Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Stress can kill, gratitude can heal

I’m dying. Before leaping to conclusions, understand that so are you: you are dying. We all are. But some of us are dying faster.

A National Geographic documentary was shown at work today, sponsored by our film committee. The film covers the advancing understanding of how experiences affect us at our deepest levels – not only deep in our personal understanding but deeper still… to our cells, and genes, and telomeres! 

Full disclosure: We only saw the first ¾ of the film today, and tomorrow we see the part about how to combat stress. After all we ALL experience stress. It’s just that our society generates an atmosphere where stress thrives, and the “deep end of the gene pool” is full of those who will discover the antidotes to the negative effects of stress.

I was fortunate to be born into a family with fewer than normal health issues. But alcoholism casts a long shadow over my family – and it has had profound effects on me, and subsequently on our kids, even though the effects are muted through the generations.

I am truly grateful that both my parents had the strength to stop the worst of the behaviours of alcoholism: my brother and I were never exposed to drunken rages or abuse. But my parents had suffered, and that suffering, being children of alcoholics (CoAs), led to maladaptive responses. This is well documented in the literature on CoAs. I admire my parent's ability to start the change, and recognize my responsibility to continue that walk away from the harshness of alcoholic behaviour.

That all being said, as a CoA myself, my personal history is largely coloured by fear and stress. Anxiety attacks are common. Damn. Stress. Kills.

There are ways to deal with stress. Which brings me straight back to Gratitude. My next posts will be on three resources that have been enormously influential for me in the past year:
The book "One Thousand Gifts" Ann Voskamp challenges us to find and recognize moments of blessing.
Shawn Achor's TED Talk on happiness (his book is even better than the TED talk, but it gives you a great taste)
Brene Brown's amazing work on shame and resilience in the book "The Gifts of Imperfection". Brene’s book on wholehearted living is the only non-fiction book I have read more than twice. (I might be on my 4th or 5th read, all the more to understand and embed the principles into my life).

I add them here for your interest and elucidation. Click on one at least!

No comments:

Post a Comment