we going to fight to get our way, compromise, or just give in. In many cases, it is one person or the other who is "giving in" most of the time. This person (male or female) is not necessarily the weaker willed of the two. It usually means that he/she is just far more interested in keeping the peace. (Usually because they realize what a number this form of stress does on the human body).

If this arrangement is ok with both parties, then great. If it's not, then there are 3 possible solutions. 1. Communicate with each other (not the yelling/screaming form). It sounds simple, but you would be surprised how many couples never do it (about anything below the surface). 2. Seek professional help (a marriage counsellor or similar). 3. Well, you already know what 3 is. I strongly advise against #3, as the same issues will likely occur with the next person. Sometimes just the knowledge that we all love to be in control of our lives (some more than others), is all that it takes for these problems to greatly diminish.

We all have a vast amount of control over most forms of stress, we just need to flex our God-given will-power muscles to get the desired results. This does not mean laze around like a bum, as hard work can be one of the most stress-reducing activities in existence! The stress hormones (adrenaline, cortisol, norepinephrine, & others) are extremely powerful chemicals. In normal doses, they are healthy. In excess, they do serious harm.

I personally believe that a healthy dose of stress, every now & then, once in a while, is extremely healthy. Let's face it, if life on earth were completely sterilized, to the point of no adversity or hardships whatsoever, we would all literally die of boredom. On top of this, is the fact that much of our character is built on these hardships and challenges. What keeps life so intensely exciting & interesting, are in fact the many risks, perils & challenges that exist in this world.

Most stress is not the result of too much work, but rather human relationships that just aren't always going super-smooth. If this is an issue for you, try being nicer to the people around you. It will almost definitely mean people will be nicer back to you, resulting in a much less stressful lifestyle. Also, do not become a human door-mat & let people walk all over you. This will not help a bit. There is a way of standing your ground, & still being nice about it.

Niceness is not a sign of unintelligence like many believe, it's actually quite the opposite. The key is respect, this is ultimately what people really want, in any form of human relationship. To be strong in character is completely the opposite of being vicious and mean-spirited. If you stop and analyze the people who are the most successful in life (wealth AND health), strength of character combined with being genuinely a nice person is what you will find.

Another huge aspect of health, happiness, and life on planet earth, is the many common addictive substances that most consume in some form. By far the biggest reason for this is stress reduction. Smoking, overeating, excessive drinking & other forms of drug abuse. The abuse of these substances is generally for 2 reasons only; entertainment and relaxation. There are chemical addictions that kick in very quickly with these, but we are all responsible and possess the necessary "will power" to overcome any addiction if we so choose. I personally have only struggled with one of these addictions in my life; overeating, so I will only elaborate on this one.

Go diet shopping! Pick a diet that doesn't drive you nuts! There's plenty to choose from and most of them work! It's far more important to find this magical diet (if it exists) than to follow or try the latest trendy diet (or the one your friend suggests). To follow any diet for a short period of time is futile (and unhealthy), as your weight will just return when you stop. Whatever "diet" you choose must be something you can live with for the rest of your mortal life. Otherwise, don't bother torturing yourself for nothing! The word "diet" does not mean "temporary", like most think.

Overeating is by far the biggest addiction in the richer countries, and the most commonly used for stress reduction. It (like all the others) causes intense endorphin production in the brain which in turn causes the "rush". Some need far more stimulation than others to "get the job done" in life, and eating is one of the easiest and most affordable methods (in the richer countries). There is definitely a genetic metabolic rate factor involved, but you will likely never find anyone even remotely overweight in poor countries where very little food is available. With us, food is everywhere!

A good indicator of how stressful your day is/was, is the darkness of your urine. The lighter the shade, the less stress chemicals have been pumped into your bloodstream recently. This is obviously not an exact measurement, as things like liquid intake amount/substance greatly affect this, but it's a great general indicator.

