Saturday, May 8, 2010

Stress: A way of life

Thumbing through some old files, I came across a column I wrote in the mid-90s about "Gulf War Illness".

At the time, veterans of the Persian Gulf War were filing claims for a host of ailments and a special presidential panel reported that many of the problems were "stress related".

Well, duh!

The bulk of the column explores the causes of stress and what strikes me as odd and interesting is I could have written the column last week and it pretty much would capture what's happening in the world today and the challenges many of us are facing.

Here's a taste.

Stress has certainly been a factor for Persian Gulf Vets as they've attempted to make their case and bring it before the American people and the federal government.

And their struggle speaks of our age, the world we live in and many of us continue to find puzzling. The veterans are frustrated and angry. They feel like they have been used and abused -- and now ignored.

Sound familiar?

The demise of corporate America; layoffs and firings; families struggling to stay afloat economically and emotionally; separations and divorces; people alone, isolated adrift.

Frustration, anger, stress!

Welcome to the '90s (now we can add to the 21st Century) and welcome to the club.

So pervasive is this problem that an entire industry has grown up in recent years to help people, families, businesses and communities cope with the problem.

The answers are many and varied.

Focus and work harder. Scale back and simplify. Meditate on your belly button or on things divine. Jog or swim. Take up boxing, karate or ballroom dancing. Join a support group and make a friend. Find God, a therapist or a new hair stylist. Mix and match or pick all of the above.

Or stop, take a deep breath and take the time to figure out the problem, the options that are available, then make a decision.

And that's pretty much where many of us are today ... didn't have a good answer for the Persian Gulf Vets and their problems a decade ago; don't have a good answer today!

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