Is stress my friend or foe?
If friend, please stay
If foe, please go
I am not sure how to know
Stress is part of every life
Companion from birth to death
Wrinkles and aches its monogram
Wrought by human demand
These are stressful times for many of us. We just got through the pandemic, or not, and now we have other worries. The market is going down and the price of everything is going up.
What to do about stress? A quick search reveals many answers. From meditation to relaxation; from exercise to fantasize. Some say change your attitude and others say take a pill to help your mood.
“Reality is the leading cause of stress amongst those in touch with it.”
I am sure stress has been with us for as long as we have existed. It took different forms through history and probably is responsible for major breakthroughs in human life.
Humans were born into stress. We walked the savanna and jungle searching for sustenance and ran from lions, hippos, and other wild things until we learned how to kill for survival. We ate what we killed or found for thousands of years. Winters were lean times and summers were abundant until we learned to store grain and salt beef and fish to even out the seasons.
We learned how to farm and raise animals but the stress continued. Too much rain, too little sun, or vice versa. Thieves and poachers too lazy to produce for themselves.
Early humans discovered how to use the fire from the heavens (most likely a lightning strike) to enhance that bison or hippo steak. Someone invented the wheel because they were tired of dragging things on the ground.
“To achieve great things, two things are needed:
a plan and not quite enough time.”
If everything glides along without effort, there is no need to change. Stress causes change. How we deal with stress may be the most important thing we can do for our mental health.
Too much stress can cause medical issues from headaches to anxiety attacks. Too much stress can kill you, if it lasts long enough. But stress can have positive effects too. You must stress your muscles to get stronger. That includes your brain.
“That which does not kill us makes us stronger.” —Friedrich Nietzsche
So what to do about our current stress? For most of us, by comparison to many, we have food and shelter and a reasonably comfortable existence. That reduces some of the stress but we still worry about the cost of gas and food. We still care about others in the U.S. and other countries where they are less fortunate, and maybe even at war. There is crime and poverty and a hundred other concerns.
What to do? We cannot solve every problem in the world so perhaps we help solve the ones nearer to us. We can donate to a local non-profit or food bank. We can volunteer. We have many opportunities to help others. Believe me, that will reduce some stress.
“If you really want to escape the things that harass you, what you’re needing is not to be in a different place but to be a different person.”
―Lucius Annaeus Seneca, Letters from a Stoic
If there is anything we here at Thrive can do to help you reduce your stress about the market or your portfolio, please give us a call.