Humanity is now heading into a much more stressful era in our microevolution, mainly due to the elevated levels of career competition, along with an increasingly turbo-stimulated typical lifestyle. Both have been heating up dramatically in just the past 20 years or so. Our physical biology has simply not had time to catch up with this evolutionary process, which is occurring mainly in the more affluent societies. When you go back a bit further, say to the pioneer days, life was much harder, but it was mainly physical labour. The changes in our lifestyles have been so dramatic in the last 100 years (not long in the grand scheme of history), that there is no chance whatsoever of our biology keeping up.

It's an extremely wise idea to take some healthy steps to keep your daily stress in check. I strongly recommend injecting more light exercise (just plain walking is amazing), especially if you do a lot of intense thinking, or have a stressful career. In Europe (for example), there is very little obesity (compared with North America), mainly because the vast majority walk everywhere, even as a form of transportation. In North America, we tend to drive. Light exercise burns off stress chemicals (as well as calories).

Sure there's always the gym, but how much fun is that, and how many of us actually keep going after New Year's? It's difficult to stay motivated with the gym, because nothing productive really happens there, aside from the goal of getting/staying fit. Sports can be fun, but you have to watch out for those pesky injuries. Running and jogging are also great, but are generally fairly hard on the joints. A few hundred years ago, we were actually being productive with our physical activity. Most were farming, or building things, etc. Now, the "high end" jobs are mostly thinking jobs, which is good in a way, as our brain needs to stay fit too, but does not encourage a lot of physical activity. This issue is also a big part of the reason why high blood pressure is becoming such a common problem in our modern culture.

A high stress lifestyle can also lead to obesity in a major way, both from overeating, and also from adverse chemical processes in the body. It's also wise to be aware of your basic personality type. If you are biologically wired to be type "A", then "go, go, go" is likely your main mantra in life. There is nothing inherently wrong with this, as it normally feeds your soul in many ways (& is great for productivity). If however, you are not wired for it, this can get a little tricky. You may have a job or career that demands it, and may view this as a job requirement. As career competition heats up, this is becoming more and more common. However, a little lollygagging now & then (for most people), is extremely therapeutic and healthy for the soul.

I will mention this next point with as much tact and diplomacy as possible, but there is also another family of endocrine-produced hormones which tend to eat the stress family for breakfast. I'll give you a hint (from the '60's era); make love, not war.

Although the medical industry can definitely perform some amazing feats of healing, they obviously cannot fix many of the medical problems and conditions that could potentially develop, and that we have a great deal of control over. It's becoming well known that long-term stress & anxiety reduction is the best overall method of preventing many of these illnesses from developing in the first place.

Nearly half the western world is on anxiety, depression, or mind altering medication of some form or fashion (43% of North Americans), & this number is steadily climbing. There is actually a low-level noise floor of anxiety that is developing in much of the world, & very few are even aware of it.

Pay attention to the inner functioning of your body. Listen to it, it's trying to tell you things. Pay attention to which mental and physical activities are stressing you out, and which ones are calming you down (or exciting you). In most cases, (your own) mind control and will power are far more powerful and effective at reducing stress than any medication will ever be. Learning how to control your own stress & anxiety levels is like learning to ride a bike. Once you figure out the technique, you'll never forget. This is especially important in the area of quality sleep.

To a very large degree, life is just stressful, and learning to deal with it is a far better plan than attempting to eradicate it completely from your life (as this is not even possible). To some degree, it's a good idea to learn to be relatively thick-skinned. Life is complex, and there is no one on earth who has this completely figured out. In many ways, this is one of the biggest "survival" issues in life.
Discussion #26 - Stress

As everyone knows, too-frequent/intense or long-term stress is one of the nastiest ways to go through life. We all have some, it's normal, unavoidable, even healthy in the right doses. In the wrong doses/duration, it can lead to some very serious health issues, & greatly accelerate the aging process. As I am not a Doctor, I will leave these to the professionals. What I can discuss, is some ways that I've found to (greatly) reduce continuous, too-frequent, or too-intense stress.

It really does boil down to a lifestyle choice. There are, of course, certain situations that are unavoidable; the death of a loved one, an abusive or neglected childhood, among others. In this post, I would like to discuss ways to reduce the more controllable forms of stress. The types which are basically a result of choices that we make every day, & usually many times a day.

