About Baby Steps
The Stress Manifesto
When pressure increases exponentially over time, one of two things can happen; you end up with a brilliant, precious stone considered the hardest substance on earth, or you end up with burnout.
Whether we’re aware of it or not, we are living in an epidemic of stress. Every day we face pressures (both internal and external) that push down on us and affect our ability to feel joy in our lives.
This pressure is the greatest (and most senseless) threat to our wellbeing as a species. It does not discriminate, it does not have a sense of propriety, and it does not go away on its own.
Unfortunately for us, life (and stress) happens.
We asked a bot to describe what it means to be human. Predictably, it missed the point.
“Humans possess physical characteristics such as bipedalism, opposable thumbs, and a large brain relative to body size.” – not a human
To the bot’s credit, being human is a difficult state to describe.
What sets us apart from the not-humans is how we experience life. We feel deeply, we hurt equally so and sometimes, we experience stress. While major causes of stress – like relationships, finances or work – are easy to point the finger at, it’s the little things that seem to matter most. Small sadnesses that add up and quickly overwhelm.
Being a parent
One of the hardest things that those on their parenting journey face is how at odds it is with being human. There often isn’t time for human things (like sleep or self-care). It’s only at night when the kids are finally in bed that the thought rushes back to your mind: oh yeah, I’m a person!
Parents face their own particular set of pressures – to breastfeed or not to breastfeed, choosing the ‘right’ doctor/daycare/school, being mindful to ALWAYS display gentle parenting and avoid judgement – and when these compound with their regular human pressures, it can easily become too much.
It couldn’t get any more complicated than that, right?
Being a doctor
Contrary to popular belief, doctors are not born doctors; they emerge first as humans and later have to reconcile their human demands with those of their patients’. Some of them, throwing caution to the wind, also become parents.
What happens when you add human pressure + parenting pressure + doctor pressure? Historically, nothing good. The long hours, heavy workload and ultimate stress of being responsible for society’s medical wellbeing take their toll, leaving many doctors with burnout.
In the medical industry, a deeply embedded professional culture places pride in taking on all this pressure – that it builds resilience (or a diamond, if you will). But it’s a system that is unsustainable for many, and it’s starting to show.
Many doctors today are finding that, for their own mental health and happiness, working fewer hours is what brings balance back. Increasing their family or personal time is the only way to compensate for the stress of their working life and as a result, they gain experience at a slower rate and see fewer patients.
So, what’s the answer?
The bad news is, there is no one-size-fits-all cure to stress. What we can do is fill the space around us with calmness, kindness and joy, so that when the pressure hits, it doesn’t hit so hard.
But it’s not just up to the individual; communities, businesses and workplaces all need to be more proactive about facilitating this space so that stress in all its iterations can be better managed. Humans need kindness, parents need help and doctors need a system that supports their lifework.
By connecting the dots, we end up with happier, healthier humans.