In each of the e-mail newsletters that we send out from Mountain Waves Healing Arts, I always include a poll to get a sense of what is on people’s minds. This month, I asked the question about whether the current political climate is increasing people’s level of stress.
While the results aren’t in yet, think about all of the rhetoric being bantered about from both ends of the political spectrum with regards to health care, the economy, taxes, state budgets, school funding cuts, immigration, the wars in Iraq and the one in Afghanistan that seems to be spilling over into Pakistan, terrorism, the list goes on and on. In fact in the ever-present 24/7 news cast (or news show as it’s now called), there’s always something stressful to report on.
It’s easy to see how people can feel unsafe and threatened in this world, regardless of whether they actually know anyone who might be involved in the latest disaster. Any more, if it’s not a tsunami, it’s an earthquake. If it’s not a wildfire, it’s an avalanche that’s trapped a party of mountain climbers on a mountain that you’ve never heard of – and likely never hear about again. That’s because most news is trivial. The only really relevant part of the news report is the weather, which can help you decide how to dress for the day. Other than that, it’s pretty much over-hyped trivia.
Now the internet and the proliferation of social networking has added to the frenzy as bits of semi-facts circulate in a whirlwind. How many times have you re-received that e-mail warning you of the latest scam that you first found out was a hoax three years ago? This is all on top of simply trying to hold down your job, put food on the table and keep the check book balanced. Are we stressed? You bet we are, but the problem is that we’ve become so used to it that we barely recognize it. We just think that this state of muscle tension and ache in our bodies is the normal level of relaxed.
Well, I’ve got news for you. Relaxed for many people today is being wound up tighter than the rubber band on a toy airplane propeller. I can’t tell you how many times on the massage table that I’ve lifted a client’s arm and asked them to relax. When they thought they had relaxed their arm, I let go only to have their arm stick straight up in the air without any support by me! This is what it means to be relaxed?
My suggestion to get back in balance is to begin to eliminate all of the non-essential stimulus that is contributing to your state of stress.
First, go on a “news fast”. This means, resist the temptation to watch the TV news, radio, newspaper or internet. Nothing in the “news” is so important to you personally. If it was, you would have known about it before the news reporter! If not, you’ll find out about it in due time. Do this for a week (just as if you are on vacation). After that week, you’ll find yourself being a little more discerning about what news information you are willing to let into your consciousness. That’s important. Preserve that awareness, because you are less likely to feel caught up in that whirlwind if you are consciously choosing the news you let in.
Second, focus on what you can control. You probably can’t control national health care reform and it’s impacts on individuals you’ve never met, but you can focus on your personal health. So spend that time exercising or doing something that improves your health, so what ever happens with national health care no longer becomes a concern because you are a healthy person. This is empowering and will help you feel in control of your life rather than at the mercy of the talking heads on the tube.
Finally, make time for something fun in your life, something that makes you laugh. Socialize with people who are fun to be with and who can bring a smile to your face. Even more simply, bring home a comedy movie rather than the action thriller or suspense drama – after all, isn’t that what the news cast is for?
“Rule number one is: don’t sweat the small stuff. Rule number two is: it’s all small stuff.” – Robert Eliot
– Paul Kulpinski, LMT