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Have we got the stress question wrong?

I was asked to write a blog piece for the forthcoming CamExpo in London, where I’m speaking.  They posed a question for us to respond to thus; “In 2015 the top five causes of stress internationally, are said to be; money, self-pressure, lack of sleep, work-load and health. What do you think is the best treatment that practitioners can offer their clients suffering with stress?”

Having pondered the question, I wondered if we are approaching stress from the wrong angle, so I wrote….

Stress is so often treated as a problem, as though it’s an illness that we can treat. It’s a natural response, it’s part of us and how we work. Without it, no species can compete and Darwin’s theory falls flat on its face. Without it, no Olympic Golds, no iPhone, no ‘better’ anything.

The question cites a short list of factors, which can create expectation and it really depends on how we react to those expectations as to whether or not we find them stressful. We need to weigh up what we want from our lives and decide how we measure ‘success’. There is no longer the first world/third world divide in measuring success by economics. That is now the universal marker – money and how to attain it. Everything in life is traded and so from that short list, the pursuit of financial success will need to be paid for with everything else on the list. It is all a matter of degree. Stress can only be measured by our response to that trade.

The pursuit of one thing at the cost of others will bring about imbalance and if our expectations are high, we will – if our bodies hold up – suffer a great deal of imbalance to achieve. No Olympic Gold is easily won. If, on the other hand, we have to suffer imbalances for someone else to benefit, then our tolerance will be low and our stress response will be high and negative. It is only determining what we do to redress that balance for us as individuals, that will ‘treat’ the stress response.

Whether a person takes to the floatation tank or kick boxing as an adrenal release is as subjective as music or art, but the adrenalin must be expressed. The quick acute release of adrenalin may save your life, but the chronic slow release, like a dripping tap will damage the organism in myriad ways.

As a therapist, I work with people to find ways of redressing their imbalances. I practice a lot of disciplines, but my specialism is in creating more efficient minds and bodies through breathing, posture and mobility. I refer out to nutritionists, life coaches, personal trainers and yoga and dance teachers for people to find what works for them.

Let us perhaps not treat stress as a 21st century illness. Unless we help clients find what is balance for them, stress will remain a shadow we can’t fight, because it’s in all of us all the time. In a world with a zillion ‘stress-relief’ products and packages, have we lost sight of the simplicity of the Yin and Yang symbol?

In balance, there is no stress.

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