We're living in very nerve-racking and difficult times and things don't seem to be getting any more easygoing. Occasionally life can seem terribly painful and unjust, yet for some reason we manage to struggle on, day in day out, hoping and praying that things will soon get better with our lives and our recovery.
But daily the world is becoming a less balanced and more uncertain place to live in, not to mention stressful. Nothing appears safe anymore. Millions of individuals are in record levels of debt. Many are losing their occupations, their homes, their health and sometimes even their sanity. Worry, depression and anxiety seem to have become a way of life for way too many people and can really, seriously affect recovery.
We seem to have entered the Age of Anxiety. As a matter of fact, in 2002, the cover of Time magazine announced this loud and clear on one of their covers as the featured story in that issue. The ceaseless stress and uncertainties of living in the 21st century have surely taken their toll, and as a result many of us seem to live a life of constant fear and worry.
When the terrorist attacks happened on September 11, this ceaseless stress and worry seemed to just be magnified. In fact, a lot of individuals even now years later report they're still frightened that something of that magnitude could happen again - maybe closer to them.
Turn on the news or open up a paper and we're pelted with disturbing images and stories. We begin to question if we're safe anywhere. In this, the data age, never before have we had so much access to so much information.
The economic system is another stressor. Our country is in debt and so are many Americans. Surging gas prices, exorbitant housing costs, even the cost of food has sent many Americans to work in jobs that are disappointing and boring. They work these occupations because they need a paycheck. Nowadays, it’s more crucial to bring home the bacon instead of work in a dream career.
Having more women in the workplace adds to the tension. So many women sense the need to be everything to everybody and that includes a wage earner, house keeper, mommy, wife, daughter, and sibling. The only trouble with that is Many women just don’t make any time for themselves therefore contributing to their stress levels being at an all-time high.
Even youngsters can feel the pressure of stress and anxiety. Adolescents who want to go to college find themselves pushing themselves during their studies to try and receive scholarships so they can go to schools that have ever increasing tuition prices.
They find themselves having to hold down part-time jobs on top of all that to bring in money for extras that their parents can no longer give. Add peer pressure into the blend and you have a authentic pressure cooker!
Cell phones, cyberspace, palm pilots, blackberries, i-pods - we're always on the go and forever reachable. We don’t make time to decompress and enjoy life any longer. Why not? We certainly should, especially for recovery!
We feel pressure to do these things as we think we HAVE to, not because we would like to. All too often, it’s hard for individuals to just say “No”. Not saying that one little word accumulates un-needed expectations and responsibilities that make us feel nervous.
All of us will have situations that may cause us to become stressed or feel anxious. The reasons are too many to mention but can include, buying a property, having guests sleep over (in-laws!), being bullied, exams, looking after youngsters, managing finances, relationship issues, traveling and of course trying to stay clean and sober.
Stress is a ‘normal’ affair of everyday life. Only when it appears to absorb our lives does it then become a problem.
Everybody will have different reasons why a situation induces pressure. As a rule it’s commonly when we don’t feel in control of a situation, then we feel its grip tightening up around us causing us to feel worried or ‘strained’.
If stress is induced by us not feeling in control of a situation, the answer is to try and reverse this, and regain that control. The good news is: you are able to!
You have everything inside you that you need to defeat your stress and the accompanying anxiety. The problem is, often we don’t recognize that we're in control because we feel so out of control at times. But the tools are there, you just have to use them.
In later articles we will cover some of these tools.
Until then, take a deep breath and try to gain your composure to not sabotage your recovery.