“Our lives are lived in a world we have created, not the world we were created for” – Dr. Roy Sugarman
Arianna Huffington is one of the most influential women in the world today and has worked hard and become very successful. In her book Thrive, she provides a first hand account of the impact of stress and overwork in her own life. Ms. Huffington, the creator of the Huffington Post, achieved wealth and power but suffered from overwork and exhaustion leading to her own wake-up call after collapsing from stress. Huffington goes on to document the widespread disease of stress in our modern world citing that researchers at Carnegie Mellon found that from 1983 to 2009, there was between a 10 and 30 percent increase in stress levels across all demographic categories. Higher levels of stress can lead to higher instances of diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, fully three-quarters of American health care spending goes toward treating such chronic conditions. The Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital estimates that 60 to 90 percent of doctor visits are to treat stress-related conditions.
It seems modernity is harming us as the amount of stress we experience in our lives and our technology advancements are correlated. Our biology and our technology are not totally compatible. In our modern, highly efficient world we can be harmed by devices and lifestyles that were designed to make our lives easier and more enjoyable.
Today we are frantically running around being busy but not really accomplishing things. For example we spend our time checking our Facebook pages, texting, tweeting, instagram-ing, playing fantasy sports, etc. all the while not giving our brains a rest. We wake up tired, and hurried, rushing off to work often without eating breakfast or taking the time to center ourselves for the coming day. We fight rush hour traffic to sit at a desk doing work we may not enjoy in order to afford things that don’t make us happy or bring fulfillment. We then return to our homes, after perhaps working in jobs that do not fulfill us, and then after fighting traffic to come home, we then numb ourselves with alcohol, food and or television. We feel chronically tired but get no restful sleep. We repeat this cycle day after day and wonder why we are burned out.
If the external world is contributing to our stress, we certainly are not helping ourselves if we also mistreat our bodies. For if our bodies are temples consider how we sometimes treat them and often do not give them the care they need to perform optimally.
Human beings are complex organisms that need proper exercise, rest, sleep, love, etc., in order to function optimally. But just think about the food we often eat -often processed, convenient food that can be lacking nutrients. We fuel our cars with premium fuel but do not do the same for our bodies. Food is fuel for our body. Further we too often operate in our own red-zone, by not providing our bodies with the sleep, rest and physical activity to perform at our best.
Our stressed-out lives have an impact not only on us, but also on those who live, work and in general are around us. We are highly social creatures and individual/group dynamics have been studied extensively. Researchers are confirming the contagious effects of stress. Just like the old adage about one bad apple spoiling the whole bunch. The same thing holds for the contagious effects of stress rings true. One stressed out worried or anxious person can literally bring everyone around them into this state. Beyond our actual interactions and proximity to others, the contagion of emotions can be spread through our social and virtual networks as well.
So for all or our sakes, un-plug, recharge yourself and return to the cave.
Please be sure to leave some writings on the wall about what has helped you!
Sugarman PhD, Roy (2013-01-18). Saving Your Life One Day at a Time: Seven Ways to Survive the Modern World (Kindle Location 101). Heart Space Publications. Kindle Edition.
Huffington, Arianna (2014-03-25). Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder (p. 14). Crown Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
Kramer, Adam DI, Jamie Guillory, and Jeffery Hancock. “Experimental Evidence of Massive-scale Emotional Contagion through Social Networks.” Proceedings of the National Academies of Science of the United States of America 111 (2014): 8788-790. Experimental Evidence of Massive-scale Emotional Contagion through Social Networks. Web. 29 Nov. 2014. <http://www.pnas.org/content/111/24/8788.full>.