“Slow down, you might crash”. Has anyone ever told you that in the last six months? Maybe you should start applying that advice by not rushing to the end of this article, or you might crash- just kidding.
Whew, the world is too stressed out for her own good! Can you imagine a case where someone is her own major stressor? That is exactly what the world is doing to herself. The manner and speed at which people move around and go about their business is that kind that can make me nauseous in a merry-go-round, or the kind that can make me throw up in a galloping bus heading north from Nsukka. Concerned folks are left with very few alternatives like taking matters into their own hands, and forcefully applying unsolicited brakes for the ‘rat race’ people. Smart professionals even make a living from the chaos- after all good business is seeing a problem that nobody probably saw and solving it, isn’t it?
Recently, I saw an ad that said something that sounded like “ultimate De-stress Experience, our aim is to provide a haven of tranquility, away from all your day-to-day worries, we help you detoxify”- and all that kind of candy sweet promises. Don’t ask me where I found that ad, because I know too well that there is definitely a place with such offerings. The ad got me thinking anyways. So I thought, why do people really get stressed out, how, and to what end? Can a therapist really help me de-stress and detoxify, to what end, and what is the sell-by-date of the ‘de-stressed’ feeling. If I do not have the luxury of a ‘de-stress experience’ for so long- maybe two straight years, what would become of me, better still, how long is the sell-by-date of mental sanity. Therefore, is it really possible to be permanently de-stressed and detoxified, or should I pretend that the thought of it tastes better than a chocolate-box story. Well, I decided to do a fair amount of study that was more than good enough to give me more than a fair amount of excellent answers.
Professionals define stress as events or situations that makes us feel tension, pressure or negative emotions such as anxiety and anger. On the other hand, others view stress as the response to these situations or events, these responses are usually physiological changes and they may include; increased heart rate and muscle tension as well as emotional and behavioral changes. However, most psychologists regard stress as a process involving a person’s interpretation and response to a threatening event (Auerbach, Stephen, and Gramling, Sandra E, “stress (psychology),” Microsoft ® Encarta 2009). So I decided to interpret this whole stress perspectives thus:
Stress may be:
A nut to crack;
How I choose to crack the nut;
Or the decision making process of how I choose to crack the nut.
Therefore if you ask me to shed more light, I would say that being busy, or having an important deadline to meet, or problematic work or social relationships, such as a poor evaluation by a supervisor( just like I experienced in my project while completing a major requirement for a bachelor’s degree in microbiology last month) or an argument with a friend( the kind I sometimes have with one of my favorite roommates who I like and dislike at the same time for having opinions too strong for her own good) , or even failure( like failing a third year organic chemistry course in the only Nigeria’s den), personal humiliation( the kind I call embaharassment, self-imposed embarrassment), physical threats( like when my supervisor said he would slap me- even though he is still apologizing today) etc. are all events (stressors) on their own, but people’s responses to them can be a stressor too, and also interpretation/ processing of these stressors in one’s mind may be called a stressor too.
I just hope you are not expecting me to give you a seminar on stress- I am really not too interested in doing that, you know I am not much of an authority in the field. Telling me to that is simply asking me to write a review on scholarly works, and I am so going to call that an ‘event’ myself besides writing reviews on microbiology, kept me away from you all this while and I am so sorry.
Nevertheless, I would love to say something on one of the effects of stress that I find rather interesting- mental illness! I discovered or do I say that I rediscovered that the people who we consider irritable, socially withdrawn, and emotionally unstable are simply people who receive a high dose of exposure to stress- and people who cope poorly with the stress. Prolonged and high stress dose exposure may lead people to anxiety, depression, or other severe emotional problems. Anxiety disorder caused by stress may include generalized anxiety disorder, phobias, panic disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. And guess what, people who survive catastrophes sometimes develop an anxiety disorder called post-traumatic stress disorder. They re-experience the traumatic event again and again in dreams and in disturbing memories or flashbacks during the day. They often seem emotionally numb and may be easily startled or angered. I also find it shockingly interesting that professionals agree that coping with stress required individuals to use thoughts and actions to deal with stressful situations and lower one’s stress levels. Also, many people have a characteristic way of coping with stress based on their personality, and that people who cope well with stress tend to believe they can personally influence what happens to them, they usually make more positive statements about themselves, resist frustration, remain optimistic, and persevere even under extremely adverse circumstance, most importantly, they choose the appropriate strategies to cope with the stressors they confront. It was at this point of studying that I was like eureka, I found it!
If a professional’s textbook and his experiences teaches him that coping with stress is basically a question of response due to a person’s heart (mind) disposition, and I chose to agree because it sounded logical- even without studying his textbooks or having his experience. In the same way, any and every professional would be polite by me, if he, without studying my textbook and having my experience chooses to agree with me that mutants (Theo-Sapiens) have the only sure and strong antidote to stress due to the permanent state of their hearts, coded for by the Spirit of God in their hearts (spirits). This stress antidote is programmed in them and is automatically activated in them when confronted by the ugly and eerie face of stress because of the reviving power of their right believing. They believe ‘the too good to be true news’- the Gospel! When confronted with bad and ugly events or stress (which I have chosen to all call the bad news) they automatically switch on to the beauty of the Gospel- The Good News’ locked away within them, and get refreshed and renewed. “They that trust in the Lord shall renew their strength” my textbook says. We don’t necessarily de-stress or detoxify because the stress cannot mix or mingle with them.
Therefore, I realized, reaffirmed and concluded that what doctor or a psycho therapist might choose to call a healthy state of mind was a mind state that slightly or grossly mimics ‘ the Rest of God’ because I know that such state of mind is a permanent and vital reality of mutants. God’s rest is a place but more to that, it is a place that only our hearts (spirits) can be in. Our spirits house our souls which in turn house our mind. When my spirit is at ‘The Rest of God’- The secret place, the Kingdom of God, only then can my mind be tamed to rest and be de-stressed, detoxified and permanently tranquilized. I know too well that no amount of yoga can take anyone there. The best that yoga might do is to show you a dream scene of ‘Rest’s door’ swinging to and fro like the graceful dance of a beautifully formed damsel in any deliciously written chocolate box love story you might find in my library.
So we rest because we believe, and because we believe, we continue to trust in Him with His own faith, the faith that came with the Gospel we heard. And because we continue to trust in Him, He gives us wings like that of an eagle, so that we can glide and accelerate with little or no efforts in the turbulence of the air currents that never appears to cease. Unlike other birds in flight, we never struggle- we soar! We see the turbulence, but like the eagle on the sky don’t take notice because we have a similar soaring swagger. When the ‘Frozen’ ice queen sings “the cold don’t bother me anyways” we get it because we share similar experience. In fact we save our energy for any ‘swift and swoop’ attack of the bald eagle. We know that they that put their trust in the Lord are like mount Zion which cannot be moved but abides forever. We also live on the truth that them that wait, that hope on the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall mount on eagle’s wings and they will soar and not grow faint.
Jesus Christ is the Rest of God, the very rest from every work- from every doing, it is done. It is finished on the tree, and He is the risen king. He is the risen, the reason why we rest, why we have believed. He is the risen, the reason why we are permanently in the de-stressed, detoxified, tranquil and serene mode.