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Mental Health Topics

© 2001 Wilmington Family Counseling Service, Inc.

As we enter the new century and look back at the 20th, one of the greatest changes for the individual person is an excelleration of stress. Our economy has shifted from agrarian to industrial to technological. With those changes the speed of our lives has increased to reflect the speed of the microchip. During the 90's work stress has soared as many corporations have been forced to downsize to stay competitive in our booming economy. Those whose jobs were not eliminated are expected to do more.

In addition, the United States passed Japan in 1999 to become the country in which people work the most hours at their jobs. At the same time as stress has increased, people's support systems have dwindled. Although many labor and time saving devices such as microwaves and washing machines have made homemaking easier over the century, do they offset the trend to families with all adults working and no housewives to do the care taking? Although mid-century predictions were for robots who would pick up the slack, no robotic housewives have become a reality.

As the pace of our lives have increased, we have sought respite from stress too often in substances which we imagine will relieve our symptoms but often times only add to them. Mind-altering substances like alcohol, pot, coke, and others may give a passing sense of relief or even euphoria. Nicotine and caffeine may keep us wired, so we feel we can push ourselves to do more. Food from chips and candy bars to hamburgers and pizza may become our reward system as well as another short-cut by using fast-food meals to save time from making home-cooked ones.

Below are listed some specific suggestions for small changes that may make a difference in your stress level over time.

Stress unfortunately can be debilitating to our families and other relationships as well as ourselves. A recent book, Ask the Children: What America's Children Really Think About Working Parents, reveals that children do not long for more time with their parents they long for us to be less tired and less pressured or to make more money so we'll feel less stress. It's amazing how aware they are of how our stress impacts their lives.

In the new century we cannot hope to eliminate stress, but you personally can choose to adopt one or more of these suggestions to manage your own stress more effectively. Often times making changes -- even small ones -- is hard to do on your own. Services are available to learn how to cope with stress better, change troublesome situations, or change substance use habits which now contribute to your stress. For these and other suggestions regarding stress, read:

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