What Is Contemporary Stress?
A response to stress expresses itself as resistance, tension, strain, or frustration that throws off our equilibrium, keeping us out of sync. Two people in identical circumstances may respond in very different ways (e.g., one gets stressed, the other inspired) depending upon how they perceive the situation.
What contributes to Contemporary Stress?
We have always had earthquakes, hurricanes, and floods, but the increasing volume and severity of these events has become alarming. Weather devastation generates economic stress in skyrocketing prices for gasoline, heating fuel, and food. Epidemics of influenza and other infectious diseases aren’t new, but drug-resistant strains of virulent organisms are new and threatening. The history of humankind is full of examples of conflicts, wars, and acts of terrorism. However, never before has there been such a great threat of death and potential mass destruction due to terrorist acts as there is now.
The public is understandably stressedby constant reminders from the media that any of these contemporary stressors could easily affect you or a loved one at any time. It is therefore not surprising that 8 or 9 out of every 10 visits to primary care physicians are for stress-related complaints. The World Health Organization estimated that by 2020, clinical depression will outrank cancer and follow only heart disease as the second leading cause of disability in the world. Is it because contemporary stress is somehow different and more dangerous? What people want to know is what they can do about any of this. How can they learn to avoid and cope with this avalanche of stress that seems to surround today’s world?
Stress is often misunderstood.Many people look at outside events as the source of stress, but, in fact, the experience of stress is actually caused by our emotional reactions to events. We can break the vicious stress cycle by taking a proactive role in managing our reactions. Actively self-generating positive emotions when you start to react can favorably affect your physiological and psychological processes. Positive emotions help shift stress-producing perceptions, counterbalance the effects of stress reactions, and promote regeneration at both the psychological and physiological levels (see Science of the Heart). As you gain increased management of emotions, the experience of stress then truly becomes more a choice than an automatic reaction. In learning to address and transform stress from within, you become an active contributor to your own health, balance, and fulfillment.
Copyright © HeartMath. Since 1991 HeartMath has been dedicated to decoding the underlying mechanics of stress. HeartMath is internationally recognized for their solutions to transform the stress of change and uncertainty, and bring coherence and renewed energy into people’s lives. Research and clinical studies conducted by HeartMath have examined emotional physiology, heart-brain interactions, and the physiology of learning and performance. Through their research they have demonstrated the critical link between emotions, heart function, and cognitive performance. HeartMath’s work has been published in numerous peer-reviewed journals such as American Journal of Cardiology, Stress Medicine, and Preventive Cardiology, as well as business journals such as Harvard Business Review and Leadership Excellence. HeartMath’s organizational clients include NASA, BP, Duke University Health System, Stanford Business School, Redken, Kaiser Permanente, Boeing, and Cisco Systems, as well as dozens of school systems and thousands of health professionals around the world. To learn more about HeartMath, go to www.heartmath.com.