I recently read that it’s been 222 years since William Blake penned his famous poem “London” and it got me to thinking about stress management and how much things have really changed since then.
Let me start with Blake’s words to explain why:
I wander thro’ each charter’d street,
Near where the charter’d Thames does flow.
And mark in every face I meet
Marks of weakness, marks of woe.
In every cry of every Man,
In every Infants cry of fear,
In every voice: in every ban,
The mind-forg’d manacles I hear
How much more sophisticated are we now from Blake’s London of 1794?
Have we replaced the squalid conditions of work with a slow insidious disease that is crippling our leaders, and workforce?
Have we replaced the ‘dirty, obvious’ diseases of 222 years ago with a quiet, clean inescapable sickness?
Replaced it with anxiety, stress, depression, burnout, post traumatic stress, ulcers, high blood pressure, diabetes eating us all up from the inside, so no one can see, no one can help, and ridiculed if it were declared.
Sometimes the cleverest of people crumble under the torment of their ‘mind forged manacles’ and it’s not their fault.
Perhaps the new city workers are being forced to accept intolerable conditions and their ability to think of ways out are stolen from them.
How do we gently wake up to intolerable stress; intolerable hours; intolerable debt; intolerable relationships; intolerable family lives without the blow that this might create?
We are all at the mercy of the established culture for many years before we realise it has become imprinted upon us.
The thing is, however hard it is to re-establish new beliefs and new behaviours in work and in life as a whole, it’s easier than breaking down over the boardroom table. So the ‘how’ is to create companionable relationships within yourself and your close relationships.
Gently challenge what is working for you and what is not. Consider everything that you desire your life to be made up of, and be caring and gentle with how you gently wake to yourself.
We have the opportunity to embrace a humane working environment where being a whole person is welcomed, even celebrated.
Stress management is an oxymoron
Stress management is an oxymoron, really it should be stress freedom and do our best to work without stress rather than managing it as though it is a force in itself.
If we as humans can create stress, then we can un-create it.
Don’t get me wrong it is perfectly acceptable for a human to extend themselves to their limit every now and again, sometimes even to what feels like breaking point. This however must be short lived, and is not a state within which to reside.
Breakdown and burnout is not an individual’s inability to manage stress, it is a cultures inability to manage the meaning and causes of stress.
Lets start thinking about ourselves as being able to choose to live without stress, live without the kind of stress that is slowly killing us.
Let’s start embracing being fully human, not being ‘super human’; super human breaks us eventually. Learn to know yourself, your limits, your desires, your pains, your pleasures.
It’s so much easier to adapt your life to less stress if you’ve adapted to who you are as a human being first.
If there were no limitations to humans then stress; trauma; and post traumatic stress would not exist. These frequently experienced conditions only exist because every human being that lives, and has ever lived, has a limit.
Lets de-mystify stress management and get choices and stress freedom wherever possible!
All lack of choice is internalised as entrapment; entrapment is a crucial feature of any chronic state of stress. Every reader will know someone, if not themselves, who they feel is bowing under stress and feeling trapped.
Choosing self care, and establishing an internal environment of kindness, will give some control and responsibility for health, mental health, inner and external wealth.
This gives you a much better chance of being able to choose.
Remember all choice alleviates stress, even if the choice is simply how you might treat yourself with companionship and not cruelty.
How you might imagine freedom from stress as an alternative to stress management.
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