Use a stress ball, don’t become one

Have you ever been hit by stress – it’s something that can happen to anyone, you don’t have to be weak or stupid to be affected, all it needs very often is for something to happen to you that drags you just a few degrees out of your ‘comfort zone’! Stress can strike anyone, at any time and for almost any reason. A soldier under fire becomes stressed, (and who wouldn’t?), a motorist, on his way to the birth of his first son, caught in an impregnable traffic jam will become stressed – I’ve suffered this one myself! Or a girl walking along a city street at two in the morning and hearing male footsteps behind her would most likely feel pretty stressed as well. So would anyone who can’t stand heights, finding themselves for whatever reason, on the edge of a very high cliff. And look at how many people dread flying, even though it is one of the safest forms of transport!

The point is, I guess that the world around us is full of stressful situations all the time, it’s a regular part of life, and it may even be necessary to us all so that we function properly. If we lived in a world where everything was perfect, nothing ever went wrong, and we were never presented with any form of danger, life would hardly be worth living. Would it? We would no doubt become vegetative, a situation that would drive most of us mad after a very short period. On that basis, I suppose stress is very much like a drug, it reacts with our sub-conscious, keeping us ‘on our toes’ and fully capable of responding to the world around us.

Stress is a word that can also include fear, anger, sadness, anxiety and many other, usually unpleasant feelings. However, it doesn’t have to destroy, as it does on many occasions, it can create as well, pumping various chemicals through our bodies, like adrenalin and the hormones that define our sexuality, our temperament and our emergency bodily functions. The old adage, “flight or fight” refers to our responses in stress situations, and to a large extent it is the chemical content of our blood which decides for us which we should do. For instance, an alcoholic, with the chemicals that make up beer, wine or spirits inside him, is much more likely to face up to a dangerous situation than a sober person, which is why a lot of drunks get involved in fights.

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Of course, it’s not just the dangerous situations that can bring on stress; it can be something tiny in other people, but massive in your own mind, like going to the dentist. I guess I’m lucky in that I don’t fear the dentist at all, especially with the modern drugs and equipment used these days. However, I know several big, strong men who would rescue trapped people from a fallen building, but who haven’t visited a dentist since they left school, because of the stress brought on by their fear. Strange how a hypodermic syringe can have much the same effect on some people as well!

There are the truly silly situations too – for instance, my wife and I get very stressed if we have to take one of our cats to the vet, for whatever reason. We always think the worse is going to happen, the animal is only moping slightly, but we become convinced the vet is going to say he can’t do anything, except put the animal down. And we think this, quite seriously, even though it has never happened to us!

No, the fact is, as I said earlier, it can happen to any of us, at any time, we just need to learn how to live with it – and how stressful is that, trying to learn how to live with it?

How do you deal with stress in your life?  What is the most common reason for stress?

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