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Our stressed lives

By Spiros Tzelepis

Investigating the causes and the consequences of anguish

I decided to deal with this topic, because I experience it in my everyday life. I do everything under the pressure of time and when the day is over I have the feeling that I did not manage to implement all I had to do, and this feeling tortures me. I once read, but I cannot remember where: "stress appears in the titles of newspapers, laughs nervously in social meetings and galas, complains through advertisements, grizzles on the theatre stage and relaxes in the Stock Exchange". We live under stress, we work under stress, we entertain ourselves under stress.

Scientists define stress as a complex phenomenon which includes feelings of anguish, fear, tension and concern and causes changes in a person's behaviour and psychology.

The emotional reaction to pressing situations varies from person to person as its intensity depends on each one's personality. Nevertheless, we can find some objective factors that are responsible for this situation.

1. The practicality of modern civilization reduces the will for deeper thought, so people are always dissatisfied and experience a feeling of internal-psychological vacancy.

2. The environment people live in -family, school, social circles- presses them constantly and urges them to meet the promoted social models in order to be accepted.

Christos Calachanis, a sixteen-year-old student at a Senior High School of Athens, portrays the fact that young people today experience stressful situations in school --where they are expected to get through many extra courses in order to meet high standards-- and then --after graduation-- they face the nightmare of unemployment(2nd Senior High School of Imitos, Athens).

3. The uncertainty of our age, the frantic pace of our lives and the competitive spirit make people feel disoriented and lost.

4. The living conditions in big cities which are noisy and crowded favour stressful situations.

Costas Stagikas, a sixteen-year-old boy from Athens, portrays stress as a heavy load that modern people carry exhausted on their shoulders depicting this way the consequences anguish has upon them (2nd Senior High School of Imitos, Athens).

5. The high cost of life and the general financial problems cause to people anguish for survival.

6. People have turned to materialism; they chase profit by any means and try to find happiness in consumerism.

7. People live under the fear of vast disasters such as the disturbance of ecological balance, nuclear disasters, etc.

8. The moral decline and the loss of values lead people to depression and loneliness.

A mixture of all the above-mentioned reasons creates a stressful situation which people experience most times unconsciously.

Despite the opinion which gives stress a positive role in our lives, as it motivates people to act, most views underline the negative consequences of it:

1. Being under stress makes us unable to face our problems calmly.

2. Stress does not allow people to fulfill their potential, and thus it is a cause of reduced efficiency in their work.

3. It has an immediate connection with some health disorders such as heart attacks.

4. The psychological balance of stressed people is being threatened.

5. People feel fear and do not trust others.

6. In some extreme situations there are people who commit suicide under the pressure of anguish as they seek for relief.

I suppose that man has to develop some defensive mechanisms in order to face stressful situations.

Contact with nature calms down our souls; the right planning of our actions helps us to achieve our goals and reduces the feeling of pressure; we have to organize our free time in order to relax; we must try to develop healthy relationships so that we can trust our friends in order to share our thoughts and feelings with them; we can learn to control ourselves, to change our mentality and lead a life with quality which does not necessarily mean a life with many possessions around us.

Perhaps modern people have to reconsider their whole life style and try to find again the beauty of "regained time", as Proust wrote.

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Reconstruction: July-August-September 2002

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