As I move around the city and pick a spot to write, I am continually aware of how much stress is generated and how it affects people. Stress is everywhere and comes from all manner of sources including: pressure within employment, lack of employment, money, ill health and a hundred and one other fitting things which are cause for concern for each individual. Stress has become so much a part of our daily life that I regularly hear from friends and acquaintances when life is going smoothly anxiety sets in because there is nothing to worry about! The reasoning to support this is the belief that something of epic proportions must be brewing and will therefore pull the rug from under our unsuspecting feet leaving us floundering. How have we got to this stage?
Lifestyle is one line of accountability. The desire for more money to afford material items, multiple vacations and expensive houses while socially being able to afford a certain level of status is one cause. For other families it may be as basic as trying to earn enough to provide food and shelter, for others it will be pulling out all the stops in order to offer a good education for their children, but the thread that binds all of these factors together is that in some capacity stress is the common denominator.
One of the many pearls of wisdom that my mum taught me which in hindsight I didn’t fully understand at the time, is that life is all about the power of choice. We as humans are blessed to be able to choose. Those living in the more developed countries have a greater choice as freedom comes into the equation too, but ultimately we have choice. Ranging from whether we decide to brush our teeth in the morning to what type of job and career we want to pursue, it all originates back to that same word. This is why when I look around at stress, the different methods of dealing with and subsequently decreasing it, there are always options. Maybe it’s not a quick fix by any means but taking baby steps to slowly make small life changes has an effect.
A previous work colleague and I were having a conversation which left me feeling frustrated. I had often heard him complain about how he wasn’t enjoying his job and that it was stressful which was true. He regularly spoke of what he’d ideally like to do and I asked him why he wasn’t pursuing those aspirations. His response was that he had children to provide for, a mortgage and bills to pay. I asked him what was stopping him from actually implementing this and he didn’t understand my question so I rephrased it by saying, ‘why can’t you make the changes that would allow you to pursue this life?’ Once again he told me that he had responsibilities and that I didn’t understand because I wasn’t in his position. Granted I wasn’t, I still have no mortgage and no dependents it’s just me. In my eyes just because that’s my situation doesn’t mean I don’t have responsibilities, they’re just different. Walking away I realized this man doesn’t appreciate he has been given the gift of choice. What was interesting to me from what I knew was that his children were in private schools and he owned a large house. The bottom line was that he wasn’t willing to change that. It wasn’t a matter of having to work in that job it was the choices he made that meant he required an income of ‘X’ amount to continue this lifestyle. This is no judgment it is simply an observation that like so many people, they walk through life forgetting they are the only ones who can change it if they wish. Sadly, he became very sick for quite some time but fortunately has since recovered. For me, I viewed this as a wake-up call to reassess life as stress manifests itself in various ways including ill health. There’s a wonderful quote which I taped to my computer when I was working which I continue to try and live by:
For me stress has an impact on my seizures. It was only when I pulled myself out of the life and stressful environment I was in was I then able to see the impact it was having upon me. I was fortunate enough to be in a position where I could move to Vancouver for six months. Being in British Columbia with its invigorating fresh air, mountains and sheer beauty gave me the opportunity to study the Bach Flower Remedies (more on that later!) and to practice yoga daily. As soon as I relaxed, there was a significant decrease in my absences. This demonstrated how something as simple as a lifestyle change, inclusive of decreasing stress can have a life altering effect on one’s health.