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A national magazine shows a cartoon: a man sitting at a desk looking anxiously at five barometers on the nearby wall. One barometer is labeled Job Pressure, another states Financial Pressure, another reads Family Pressure, another reads Time Pressure, and the last of the five reads Social Pressure.
While looking at this cartoon, the viewer produces a knowing smile, however, no one needs to have these five barometers to remind the viewer of severe daily pressures.
Everyone lives under stress conditions of some level or another. Experts in the field of mental health commonly cite that one in four people is under some level of emotional stress that results in symptoms of depression and anxiety. This time of the year, people are supposed to be enjoying the sights, sounds, and experiences of the Christmas season (yes, I’ll call it the Christmas season). But, due to the many stresses/pressures, it is too often packed with too much pressure to produce the expected mode of people meeting “smile after smile.”
Although it is commonly known that many have jobs and responsibilities that are known as “pressure cookers” – police officers, air-traffic controllers, fire fighters, etc. Salesmen must cope with stress daily. Brokers find that in a fluctuating market, when the Dow Jones goes down, stress goes up.
Let’s not forget, also, the working mother, especially if she is the only “breadwinner” for the needs of her family. Guilt, anxiety, self-depreciation, work overload and other conflicting demands, no matter if her children are early school age or adolescents, place this woman under unbelievable stress or pressure, which she often finds to be ‘’too much,” and she can crack under the strain.
One of our ancient cultures, the Greeks, had a word, called ‘’thlipsis.” It is usually translated “affliction” or sometimes “suffering.” It really means being pressed down, squeezed by severe pressures. Sometimes in the punishing of criminals or torturing suspects, heavy weights were put on a person’s chest or head, threatening to crush the person. That is called thlipsis.
One of the more common themes presented by many people who have come to my office for counseling relates to stress or pressure. This can relate to the relationship one has in a marriage, as a parent, in ones’ employment, or a host of many other factors which have produced the need for some help. In fact, recent studies report that a full eight of 10 Americans cite the need for less stress in their lives.
One of the adolescents who I am currently engaged with in counseling, stated “being a teenager in these days and times is more difficult than it used to be.”
Well, I’m not sure if that is statistically an accurate statement because she didn’t experience what others went through during their own “days and times” when they were adolescents. Stress and pressures facing today’s teen-age population certainly expose this population to things that I wasn’t exposed to when I was an adolescent, although some of you know (who know my age) believe that this must have been a time in “ancient history.”
But my childhood years, including adolescence, were during WWII and the Korean War, when on occasion, we were instructed to “immediately get out of your seats, and get under your desks,” with the need to prepare ourselves to be a little safer if there were bombs dropped.
I believe that even being alive, no less as a teenager, during my years of growing up was also with our own stressors/pressures.
Every generation, including those yet to come, will have their own version of “these days and times,” and they will have different types and kinds of stress and pressures.
So, why not attempt to do, at least, something to address and relieve the portion that puts people on “overload?”
First of all, don’t look for a quick fix, which some have done to ease or release the symptoms. Liquor or some form and use of prescriptive or non-prescriptive drugs may help for a few hours, but the many stresses of life are not relieved for the long haul by these more common practices. These practices enrich only the alcohol and pharmaceutical industry, and will possibly alter you in ways that may affect every avenue of your personal and family life.
Another financially costly practice is like the couple who, trying to escape from the pressures of everyday life, made three trips to Walt Disney World in one calendar year.
The wife said, “It’s the one place we know where there are no pressures and everyone’s always smiling and everything works smoothly.”
The husband added, “Yes, that is a place we can go where we won’t have to deal with pressure.”
The problem, as you can imagine, is that their money runs low and they have to return to reality ... they have to go home. The fantasies can’t be maintained perpetually. The fun and the laughter and the relaxation which was experienced but is only a temporary fix.
So, what’s the answer? Can the stress and pressure, which is regularly experienced in life, be lowered? Probably not. But can I do something that is within my grasp to relieve some of this, without bringing with it some financial stressors? Yes.
Next week’s Counselor’s Corner will address some ways that can be practiced that may only cost some time, but not much money. That’s good news. Some may be old-fashioned, and maybe some may seem “tacky” but, nevertheless, can bring about some relief for you and/or your family for the long haul.
Be sure to check out next week’s column.
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