Stress and anxiety symptoms seem almost to be reaching epidemic proportions. People are complaining of exhaustion, overwhelm, sleep problems and a host of physical and psychological symptoms that indicate they just can't cope. How do we deal with the symptoms of anxiety in and stress in a world where coping is considered desirable attributes. More importantly, how can we identify and address the causes of stress. Even when we make changes to our own lives, it seems that our fast-paced environment makes stress and anxiety almost contagious. The demands of others, the endless stream of emails and messages and a nagging question of whether we are really living our lives as we wish – all these contribute to a sense of overwhelm, stress and anxiety. We wonder when the tipping point will come and how we can change our lives without giving up much of what we have worked so hard to achieve.
As a psychologist, I observe many differences in how people cope with the demands of modern living. I have wondered for some some time what the differences between those who cope and those who don't. Better time management, social support, positive thinking, clear goals, personality attributes do make differences but they are not consistent. What is consistent is something about the alignment of one's values with how they are living their lives. In short, when we live out of integrity with what is important to us, we become stressed. When we are in alignment, we are somehow able to navigate external demands and ensure we are living 'on purpose'. The outcome is less stress. When we are out of alignment, external influences impact greatly, making stress and anxiety almost contagious. No amount of time management will remove our stress or provide stress relief – we have to deal with the cause and ensure we are taking full responsibility for our part in creating our lives.