Graduate From Stress

04/06/2013 17:05
Three years ago it was a very stressful time since my wife and I both lost our jobs. Actually we set ourselves up for this by working at the same company in the first place (audible Homer Simpson-like "Doh!" with face palm). So after nearly 20 years as a research medicinal chemist I decided to make a drastic change by going back to school to become a health and physical education teacher. Meanwhile my wife took a "more sensible" approach through an accelerated teaching program in chemistry.
 
She worked hard and furious. When asked how it was going in the classroom she described it as a trial by fire and water (leave it to a lifelong chemist to use alchemy terms!). The quickened unnatural pace was a source of yet more stress for us. I cannot image what mayhem might have ensued if both of us opted for accelerated teaching programs. This is not to say my slower approach was stress free. It wasn't.
 
First of all only celebrities like Rodney Dangerfield portraying the nouveau riche could make going back to school seem glamorous. Unlike Mr. Dangerfield's character that resided in a dorm room I spent less time physically at college by commuting from home. Nevertheless just by sitting in classes with students 20 years younger violated social mores. Simply knowing that I was causing stress to young adults just by being there was in itself a source of stress. Fortunately it was not the level of stress one would register on the Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale.
 
What does register on the Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale are Life Change Units (LCUs). Graduation from school or college can be a stressor for most people (26 LCUs). The more LCUs a person racks up on the Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale the more likely the person will become ill. The duration of the stress is also important because only life events within the previous two years are usually considered.
 
Note there are at least two definitions of graduate: One is to receive an academic degree upon completion of one's studies. Another is to make fine adjustments or divide into marked intervals for optimal measuring. I believe to graduate from stress one needs a finely graduated approach. What does that mean?
 
How one reacts to a stressor can contribute stress and make it more difficult to recover particularly if the reaction is likely to score some more of those LCUs within two years. This is the vicious cycle in which stress can easily escalate as one hastily makes poor decisions (e.g. minor law violations, poor eating and sleeping habits), while one is "stressed out." It is better to plan ahead... think about the tortoise and the hare.
 
The best plan may not seem directly related but it is and thankfully it is also one reason I decided to switch to health and physical education. Good recommendations for stress management typically include adequate rest, effective time management, and healthy diet and exercise. The exercise does not have to be vigorous like the hare or light like the tortoise, but preferably 30-40 minute bouts of moderate aerobic exercise 5 times a week.
 
In current parlance regarding commencement one might ask "Did you walk?"
 
This article refers in part to what Schuyler Antane has learned in that endurance event known as life. This includes Information related to physical, social, emotional, and spiritual health. More importantly it may be used for self-help or to assist others in their life journey. Do try to include some of the tips given here in your day too.
 
What do you think?
 
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