One of the biggest (controllable) forms of stress, is what I call "relationship stress" (usually marriage). If you are currently married, have ever been married, or have come close to being married, then you know exactly what I'm referring to. Don't get me wrong, there are tons of reasons why being married is a great way to go through life (going on 27 years for me). It's just that when conflicts do arise, they can get pretty brutal & stressful. Ask any police officer, & they will tell you that domestic disputes are the ones they fear the most!

The reasons for this are complex, but in a nutshell, it really is just choices made by both parties every single day. The biggest choice is always; are we going to fight to get our way, compromise, or just give in. In many cases, it is one person or the other who is "giving in" most of the time. This person (male or female) is not necessarily the weaker willed of the two. It usually means that he/she is just far more interested in keeping the peace. (Usually because they realize what a number this form of stress does on the human body).

If this arrangement is ok with both parties, then great. If it's not, then there are 3 possible solutions. 1. Communicate with each other (not the yelling/screaming form). It sounds simple, but you would be surprised how many couples never do it (about anything below the surface). 2. Seek professional help (a marriage counsellor or similar). 3. Well, you already know what 3 is. I strongly advise against #3, as the same issues will likely occur with the next person. Sometimes just the knowledge that we all love to be in control of our lives (some more than others), is all that it takes for these problems to greatly diminish.

We all have a vast amount of control over most forms of stress, we just need to flex our God-given will-power muscles to get the desired results. This does not mean laze around like a bum, as hard work can be one of the most stress-reducing activities in existence! The stress hormones (adrenaline, cortisol, norepinephrine, & others) are extremely powerful chemicals. In normal doses, they are healthy. In excess, they do serious harm.

I personally believe that a healthy dose of stress, every now & then, once in a while, is extremely healthy. Let's face it, if life on earth were completely sterilized, to the point of no adversity or hardships whatsoever, we would all literally die of boredom. On top of this, is the fact that much of our character is built on these hardships and challenges. What keeps life so intensely exciting & interesting, are in fact the many risks, perils & challenges that exist in this world.

Most stress is not the result of too much work, but rather human relationships that just aren't always going super-smooth. If this is an issue for you, try being nicer to the people around you. It will almost definitely mean people will be nicer back to you, resulting in a much less stressful lifestyle. Also, do not become a human door-mat & let people walk all over you. This will not help a bit. There is a way of standing your ground, & still being nice about it.

Niceness is not a sign of unintelligence like many believe, it's actually quite the opposite. The key is respect, this is ultimately what people really want, in any form of human relationship. To be strong in character is completely the opposite of being vicious and mean-spirited. If you stop and analyze the people who are the most successful in life (wealth AND health), strength of character combined with being genuinely a nice person is what you will find.

Another huge aspect of health, happiness, and life on planet earth, is the many common addictive substances that most consume in some form. By far the biggest reason for this is stress reduction. Smoking, overeating, excessive drinking & other forms of drug abuse. The abuse of these substances is generally for 2 reasons only; entertainment and relaxation. There are chemical addictions that kick in very quickly with these, but we are all responsible and possess the necessary "will power" to overcome any addiction if we so choose. I personally have only struggled with one of these addictions in my life; overeating, so I will only elaborate on this one.

Go diet shopping! Pick a diet that doesn't drive you nuts! There's plenty to choose from and most of them work! It's far more important to find this magical diet (if it exists) than to follow or try the latest trendy diet (or the one your friend suggests). To follow any diet for a short period of time is futile (and unhealthy), as your weight will just return when you stop. Whatever "diet" you choose must be something you can live with for the rest of your mortal life. Otherwise, don't bother torturing yourself for nothing! The word "diet" does not mean "temporary", like most think.

Overeating is by far the biggest addiction in the richer countries, and the most commonly used for stress reduction. It (like all the others) causes intense endorphin production in the brain which in turn causes the "rush". Some need far more stimulation than others to "get the job done" in life, and eating is one of the easiest and most affordable methods (in the richer countries). There is definitely a genetic metabolic rate factor involved, but you will likely never find anyone even remotely overweight in poor countries where very little food is available. With us, food is everywhere!

