There is a lot to do today so let's start with the winners of the drawing for Norm Jenson's book, Mostly Anecdotal: Stories that we told you about on Wednesday. May I have a drum roll please.
And the winners are:
• Estelle D
Congratulations to you all. What the three of you need to do now, is email me (use the "Contact" link at the top of the page and send me your snailmail address. I'll then get the books off to you forthwith.
TIME GOES BY 2016 DONATION WEEK REMINDER
Only two more days until this TGB donation drive for 2017 is done. You can read the details of what it is about on Monday's post.
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ELDERS, STRESS AND THE U.S. GOVERNMENT
When even The American Institute of Stress can't define what stress is, you know you're in trouble:
“Stress is not a useful term for scientists because it is such a highly subjective phenomenon that it defies definition.”
[Eight opaque paragraphs later:]
“While everyone can’t agree on a definition of stress, all of our experimental and clinical research confirms that the sense of having little or no control is always distressful – and that’s what stress is all about.”
Uh-huh - stress is distressful. That is what is called a tautology – defining a word by using the same word.
”Due to the overabundance of stress in our modern lives, we usually think of stress as a negative experience, but from a biological point of view, stress can be a neutral, negative, or positive experience.”
If I've ever read anything about neutral or positive stress, I don't recall, but it confirms for me that sometimes stress is a good thing. In my career, for example, deadlines had me gritting my teeth but without them I would probably never have finished editing a story or video nor would my work have been as good.
Except for that one Medicinenet reference, all I ever see is how dangerous stress is. Here is one more definition of negative stress, from an article at Medical News Today, that makes the most sense to me:
”We generally use the word 'stress' when we feel that everything seems to have become too much - we are overloaded and wonder whether we really can cope with the pressures placed upon us.”
What's important about that definition and my intro to it (“makes most sense to me”) is that stress – whatever it is or isn't – is individual. You might sail through a situation that leaves me a puddle on the floor. Or vice versa.
According to my cursory reading on stress, it is brought about in elders by such factors as financial hardship, physical decline, healthcare changes, loneliness and there are many, many other “smaller” stressers. Whatever the cause, the effects on our bodies are profound and dangerous to our health. Here is a partial list of stress responses:
Feeling of insecurity
Hypertension (high blood pressure)
Lower immunity against diseases
Pins and needles
What brought up all this rumination on stress is that since election day, I've felt more worry, fear, anxiety and most of all, helplessness, than I can ever recall. Every day, all the time – and it is not related only to the president. It's the Republican Congress too.
Voucherize Medicare? Privatize Social Security? Repeal Obamacare? And those are almost incidental when you hear this from a White House Senior Adviser Stephen Miller:
Let's repeat the most important part of his statement:
“...the powers of the president to protect our country are very substantial, and will not be questioned."
Does that not chill you to the bone? And what can I, personally, possibly do to counter this most recent, terrifying turn toward autocratic rule in the United States?
Not much that I can see but it eats at me every day. Sometimes I can barely breathe and with each new move toward the right by the government, I am more frightened – read: stressed – and I'm not alone.
Here are some of the suggestions from the medical community for dealing with stress:
Cut down on caffeine
Talk with friends
It is one thing if the sources of stress are from our own lives. In that case, those suggestions are useful. But what if the source of stress is your government? And what if the people comparing the Trump government to 1930's Germany are not hysterics?
So much for a quiet, fulfilling retirement. Breathe, everyone. Breathe.