As someone who writes about health from a broad perspective, I’ve had my mind for quite a while on the frequently occurring tragedies which have happened here in the US the last 10-15 years. I will spare you a recount of the sadness.
If I had to point to one cause, I’d put the blame largely on stress.
One of the best books I ever read in college was “Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers“, which was required reading for Dr. Ken Matheny’s ‘Stress Management’ course.
The Bottom Line? Our minds can make us sick, in many different ways. People who are sick and a society with sick elements is capable of producing very bad events. Plus, as much as the utopians and utilitarians of the world would like us to believe otherwise, people are capable of evil. Stress and the existence of evil are a bad combination.
Consider the nature of stress. We have the ability to reason and think abstractly, but we also have the ability to make ourselves miserable. Why else would someone who seemingly has everything, like Lindsey Lohan or Health Ledger, implode?
Many things can cause stress- poverty, physical illness, natural disaster, debt, the loss of a job, a loved one, or a home, war, natural disasters, political instability, moving, unhealthy relationships, lack of sleep, lack of social cohesion, poor nutrition, dysfunctional family life, loneliness, pointless busyness, technology, pathological personality disorders, and the list goes on.
What do these things have in common? They can all make us feel as though we’re losing control. Stress is intimately involved with control. If you feel like you have no control over your life, stress is the result.
Ironically, stress is a matter of perspective. Consider Victor Frankyl, holocaust and concentration camp survivor and author of the popular book “Man’s Search for Meaning.” Despite living through overwhelming circumstances of stress and evil, Frankyl learned to change his perspective by maintaining his dignity and ended up turning something horribly bad into something good.
“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms, to choose one’s attitude in any given circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” -Victor Frankyl
Stress can be good, and stress can be bad. Stress can make us stronger, but it can also be overwhelming. In many cases, bad things happen and there is absolutely nothing we can do about it, except cope. Where does this bring us, and what can you do about stress and chaos around you?
Developing coping strategies is THE way to handle stress.
- Plan for the future, reminisce on the past, but also enjoy the moment.
- Set boundaries.
- Write in a journal or pray or meditate so you can become aware of what you’re thinking about and how it might be affecting your health.
- Become physically fit so you will have more energy and feel better.
- Avoid high calorie meals and processed foods, they will make you feel lousy.
- Become more faithful. The science tells us that faith is good for us.
- Get out of bad debt and don’t expect buying things to make you happy.
- Sleep, rest, and just as importantly, play.
- Develop a social circle of positive friends and be a good friend to others.
- Get rid of negative influences in your life.
- Turn off the technology from time to time.
- Get out in the sunshine.
- Set goals and have a project.
- Get a dog.
- Laugh and have fun.
- Get a hobby, or three.
- Learn new work skills, in case you’re without work.
- Learn to see what good can come in every situation.
- If you need help, go to a counselor.
- Reach out and help others who might be going through overwhelming stress which you don’t know about.
- Consider taking vitamin supplements which are related to mood and outlook- Vitamin D, Fish Oil Supplements, and Multivitamins.
- Find something you love.
Knowing how to deal with stress and chaos makes all the difference.