A good indicator of how stressful your day is/was, is the darkness of your urine. The lighter the shade, the less stress chemicals have been pumped into your bloodstream recently. This is obviously not an exact measurement, as things like liquid intake amount/substance greatly affect this, but it's a great general indicator.

Humanity is now heading into a much more stressful era in our microevolution, mainly due to the elevated levels of career competition, along with an increasingly turbo-stimulated typical lifestyle. Both have been heating up dramatically in just the past 20 years or so. Our physical biology has simply not had time to catch up with this evolutionary process, which is occurring mainly in the more affluent societies. When you go back a bit further, say to the pioneer days, life was much harder, but it was mainly physical labour. The changes in our lifestyles have been so dramatic in the last 100 years (not long in the grand scheme of history), that there is no chance whatsoever of our biology keeping up.

It's an extremely wise idea to take some healthy steps to keep your daily stress in check. I strongly recommend injecting more light exercise (just plain walking is amazing), especially if you do a lot of intense thinking, or have a stressful career. In Europe (for example), there is very little obesity (compared with North America), mainly because the vast majority walk everywhere, even as a form of transportation. In North America, we tend to drive. Light exercise burns off stress chemicals (as well as calories).

Sure there's always the gym, but how much fun is that, and how many of us actually keep going after New Year's? It's difficult to stay motivated with the gym, because nothing productive really happens there, aside from the goal of getting/staying fit. Sports can be fun, but you have to watch out for those pesky injuries. Running and jogging are also great, but are generally fairly hard on the joints. A few hundred years ago, we were actually being productive with our physical activity. Most were farming, or building things, etc. Now, the "high end" jobs are mostly thinking jobs, which is good in a way, as our brain needs to stay fit too, but does not encourage a lot of physical activity. This issue is also a big part of the reason why high blood pressure is becoming such a common problem in our modern culture.

A high stress lifestyle can also lead to obesity in a major way, both from overeating, and also from adverse chemical processes in the body. It's also wise to be aware of your basic personality type. If you are biologically wired to be type "A", then "go, go, go" is likely your main mantra in life. There is nothing inherently wrong with this, as it normally feeds your soul in many ways (& is great for productivity). If however, you are not wired for it, this can get a little tricky. You may have a job or career that demands it, and may view this as a job requirement. As career competition heats up, this is becoming more and more common. However, a little lollygagging now & then (for most people), is extremely therapeutic and healthy for the soul.

I will mention this next point with as much tact and diplomacy as possible, but there is also another family of endocrine-produced hormones which tend to eat the stress family for breakfast. I'll give you a hint (from the '60's era); make love, not war.

Although the medical industry can definitely perform some amazing feats of healing, they obviously cannot fix many of the medical problems and conditions that could potentially develop, and that we have a great deal of control over. It's becoming well known that long-term stress & anxiety reduction is the best overall method of preventing many of these illnesses from developing in the first place.

Nearly half the western world is on anxiety, depression, or mind altering medication of some form or fashion (43% of North Americans), & this number is steadily climbing. There is actually a low-level noise floor of anxiety that is developing in much of the world, & very few are even aware of it.

Pay attention to the inner functioning of your body. Listen to it, it's trying to tell you things. Pay attention to which mental and physical activities are stressing you out, and which ones are calming you down (or exciting you). In most cases, (your own) mind control and will power are far more powerful and effective at reducing stress than any medication will ever be. Learning how to control your own stress & anxiety levels is like learning to ride a bike. Once you figure out the technique, you'll never forget. This is especially important in the area of quality sleep.

To a very large degree, life is just stressful, and learning to deal with it is a far better plan than attempting to eradicate it completely from your life (as this is not even possible). To some degree, it's a good idea to learn to be relatively thick-skinned. Life is complex, and there is no one on earth who has this completely figured out. In many ways, this is one of the biggest "survival" issues in life.