As a stress management consultant, through dealing with clients over the course of years, I've discovered that the common causes of stress such as work, family and finances are increasingly only part of a series of larger, complex social, economic, political and environmental issues which we face daily in our technologically-wired world. With the world getting smaller by the day due to the upsurge of connecting platforms, gadgets in our hands or hovering over our heads, we must consider a whole spectrum of variables as to what constitutes the experiences of stress and distress. It's a new day when it comes to identifying stressors and resolving them. It's as though there's a more intense "stress architecture" surrounding us like a morphogenetic field.
In 1980, linguist George Lakoff, outlined how our society had become so war-like because the language had been infiltrated by metaphors of conflict and war. We approach life in many respects as "a matter of war." "It's a jungle out there so arm yourself before you go to Wall St." If one keeps declaring war as the way of resolving conflict, one will have war everywhere one looks.
From a stress management point of view, we would go far to become aware of our habituated use of these metaphors and seek to exchange them for alternative ways of thinking about situations and challenges. Our tendency to war, both in the family at the workplace and probably nationally may shift accordingly over time.
The work of Marshall Rosenberg's Non-violent communication (NVC) as a model for responsible, respectful speaking for Self and Other could also take us far in evolving beyond what author Arundhati Roy, among others of us, aptly calls "War Talk," into a more mature form of communication.
My work with individuals, couples and groups over the years has shown me how language, intention and feeling affect the quantum field, or as biologist Rupert Sheldrake called them morphogenetic fields. When using empathy exercises such as role-playing and Therapeutic Theater (my variation of psychodrama), I have seen over and again how the work done in the session has effects in the "outside" world.
Through conversations conducted with authenticity and heart with people who are not present but who are invoked, has led to unexpected phone calls or visits to the person in the session "doing" the work. What has come of this over and again are more harmonious relations, gentler, more humble and heartfelt than the more conflicted "warring" communications prior to the sessions.
This indicates a presence of what is referred to in quantum physics as "The Butterfly Effect," which is to say that everything in the holographic universe is affecting "everything else." Sometimes that effect is minute, but sometimes that is all that is needed to improve relations in a family, between lovers or at the job.
What seems to be causing a good deal of distress these days isn't even illegal drugs but legal ones, which in turn have been leading to the use of their less expensive illegal counterpart.
We have been trained to interpret discomfort, pain, upset, emotion or change of mood as opportunity for either the blue pill or the red. It is not a big surprise that we have a pandemic of drug use and abuse beyond reasonable or ironically, "healthy" proportion. The TV drug advertising has gotten so out of hand that the AMA itself has decided to intervene in this blatant excess.
As a result of this pursuit and the society we've created, so far from the rhythms and cycles of Nature which ironically govern us anyway, we've created a complex series of imbalances which show up in our troubled health, our values, sense of meaning and the presence or absence of our sense of well-being. It shows up as excess stress in our psyches, our emotional lives and in our bodies.
I'm suggesting that the quantity and quality of destruction caused by military actions, human trafficking, people fleeing their native countries, greed, anger, aggression and hostility expressed locally and globally are so great that it has formed a global "stress architecture" to which we are all subject and from which, to varying degrees, we all suffer.
It should also be noted that stress and distress are both interpretations of experience, not the experience itself. What might be perceived as stressful to one could be distressful to another or a joyful "walk in the park" to yet another.
At the same time, the seriousness of the issues before us in society at large is not to be under-estimated in distress potential. These deserve to be looked at as adding excessively to our stress levels, thereby compromising our immune systems and contributing to a sense of apathy and malaise from which society is suffering, yet the remedies, as mentioned earlier, are before us.
Responsible use of language, focusing on sustaining harmonious, healthy relationships, balancing our work with play, spending more time in nature, laughing more and taking action for the public good, in short, becoming stewards of our family and community, balance out our lives and can significantly boost our health and well-being in the midst of what is a chaotic world.
Mindfulness, meditation, being present, the creative use of our mind and brain, plenty of healthy eating, loving and sex, good exercise, sleeping habits, play, artistic, creative expression, all the while living in integrity all go a long way in maintaining a healthy balance.
In the midst of our world, we do experience significant stressors many of which stimulate growth and help us to adapt to varying conditions. The good news is that at the same time we have such powerful means to mature and evolve our human species to a point where, while stress is a natural part of living, I believe we have the emotional intelligence to get to a point of reducing the unnecessary stress down to a low roar.