Finding balance in a stressful world isn’t easy – but here are some ways to make it easier.
This week is International Stress Awareness Week. In recognition of the ever-increasing, and seemingly overwhelming, burdens that so many are shouldering as social, political, economic and environmental systems become ever more unstable, we offer our top take-homes to help you refocus and bring what the Swedish refer to as ‘lagom’ into your life.
Stress affects us all, but not always negatively. Love it, loathe it or become ambivalent about it — we can’t escape it. But it’s actually not stress itself that’s the problem, it’s only when we react negatively to it that physiological, mental and emotional problems develop.
We are actually exquisitely wired to deal with stress, which is why a little bit of it now and then is good for us. That’s what our fight and flight response is all about – it’s central to our survival. But it’s also often central to us performing at our optimum. It helps us tackle tasks, solve problems or handle threats. However, it’s when stressors keep building and continue over time that we move from a state of positive stress, to one of toxic stress. A chronic condition that’s one of the most harmful for us to be in for any length of time.
An absence or deficiency of stress isn’t necessarily a good thing for all aspects of our health. On the positive side, while people who experience very little stress in their lives appear less likely to develop chronic health conditions, they also score lower on cognition tests and are less likely to experience positive events or to give and receive emotional support.
We can all learn from the Swedish practice of ‘Lagom’, which provides a much-needed antidote to the tsunami of stress that we’re now facing. Lagom means ‘just the right amount’ and it embraces the art of balanced living. One that actively works to reduce or transform stress before it becomes a problem.