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Post No.: 0949threat

 

Furrywisepuppy says:

 

When we’re feeling highly stressed, insecure or under threat, we become more self-focused for the sake of our self-preservation. We may therefore pay less attention to those who need greater support than us or avoid connecting with others. We can consequently exacerbate our own stresses in a vicious cycle.

 

The temperatures of animals’ ears can be a clue to their stress levels. Stress temporarily elevates our blood pressure. On it’s own, this doesn’t cause heart or circulatory diseases like heart attacks or hypertension but it can lead to behaviours that can (e.g. eating unhealthily, smoking and drinking too much alcohol).

 

Life isn’t a suffering contest(!) i.e. arguing about how one is more pressured, busier, has it tougher or has more to complain about than someone else… as if misery is some kind of badge of honour. It’s a strange contest because who truly wants to win it?!

 

Working hard may be a virtue, but there’s limited correlation between those who complain or brag about how much work they have to do and those who get the most work actually done. Some people just get on with things whilst others want a medal ceremony over every tiny thing they manage to do. So moaning about one’s life doesn’t necessarily mean one is having it worse than someone else (and I mean us looking at the mirror about this rather than thinking ‘yeah I know some other people who think they have it worse than me!’)

 

Workaholics aren’t addicted to work per se but particular kinds of work – their own comfort zones. In reality, they sacrifice time doing other kinds of work, like perhaps housework, cooking, raising a child or physical exercise. It’s like someone who says they’re addicted to food, when in fact they typically mean junk food because they’re not exactly wolfing down much broccoli or rye bread. The most resilient people have wide comfort zones more than extreme ones (e.g. the tougher, fitter and stronger person is content with either rich or bland food, or being under threat or facing monotony, without apprehension or quibble. (Post No.: 0861 examined comfort zones.) Well any addiction isn’t healthy thus it’s not good to be proud about being a workaholic.

 

Now is it brighter to be booksmart and grumpy, or dumb and happy? Well, by learning about the science of happiness – you can be both booksmart and happy! Resilient people are the true winners in life, and resilience can be trained and enhanced.

 

Under identical situations, some people feel more anxious or under threat than others. Our reactions to things aren’t objective (e.g. you might think someone you’re waiting for is slow but it could be you who’s impatient?) After all, not everyone reacts in the same ways to the exact same things (e.g. some scream, others don’t). That’s why our reactions to things speak more about us than what we’re reacting to.

 

And some people can behave quite antisocially and thoughtlessly towards others when they’re feeling quite anxious or under threat. So managing our insecurities is socially important. People who are calmer – whether innately and/or they work on being so – are usually more polite and considerate, and more effective and efficient in what they do. People who panic easily can be unpleasant people to hang around with.

 

Stress or anxiety increases our perception of threat, which focuses us on our immediate survival. And when we’re focused on our own immediate survival, we can become quite selfish, which in turn increases the likelihood of us being uncouth (like swearing at and blaming others for things or being passive-aggressive) or committing unethical behaviours like cheating. We’re thinking less about others or the wider picture or the far future because we’ll be doing whatever we can think of to survive a perceived threat right now. So stressed-out people sometimes take their anxieties and grievances unfairly out on others and put themselves first in self-preservation.

 

Easily anxious people do need our compassion however. They may have an anxiety disorder. But under critical situations, they can too easily get defensive for thinking they’re under threat when relatively little fuzzy pressure is being placed on them, and be like a ‘person down’ when one needs an able teammate. So we need to handle our anxieties.

 

Stress does this to us, but many modern stresses are self-inflicted because of this insecurity for more and more material wealth and the desire to keep up with the Joneses. We need to work to live without neglecting a healthy work-life balance – even if we attempt to justify that maximising our income is for the sake of our family, when our children would rather actually spend more time with us every week.

 

For many people, they can work less and earn less yet still obtain the exact same lifestyle if they’re savvier with their expenditures (e.g. if they shop around to obtain the same stuff but for less). So you can get the same net result, except spend less time at work and more time with your family or on other things. How much you earn means nothing without factoring in your living costs.

 

Many relatively poor people think doing best for their children and being a great parent means materialistically spoiling and giving their children whatever they want. Meanwhile, a few (self-made) wealthy people think doing best for their children means not giving them an easy financial life to de-motivate them.

 

Physical exercise is a temporary bout of stress and is beneficial for us. Temporary periods of fasting from eating can increase our lifespan. It’s the chronic or persistent stresses that are harmful and can shorten our lives, like chronic sleep deprivation and incessant work pressures. (There are a growing number of experiments being conducted in the field of ‘biohacking’ for living longer, from blood transfusions and of course various drugs – but other more proven and safer ways to maximise our longevity include consuming healthful diets that ensure a nice gut microbiome diversity, and taking our vaccinations.)

