Have you ever wondered how much stress is doing a number on you and your life? Well, I found out today, the HARD way.
Normally, I'm quite a patient person and always give everyone the benefit of the doubt. More often than not, I tend to give far too much of that, but today, I found myself leaping to a conclusion that I really normally wouldn't have done. And, in leaping to that conclusion, I "reacted" rather uncharacteristically towards a comment someone had made.
I know that I'm only human that I have the same tendencies as everyone else, but it really bothers me to misjudge anyone or anything.
It was only at the point where I recognized just how "impatient" I had become that I realized how stressed I really was. It's taken me by surprise because I thought that I was handling things very well. Obviously, I wasn't and that is where I realized that a lot of us are running around half-cocked, ready to shoot at the first available target without even realizing it because we are stressed.
Stress is really sneaky. It lurks on what I'll call a "sub-level", one that we're not even aware exists. It hides in our thoughts which we push to the backs of our minds, but it's there. Stress tightens up our thinking into narrowed fields that remain on the surface. It prevents us from doing the deeper thinking that we'd normally engage in before making any decisions or having any reactions. It dulls our conscious thinking and causes us to react with either a bodily malfunction or a rational approach. Indeed, it ROBS us all of so much.
While I had a number of things that needed to be done today that were really weighing quite heavily in my mind and putting pressure on me, I felt like I was rushing around with this heavy bag of cement on my shoulders. One for each shoulder. It wasn't until I was standing in a line, waiting for service, tapping my toe impatiently, ready to literally SNAP, jaws tightly clenched, sighing every 10 seconds or so that I suddenly realized just how tense I was.
As I walked out to the parking lot, having accomplished what I'd set out to do, I suddenly felt like a rubber band that had been stretched way too far and knew that if I didn't calm down, I was going to be in two pieces or more.
At that very moment, I decided to take a moment, take a deep breath and allow the tense muscles to just relax just a bit. There was a soda machine nearby and it was a nice day, so I grabbed a bottle of soda (diet of course) and stood, watching people pass by me.
People hustled and bustled past me like there was some emergency situation about to happen and this was their last chance to get everything done that they needed to get done. People's heads were down. They were bumping into others, swearing out of car windows at one another and children were being scolded and dragged along by one arm, nearly on tip-toes by harried parents. Shoulders hunched, tensed brows, steps quickened, loud angry sounding tones to voices, no one looking at anyone else.
As I stood there, sipping this nice cold diet soda and watching people do this, I realized that I wasn't the only one feeling pressured and stressed. Practically EVERYONE had similar reactions. I wondered at that moment, how it is that we have become a world so full of stress and tension?
We have all of the luxuries of life. A lot of people now have laundry facilities to do our washing, vacuums to take the place of sweeping and dusting, telephone answering machines to screen our calls and "take messages", dishwashers to do our dishes for us! What the heck are we so stressed over?
I noticed that at least every third person had a cell phone pressed against their ear. Even drivers were talking on cells while trying to drive their cars! Has technology created even more stess on us?
I truly believe that the answer to that question is a definite YES! It allows us to multi-task and that has to cause stress, even mentally! We simply are not able to fully concentrate on one thing at a time. Technology is creating the opportunities to take everything with us or, at the least, do many things at the same time. This keeps our minds in overdrive! It's constantly working on several tasks, not just one!
We're no longer just driving, walking, doing laundry or simply walking! We're talking on phones, programming a blackberry, loading our dishwashers, walking, driving, keeping up with the office on a laptop on a simple ride to work! We are not just doing one thing at a time anymore. Nor, are we getting the physical exercise that is so important to alleviating stress reactions physiologically anymore. Even now, I'm writing this on a laptop computer, while on hold, waiting for someone to return to me on my end because they've got someone else on the other line of their cell phone while driving home from work! We can't even just TALK to one person anymore! Technology has created the possibility to do many things at one time and worse than that, it's created a society that doesn't feel like we're doing what we need to do unless we're doing three things at the same time!
So, what am I going to do about my own stress now?
I'm going to shut down this computer, turn off my cell phone, ignore my home phone, make myself a hot cup of tea and I'm going to sit on my front porch and just watch the birds go by!
THEN, I'm going to sit in a hot bath because my muscles have taken a beating today!
Hope that you'll do the same. Turn off the technology for at least an hour a day!