Stressed to Death

Stressed to Death

According the Centers for Disease Control, for the 3rd year in a row – life expectancy has dropped for the third year in a row. For the first time since World War I and the flu pandemic of 1918 – our life expectancy has not increased.

In parallel for the 3rd year in a row the US has dropped its ranking in the World Happiness Report, a report produced a U.N. initiative. We are currently ranked 19th out of our 156 surveyed countries. Although we are the richest and most developed country in the world we didn’t even make the top 10 – and each year we lose a spot.

So what gives?

According to a recent HBO documentary entitled One Nation Under Stress – the root cause of these issues is stress. “Driven primarily by an epidemic of self-inflicted deaths of despair — from drug overdose, chronic liver disease and suicide – this rise in the U.S. mortality rate can be seen as a symptom of the toxic, pervasive stress in America today.

We are literally worrying ourselves to death and are ineffective in combating chronic self induced stress.

We have evolved to sit and stare into screens locking us into a virtual non-physical world. We measure happiness in terms of followers, likes, and friend requests, yet fail to have authentic relationships and face to face conversations.

We value one click shopping and convenience and have lost touch with true physicality and social connection.

When is the last time you went to bed truly happy and a full night of uninterrupted sleep? Felt satisfied with a sense of hard’s day effort, proud of the work you produced and the love you gave?

Or is it that we are truly under attack by chronic stress? Our screens constantly and consistently tell us how much we hate one another.

We bury ourselves in our phones for relief from all the anxiety making us feel more isolated. The isolation leads to depression and the Doctor is always ready and waiting to sign a prescription for medication.

This and several other factors has led to the first time in 100 years a decreasing life expectancy and the fact that we are as unhappy as we’ve ever been.

So what can we do to combat this?

According to the documentary “chronic stress can reduce the size of key parts of the brain — particularly areas involved with empathy and impulse control — and cause synapses to atrophy. A decades-long study of Italian-Americans in Roseto, Pennsylvania found that their tight-knit community had the “magic ingredient” that helps mitigate stress:

strong social support and social cohesion.

What else can work? Sweating and smiling with other sweaty and smiling people.

Working out in a group environment coupled with healthy eating, good sleep, and meditation practices (quiet prayer, yoga, mindfulness) can help manage stress and repair brain nerves, as can fostering strong social networks and relationships.

We’ve all got problems and issues we are fighting. Maybe we should it try sweating it out and lending a smile and/or hand to our real neighbors and not so much time with our virtual friends.

If you’re interesting in learning how we can help you decrease your stress and increase your smiling – drop us a message to get started. We’d love to help.

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