The metaphysics of stress
May 2nd 2008, 13:24
Somebody dies suddenly from a heart attack. "Ah, well," says a close friend, "I'm not surprised, really. He was always stressed." Stress, it seems, is the great killer of our times, and medical researchers are confirming our worst fears with studies that establish a link between stress and heart disease, hypothyroidism, breast and prostate cancers, and others besides.
And when we think about stress, we conjure up images from our day of rushing for the train, getting shouted at by the boss, missing the train home, eating a fast-food meal on our laps, and collapsing into bed for a restless sleep.
But stress is our reaction to events like these, it's the effect and not the cause. Some people don't get stressed by any of life's little inconveniences, others get totally stressed because they put a little too much feed in the goldfish bowl. This is supported by one study that concluded that stress is the result of a multitude of minor daily events that are each irritating little stressors.
While that's true, I also believe that stress is something metaphysical. It's all about your view of the world. Is it a hostile, or friendly, place? Are people in the main helpful, or are they trying to cheat you at every turn? I've researched the subject for the latest issue of 'What Doctors Don't Tell You', and I've concluded that - fundamentally - our levels of stress equate to our level of 'feeling at home' in the world. Stress is a disease of our sense of isolation and distance, not the result of the daily hurly-burly.
o The full study on stress and isolation is contained in the May 2008 issue of 'What Doctors Don't Tell You'. To start your subscription, and so receive the report, pleaseclick here.