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Saturday, 12 July 2014

Invisible Flashing Lights and Silent Sirens – A Matter of Our Health Individually and Collectively

Only the people who have enough, are satisfied; and only those who are satisfied, have the peacefulness that everyone wants.

I have always wondered if I am a participant as well as a victim of the destructive urgency that plagues the society in which we live. After some reading and reflection on this matter, I feel I should share some thoughts. In fact, I am almost certain that you have given some thought to the reality and causes of stress at some point in your life if not recently. 

Many of us are in a perpetual #AmStressed state. Under the tyranny of a way of life we call “modern”, we are enslaved and tormented. We are tormented by lack of time and by the pursuit of paying the bills, wealth, comfort and/or fame. We all rush around under stress brought on by unending and assorted cravings and insatiable demands.

Propelled by recent events and inspired by what I have heard and read, I have intensified my evaluation and small resolves about what I should do to lessen stress in my life and avoid its undesirable health effects. We need to get rid of all invisible flashing lights and silent sirens that continue to disturb and disrupt all of us. Irrespective of our individual awareness and experiences, we (yes, you included) suffer the consequences of a dangerously stressed world.

Universal Necrophobia:
We frequently create and are forced to respond to many artificial emergencies called "deadlines". Instead of controlling these deadlines, we appear to be perpetually afraid of them (the dead lines). This somewhat universal necrophobia causes the production of less than excellent results because of the rush that it generates and we are stressed even more. In spite of the warnings that we have heard so often, we continue to allow artificial deadlines and the accompanying stress to bring us ever closer to taking the place of the lines. 

In the past when I heard the phrase “chill out!”, I gave it no more than a passing attention. It appears to be gaining increasing significance as I hear or read stories about what so many people are going through because of stress and the ever-increasing urgency of life. A common rationalization for the stressful rush goes like this: “We have to rush around under stress now that we are young enough to handle it so we can retire early and still have enough youthfulness to sit back and enjoy life”. 

The confusion often has to do with the differentiation between working hard and being stressed out. These do not have to go together. While everyone may readily agree with this reasoning, structuring our lives accordingly is not so easy. Apart from the tyranny of time, many other causes of stress are known such as lifestyle, type of vocation, recreational habits, lack of exercise, state of health, eating habits, choices of food, et cetera. The causes of stress are countless it seems.

Until recently, I did not know that I was as stressed as I have been. I may have learned this late in life but I believe that changing directions from a destructive path to a healthier one is never too late. I have come to learn that we are our worse enemies in our efforts to live without stress. Even individuals who wish for and work towards living a more peaceful life are readily drawn into stressful situations and circumstances by unforeseen catastrophic events or the actions, expectations, interests and demands of other people.

Contentment is not necessarily laziness:
I once heard this insightful story and you may read it as presented in Loakanian's Journal: “The Rich Man and The Resting Fisherman” -

We live in a broken world and I have come to the conclusion that it is a personal resolve for each of us to live a less stressful life. Now you can imagine what is likely to happen if enough of us become truly determined and resolved to live simply and peacefully. What would this involve? I can think of a few things:
  • A careful lifestyle that helps us to maintain our spiritual, physical, social and emotional well-being
  • A passion for doing what is right and helpful to society
  • Recognition of non-emergency and artificial deadlines
  • Fewer time-constrained and stress-invoking demands imposed on other people
  • Willingness to forgive people who have not met our expectations and/or demands as promptly and exactly as we feel these should be met
  • Empathy towards others with a realization that they may be experiencing adverse situations or difficulties of which we are not aware
  • Willingness to extend a helping hand where needed and we have the capability and opportunity to help
  • Contentment with fewer extra pleasures and wants beyond having our basic life needs met
I also stumbled upon this article by William Leith in the Observer, Sunday 12 July 2009 - - a must read for every adult. I heard also that even children are subject to destructive stress which is a shame.

Mr. Leith points to relentless consumption, spiraling debt, information overload and asks if “modern life is making

you ill”. As presented in the article, William Leith discovers the hidden problems with living in a 24-hour world. He even cites the example of how the food industry, within which I am engaged as a food safety specialist, causes exhaustion through product offerings. The example is indicting in some way but I refuse to be stressed by the indictment. I see it only as inspiring me even more to continue doing what I am resolved to do which is to actively participate in spreading the GCSE-Food and Health Protection message.

What about you? Are you a participant and/or a victim of stressful times and what are you doing about it? Are you the fisherman or the rich man of the Loakanian's Journal story? Are you Kate or Greg in William Leith’s article?

Posted By Felix Amiri
Felix Amiri is the current Food Sector Chair of GCSE-Food & Health Protection

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