How to survive from the stresses of modern life knowing stress is non-negotiable

Stress is basically coping with change. Our minds adapt to situational change very protectively. The default setting for the human brain is one of defensiveness, it has had to be for our survival, protecting us from predators and the natural disasters that have long dominated our ancestors’ lives. Defensiveness in this context means arousal of our fight, flight or freeze mechanism.

Change is the ultimate threat to our existence and yet we have to cope with it continuously. This ability to cope in primeval times kept us safe from saber-toothed tigers and other immediate threats, but the prehistoric world did not change as quickly as our modern times and our early ancestors were born into a world that was very much the same as the one they died in.

On top of crisis like this global pandemic, in the last, in the last 20 years the world population has increased by around 1.6 billion, over half of us have left the farms and became urbanites and 90% of us are connected to the internet. Our modern day stress arises from the conflict between our biology, which is set up to adjust to things slowly and our environment which has become superfast.

Ironically, we are responsible for much of this stress through inventions, innovations, exploration etc. Our brain, which really hasn’t changed much in thousands of years, not surprisingly finds coping with these all these changes difficult.

Adapt to change or suffer the consequences
Those who are unable to adapt to change suffer more than those of us who are resilient to change.

Stress has been linked to as much as 90% of doctor visits and can lead to early death, disease and a poor quality of life. In the early nineteen-seventies, sociologist and former editor of Fortune magazine Alvin Tofler, warned of the need to adapt on an individual basis or perish and leading New Zealand researcher Peter Gluckman echoes these sentiments in what he calls a mismatch – where we have built a world that no longer fits our bodies.

A study in thirty countries involving over 3300 people found the healthiest participants were those who were more resilient and managed to avoid feeling the impacts of stress – this avoidance strategy is a main tenant of resilience training which teaches you how to manage stress to improve not only your personal life but in business as well.

The EMA offers course on resilience that can be run virtually and tailored to your business. For more information contact Deborah Law on 021 636 799 or email deborah.law@ema.co.nz

Haddo D’Audney is a Training Facilitator at the EMA.

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