Oh, I know. There's 'eustress' - a word and concept coined by endocrinologist Hans Seyle that's supposed to be 'good stress.' Eustress is meant to describe how a stressor is perceived and whether it's seen as negative or positive. Unfortunately, eustress seems to have become a rallying cry that certain stressors are good for us. That without 'good stress' we will become lazy, complacent, slugs on the couch with no motivation to move forward in life. Yet daily life is so full of stress for most of us that there's little chance we will ever become slugs on couches. We are, however, very much in danger of physical, psychological, relational and spiritual imbalance due to unchecked, chronic stress.
If I could pass along any message to the modern world it would be that we are not created to live in a state of stress and that our lives are most full of potential -- spiritual, and otherwise, -- when we do everything we can to reduce or eliminate stress in our lives. Surprisingly, even the medical community that gave us the word 'eustress' seems to agree now that even common, everyday, relatively benign stress can have a negative impact on our health and well-being.
We say we're stressed when we have too much work, too little time, too many demands and expectations, too much multi-tasking, too many family responsibilities, and no 'me' time. Yet, these don't hold a candle to the big stressors like loneliness, illness, trauma and death. Yet, stress is actually more stealthy than we think. Consider the subtle stresses that go by unnoticed or unacknowledged; the constant whir of engines or computers, blinking lights from digital devices (especially in the bedroom), loud music playing in stores, restaurants and even at the gas pumps; the lines we wait in just to do ordinary errands, the bings, pings, and rings of electronic devices, the interruption of 'Robo' calls from unknown telephone numbers, the clamor of social media.
There's no 'single' stressor that tips the scales leaving us distorted and unfulfilled. Rather, it's the widespread, constant attack on our peace that has the cumulative effect of leaving us with a low level of anxiety and dis-ease. This dis-ease distances us from ourselves and from God. We end up getting through our days hardly aware of getting through our days! And full, abundant life that is our birthright gets lost in the shuffle as we try to adapt and accommodate to all that modern life throws our way.
Most insidious of all is that we don't even question why we 're less than satisfied or fulfilled, why anger feels so close to the surface of our lives, why we need to escape through alcohol, drugs, retail therapy, video games, or even taking a bubble bath with candles to have 'alone' time. And, while we simply adapt to it all by telling ourselves, "That's just how life is these days," every cell in our body and every layer of our soul is crying for peace and a reduction of the pressure and stress that have become so normal to us.
I believe it's time for us to start trying to break free from all stress in our lives so we can begin to live the abundant life God intends. It doesn't come easily and it may require significant change in behavior and thinking. The reward, however, may be the recovery of a peace that has been long forgotten.
If you would like more content offering strategies for reducing and eliminating stress, leave a comment so I know if this is something that would be helpful to you!