 

After adolescence and into adulthood, many of us learn to manage stress better as we age.

 

If you ever feel anxious or under threat then breathe. Breathe slowly and concentrate on that slow breathing. Stress is for the purpose of survival so realise that very few situations we face in modern life are actually truly a threat to our existence. Write your problem and how you feel down. Imagine someone else is experiencing your problem and consider what advice you’d give them? This may put it all into better, self-distanced, perspective.

 

Don’t heap blame or guilt upon yourself or others. Don’t feel upset or frustrated that something happened to you unfairly. Don’t over-exaggerate the worst of the future. Don’t be afraid of difficulty – embrace it!

 

Get a good night’s sleep. Take time out and do something else now and again to recharge and gain new inspiration and creative ideas. Focus on the solutions. Ask for help and advice. Research other people’s solutions. Confide in someone who is non-judgemental.

 

It’s not about trying to suppress or deny any severely unhappy thoughts though since trying not to think of something only makes us think of it more. We often need to be authentic in how we feel. Trying to suppress a nagging thought only makes it more persistent so recognise your feelings then put things into better perspective. Just don’t hate or wallow in sorrow as this’ll only consume your own life. Try to tackle the root cause of the problem to create closure. Or distract yourself if nothing can be done about it (e.g. take up a new hobby).

 

We’re not supposed to be happy all of the time – well we won’t be if we tried to be because, for instance, if we detested the pain of exercise thus repeatedly avoided it to feel immediately happy, we’ll eventually feel incredibly unhappy due to our poor health. We seek to be free from pain, stress, threat or discomfort – but we do need some moments with these feelings in our lives because that’s how we learn and grow. We need to push our minds to learn new things. We need to push our bodies to grow fitter. All worthwhile pursuits involve a bit of anxiety, pain, sacrifice and/or patience.

 

Negative emotions evolved to protect us too, such as to prevent us from being taken advantage of. Fear, disgust, sadness and anger evolved as useful signals thus shouldn’t always be ignored. They can protect us or tell us we’re going in the right direction because we’re venturing outside our comfort zone towards growth. If we don’t listen to our concerns but perpetually attempted to repress them, it might come back to haunt us later. Boredom and worries motivate us to do something. Not all sources of worry are therefore worthless, and trepidation isn’t an adversary – we don’t always need to fix or nullify it. It’s a feeling you have but it isn’t you. The desire to fix, to control, external events is what often fuels agitation in the first place! So let it be.

 

Recognise that without loss there’d be no growth. Okay this is like arguing that without your house burning down, you wouldn’t be driven to install fire defences – when it’d still be better to not have had your house burn down(!) hence it’d still be better to not experience loss. Notwithstanding, a full life cannot be found by always avoiding pain, nerves and other disquieting feelings. A full life isn’t found by ‘hiding away in safety’ – stress and strain are components needed for growth. A sense of forward progress and personal growth elicits a feeling of fulfilment.

 

So do look after your health. Be regularly active. Try mindfulness meditation and other well-being exercises.

 

Simply sketching what catches your attention in your surrounding place and moment is an act of mindfulness. Mindfulness isn’t about blind or excessive optimism, wishful thinking, myopic faith in the face of contrary evidence, suppressing what you don’t want to hear or over-exaggerating your desirable qualities – it’s about accepting what is. It’s precisely about attending to what’s in front of you in the here and now. Much of cognitive behavioural therapy isn’t about changing the world but about reframing the way one looks at the world.

 

Don’t get so hung up on where you want to be that you forget to live for the moment and appreciate where you currently are and what you’ve currently got. Let go of the past ‘if onlys’ and unknown future ‘what ifs’ by being mindfully in the present. When we’re simply told to ‘forget about the past’, we start to directly think of the past because attention needs to be brought to the subject matter (the past) before one can do anything about it (to forget about it). So to effectively not think of something, we must think of something else, and this is why we focus on the present.

 

We can only ever control what’s happening in the present anyway – yesterday is done and tomorrow is yet written. The past is over and cannot be changed, so live today for the present and the best of the future. Only right now is in our paws so only right now should be on our minds. Sunk costs should be forgotten about. We also cannot directly or unilaterally control most of the external world but we don’t need to if we simply control our own thoughts and perspectives. Ask yourself if an attitude or perspective is helping or harming you? And try a different one if it isn’t helpful. If negative thoughts spontaneously arise, our awareness of them as if we’re observing them from a third-person perspective enables us to question them – hence the practice of being more aware of our thoughts gives us more say as to where our thoughts will settle. The best tool against stress is the ability to choose one thought or perspective over another.

 

Woof!

 

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