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What is it with Stress these days?

Taken from:
Saanich News January 2005

Paul Beckow M.Sc. R.P.C.
Individual, Couple, and Family Counsellor

Dear Paul,
Christmas was supposed to be joyful and festive. I found it hectic and difficult. I'm now back at work and majorly stressed. It feels like there's something wrong with me. What is it with stress these days?

Dear Lynn,

It's quite evident stress is a significant problem for many of us today. You just have to look at how much money Canadians are spending on prescription drugs to see that stress is rampant. We have come to accept stress as a sign of the times, something that we have to endure, have to live with.

Nothing is wrong with you Lynn. However something is missing with the way we understand stress. We have a model or view of stress that leaves us quite inefffective in dealing with it.

What is this view?

We believe that stress is something we "get" directly from the events outside ourselves. We believe that - "It makes me feel..."

Notice this model doesn't give us a lot of power, if gives the cirumstances the power. It is not "being in the bank line up" that makes you annoyed.

It's not "your husband coming home late for dinner" that makes you upset. Yet we live our lives as if it is.

Consider that stress is not brought about by events of life but produced by what we are saying to ourselves about events.

We fail to see the impact of our mind's chatter in creating our experience. And we are talking to ourselves all the time. This is so simple.

We do massage, relaxation practices, meditation, retreat to bed, jog, seek entertainment, do yoga, take pain killers, visualize beaches, take vacations to get rid of our stress.

All of these are limited and temporary remedies, after the fact. They do not akcnowledge the true source of much of our stress.

It is what we say to ourselves that creates the greater part of our stress.

Our words and our persepectives are powerful.

"This should be that way". That is wrong" "I hate doing this."

Physiologists say our body is like a chemical laboratory that reacts, gets all stirred up, in perfect sync with our internal chatter.

When we begin to appreciate this fact, we begin to have some real ability to look after ourselves and our state of well being. We become a "state manager".

Last week, I was inspired by two dear friends who have been building their dream home. The house was completely destroyed by a fire. My friend sharing with me their reaction, after several days of seeing their home destroyed, shared with me:

" On the third day I woke up, turned to my wife, and I said: "Okay enough. Today, honey, we begin to rebuild!"

Now that is looking after your well being in difficult circumstances.

Looking after our well being is a skill worth cultivating. It begins as you refuse to accept stress as "normal" and "out there" and use our stress to signal the need for a simple correction within ourselves.

In this view stress becomes a reminder, a trigger, that we've lost our balance, our perspective, and a call for a correction.

We regain our prespective by examining our state and challenging our own views. What "stories" are we telling ourselves? Are they really true? Does our "story" support and empower us? If not why not drop it? What about creating some new views that bring greater ease?

Dropping and inventing perspectives can be magical. For many of us this is a new and exciting practice. It is the beginning of really taking on our well being.

Paul Beckow is a certified individual, marriage, and family therapist. He can be reached at the Victoria Family Institute at 721 2477 or through his website at www:paulbeckow.com

For personal or couple counselling, for more information, or to register for a course - please contact Paul Beckow at The Victoria Family Institute.

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