Lots of things can easily annoy people today. These things aren't inherently wrong or immoral, just the tougher realities of daily life. They aggravate us. There's no one to lay all the blame on, and no easy fix. But these things get under our skin, just the same. It can be hard to believe that this many years into the 'information age,' while we are all concerned about big data becoming George Orwell's Big Brother, we still don't have systems in place to solve basic problems like traffic jams and flight delays. These things don't only still happen, they still happen every day in every city.
It seems like someone could have solved these issues by now. And yet, more often than not, your mechanic can't fix your car right the first time and IRS agents cannot explain tax code. Some of us don't wonder why people get shot on our highways. Road rage is ridiculous, but so are many drivers. Why is it when we go to bed at night, it's so difficult to feel hopeful and enthusiastic about tomorrow?
Progress seems to create a hazardous waste as a byproduct. And that hazardous waste is stress. It would be difficult to find any adult under 70 today who does not feel a sense of stress much of the time. In fact, stress relief and 'coping' type drugs are among the most commonly prescribed by doctors today, for children and adults. According to the American Institute of Stress, (yeah, that really exists. Look it up at stress.org.) stress related illnesses in the United States costs $300 billion in health care and lost production annually.
One issue that makes stress such a problem is that even among health care and research professionals, we can't agree on a definition of stress. The late Hans Selye, who is regarded by many as the 'father' of stress research, defined stress as "the nonspecific response of the body to any demand made upon it." But that definition doesn't jive with popular opinion that stress is caused by unpleasant circumstances. Most people equate the cause of stress to specific circumstances, like traffic jams or tax deadlines. But stress isn't actually caused by those things. Stress is caused by our response to those things. Stress doesn't come from circumstances. It comes from our reaction to circumstances. Of course, it's far easier to avoid stress while we experience positive, pleasant circumstances. And it's much harder to avoid stress during negative, unpleasant circumstances. But regardless of our circumstances, our stress is entirely caused by our own minds.
Stress is all about our adaptation to change. We can't live a stress-free life because life is constantly changing. The goal with stress management isn't to eliminate stress but to control it. There are different types of stress. Distress is a negative and destructive version of stress, while eustress is a positive, constructive version. Isn't it interesting that almost everyone is used to the negative version, but very few people are familiar with the positive one? And there's one more type of stress, hyperstress. As you might have guessed, this one is bad, too.
But we can use stress to our advantage. In fact, we often do without even knowing it. Eustress is what happens when we get 'worked up' before the big game or uber efficient in the last hour before an assignment is due. But most of the time, we only notice stress when it feels negative and...stressful.
The 9th Day - 7 Ways