Page 14 - EMCAPP-Journal No. 14
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call these events and experiences stressors. Cul-  pleasant, elicit anxiety, or lead to other negative
             tural and technological changes in recent years   reactions.
             have resulted in an expansion of stressors ex-
             perienced  by  many  people  around  the  globe.   In her book, Invitation to Retreat, conference
             Rapid changes in modern life have accelerated     leader and spiritual director, Ruth Haley Barton
             the need for more flexibility, a task that is diffi-  (2018)  discussed  the  exhaustion  that  is  often
             cult for many (Hutmacher, 2019). Though tech-     felt by people who thrive on the next message
             nology may reduce stress in some ways, it can     and post that is made, the newest news alert,
             increase stress in other ways. Stone (2017) sum-  or other messages that bombard modern smart
             marized five modern-day stressors that are un-    phones. This overstimulation and information
             like stressors in previous generations. He sugge-  overload can easily distract people from the im-
             sted that in contemporary culture, 1) we inter-   portant things in life, can reduce attention whe-
             act with a greater diversity of people, 2) because   re it is needed most and, in my observation, can
             of television and other modern modes of me-       marginalize the important people in a person’s
             dia, we compare ourselves to higher standards,    life. Barton (2018) wrote that one of the great
             3) we specialize more which means that we have    dangers to the church today is not hedonism,
             to work harder and harder to achieve mastery      but  rather  the  distraction  that  is  brought  on
             in  a  subject,  4)  the  economy  changes  quickly   by constantly being “plugged into” the world.
             and so do jobs. This results in an angst with the   Whether the constant checking of one’s phone
             concept of obsolescence, and last, 5) innovation   for messages and updates is the problem or the
             happens faster. Innovations are often highly be-  symptom may be debated. What I find is that in
             neficial, but the cost of innovation is often felt in   either case, it is problematic for healthy func-
             the markets, economy, jobs, and predictability    tioning.
             in life. These stressors often lead to the percepti-
             on that life is out of control. Stressors like these   The impact on the body may go unnoticed for
             are what often lead people to feel agitated and   years, but eventually the toll on the body will
             experience some form of nervous tension. The      exert itself. There will be the exhaustion that Se-
             problem is that these ongoing stressors impact    lye discussed. The body is prevented from retur-
             the physiology in a subtle but ongoing way. For   ning to a normal state of homeostasis and will
             some persons, stress may go unnoticed. Others     eventually  experience  cellular  damage.  Selye
             may seek it out. In my own clinical experience, I   (1976) found that stress tends to impact three
             have worked with individuals who might be de-     major types of tissue or organs in the body. The-
             scribed as adrenaline junkies. They are not awa-  se include the adrenal glands which are part of
             re of their stress, but they are aware when life is   the endocrine system; the thymus, spleen, and
             quiet, and they are not being “stressed” with a   lymph glands in the immune system; and the
             constant and demanding schedule. This person      intestinal linings of the digestive system.
             seems to thrive on the “rush” of the stress hor-  Ongoing stress on these physical systems and
             mones that charge their activity level.           organs has a negative impact on physical health.
                                                               The psychological impact of stress on persons
             Another  example  of  the  adrenaline  junky  is   in terms of mental illness and damaged relati-
             the  person  who  lives  in  a  pattern  of  ongoing   onships is also clear. It is common today to ac-
             busyness. The lack of either intentional or unin-  cept that stress plays a part in the development
             tentional boundary setting, and ongoing com-      of psychological disorders. The diathesis-stress
             mitments can lead to burn-out and exhaustion.     model suggests that many psychological disor-
             The person thrives on their busyness and does     ders are the result of biological or psychological
             not risk life without a packed shedule. It may    predispositions (the diathesis) plus the addition
             be the need to be needed and sometimes it is      of stressors in a person’s life. Learning how to
             the exhilaration from the rush of stress chemi-   manage stress is an important skill to learn as
             cals. Other times busyness can be intentional in   it aids in the prevention of illness and improves
             order to avoid aspects of life that may be un-    heath.

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