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Stress indicates a great need to learn to live a balanced, favourable life. Also, stress needs to be resolved before its accumulated effects get dangerous or harmful. Continued stress depletes your energy and slowly affects your immunity system and nervous system. Then the effects may go further. Minor stress may wear on us. Protracted stress of such as mild and medium intensity may wear on the organism and also cause (or co-cause) functional disorders. Intense stress may cause hypertension, stomach ulcers and diabetes and many other common ailments. Medical experts today seem to agree that over 50% (estimates may range between 50 and 80%) of the common bodily diseases are caused or co-caused by stress. (Smith et al, Hilgard's Introduction to Psychology, 2003:505). Not a few end their lives too soon because of stress that has built up.

Stress is a modern plague, but there are ways out. The Mayo Clinic asserts that if you have stress symptoms, taking steps to deal with with your stress and get aware of all the main causes in general can have numerous health benefits. Some steps are:

  • Regular physical activity
  • Relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, meditation, yoga
  • Keeping a sense of humor
  • Socialising with friends
  • Setting aside time for hobbies, such as reading books or listening to mellow music
  • Getting plenty of sleep and a healthy, balanced diet.

If what are possible stress symptoms continue, see your doctor. She may check for other potential causes of what you suffer from. Try to identify sources of your stress and learn coping tools. Statistics-based main causes of stress - they are called stressors - are shown in a table made by Drs. Thomas H. Holmes and Richard H. Rahe at Washington Medical School. The doctors devised a scheme of stressors and first tried it on 2500 sailors, and then others. It is much used, and may come as a surprise to some. [Top of the scale] [Smith et al, 2003:496-97]. For more, see Wikipedia (s.v. "Holmes and Rahe stress scale").

If you want to try the simple test yourself, it is online and free. Note that grievous money concerns and moral conflicts are absent from it - maybe they should have been included. [◦Life Events Stress Test]

See if there is something handy to gain through stress knowhow also. Here is about managing stress: [◦The Mayo Clinic: Stress management, stress symptoms]

Here is more comprehensive article about how stress affects us: [◦Stress, symptoms, causes, and effects]

Looking Deeper

In Dr. Gordon Allport's view, a truly religious attitude contains a sense of belonging in a world that makes deep sense. "The religious sentiment . . . has attachments to the most elusive facets of becoming. . . To feel oneself meaningfully linked to the whole of Being". (Allport 1955:93-94)

Cultural traditions uphold deeply ingrained norms of conduct. When someone senses some gap, or deviation between what he is used to (habituated to), regards as normal or common or appropriate - and his favoured group, cultural niche or network want things otherwise, his social adaptation mechanisms may drive or urge him to try and change the situation. Not all outcomes are successful. The difference between the ideal and what is really going on may be awfully hard on the urge to make a consistent world picture and on one's sense of belonging (Bai, 1981:103).

When trying to resolve religious assertions and their conflicts, we may try to (1) change our society (in-group), or, if that doesn't work, (2) we abide by the present status quo and feign against some of our deep-set urges. Blocking their outlets by some sorts of defence mechanisms could at length turn us into neurotics, and cynical as such too. If so, it would be based on giving in to peer pressures, group pressures - outside pressures -, and renouncing such as fit assertiveness and even bland idealism as well as many other valuable assets. "We are in danger wherever we go. (Saying)"

For our own good we had better not renounce heartfelt norms and ideals (idealism) for the sake of low conformist gains. For those who get involved in such as a tense and much controlling group, the felt stress between realising oneself on the one hand and conformity on the other hand mars and takes its toll on being wholehearted. Such heartfelt stress is not included in Holmes and Rahes list of main stressors, but may still be a horrible thing to experience. Conflict stress can become intense, dangerous and ruin many lives. (Cf. Bai, 1981:105)

More on Holmes and Rahes Stress Events

Death of spouse is stipulated to be the worst thing that could happen (stress-wise). It is given 100 points. Wedding is given 50 points as the middle of the scale, in comparison. It appears that about 10 of the 14 worst stressors (stress agents, stress causes) link up with having a family. There are different sorts of families. Not all are good. To the degree that a group is taken to be a family of a sort, and leaders are looked on as godly spouses, we can be in serious, stressing adaptation trouble as time goes by and we get aware behind the facades. It could happen.

What is more, the more faith and intense belongingness you invested in a group and its ideas, the more you risk getting hurt as the first attractions wear thin or wear off.

Illness Predictions Too

The stress scale of Holmes and Rahe is used to predict the odds of getting ill or even die - in this way:

Add the stressors you have experienced during the last 12 months:

  1. With a total score of less than 150, there is "merely" 37% chance of getting ill (from that past stress) in the next 2 years.
  2. With a total score between 150 and 300 points, the chance of getting ill is 51% in the coming two years.
  3. With a total score above 300 you may have 80% change of getting ill in the next two years.

All these figures should be considered to be rough estimates only, for real life is not as clear-cut as that. (Cf, Bai, 1981:106-7, and Atkinson, Richard et al., 1987:468.)

Clear-Cut: Coping Knowledge and Stress Knowledge Increase our Odds of Survival and Success

  1. Some individuals are naturally more able to withstand stress (are more stress-resistant) than average, and the points about are average stipulations only.
  2. Further, learning about stress and how to cope with it, can increase the odds of maintaining health and of survival too.

Even so, it is not knowing what to do to combat stress that matters the most, but actually doing things that help, whether we know it or not. For example, deep, daily meditation helps against many effects of stress. ◦Transcendental Meditation, TM, is the best researched method in this area. TM reduced the stress hormone cortisol by 30 percent in a study published in Hormones and Behavior (Vol. 10, Issue 1, February 1978, Pages 5460) There are other great benefits accumulating from doing TM as well. [◦More]

"The test of one's behavior pattern is their relationship to society, relationship to work and relationship to sex," says Alfred Adler. Similarly, to work very well and to have a good time are two good marks of being well adapted, whether in the mainstream society or not.

ARTICLE COLLECTION
Cults, cult matters, END MATTER

Cults, cult matters, LITERATURE  

Allport, Gordon: Becoming: Basic Considerations for a Psychology of Personality. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1955.

Atkinson, Richard and others: Introduction to Psychology. 9th ed. San Diego, CA: Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, 1987.

Bai, Kurt: Livet og Pengene (Life and Money). Vol. 5. Oslo: Økonomiforlaget, 1981.

Smith, Carolyn D., ed, et al. Hilgard's Introduction to Psychology. 14th ed. Belmont: Thomson Wadsworth, 2003.

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