The truth about stress…


Having left where I’m working in a fairly placid (bordering on the cheerful) mood, I boarded my train at East Didsbury to get to Piccadilly in order to catch the train home. The Didsbury train allows about 5–6 minutes at Piccadilly to make my connection. If, by a quirk of fate, it happens to be late or gets delayed on the line, I miss my connection and have to get the next one which means a 30 minute wait.

As y’all might be guessing it didn’t arrive at the other end in time for my train and my mood took a sharp swing into a near homicidal fury. I HATE ‘just’ missing trains. At this point I stomped off to Carluccio’s and ordered a large glass of house red to calm my temper.

It didn’t work.

I therefore, arrived home in foul mood [again]. This was picked up immediately by the Main Squeeze as I passed her in the kitchen and made for the wine bottle whilst grunting at her. After a good glug of wine I related the transport debacle with some bitterness, but after I’d eaten I’d calmed down a little.

As there was [again] sod-all on the telly of any interest the Main Squeeze suggested we watched ‘The Truth About Stress’. An hour-long documentary about the causes of, and dealing with the everyday tribulations of modern life. This turned out to be a propaganda film on behalf of the ‘nanny state’ presented by Fiona Phillips. Comfort eating the wrong foods, drinking too much, not enough exercise… the list goes on. I could almost hear the tut-tutting as I watched this drivel.

Early on in the programme Fiona met up in some woods with a professor who served up the theory of turning stress into excitement(?). To illustrate this he had Fiona have ago on a fairly high zip wire. She was approaching her task with some trepidation ( i’m guessing she’s not great with heights…) and was told, as she was about to descend into the woods at a fair old lick, to keep in mind that she should be turning her ‘stress into excitement’. This she did; and ended up on her arse in a pile of leaves at the other end. Excited and not at all stressed. Well done Fiona!

I thought this demonstration simplistic in the extreme, bordering on charlatanism. This was outdone by a further example:

Another academic had a broad sample of the populous take part in Karaoke… I ask yer! He too used the ‘stress/excitement’ theory. It turns out that a fair chunk of folks get nervous about performing in public (who’d’ve thought it…?) This example was, I thought, straying even more into the realms of twaddle than the zip-wire experiment.

Generally speaking, once confronted with this situation, and realising that everyone else present is about to make a tit of themselves, it’s a snap to make the ‘stress/excitement’ transition, camp it up and enjoy.

Next came Mindfulness… Oh dear…

As I’m sure you can imagine I view this concept with more than a grain of scepticism, not to say scorn. As far as I can tell this baloney is bandied about by folks who;
a. Have the time to put this into practice.
b. Have gullibility to put this into practice.

It turns out that the scientific community is buying into this too; depressing.

‘Mindfulness works on the premise of ‘living in the moment’. Not referring back to the past or worrying about the future. Easier said than done when you used to be a fairly easy-going individual wondering how the fuckery-hell you’ve ended up so disquieted, whilst fretting about how you’re going to navigate your way through the tedious, time constrained drudgery of an up-coming task.

Anyway, they went on to try ‘Mindfulness’ on a group of school children. Getting a bunch of schoolies to lie on mats and ‘feel the stress drain out of your body’ is clearly a cinch because of points A and B above.

Throughout this hokum I opined (rather drunkenly, as by this point I’d had 4 glasses of wine) on the content of this documentary and it’s patronising wagging finger timbre, adding more than a smattering of expletives to illustrate my point. At which point the Main Squeeze just abruptly turned off the television with a deep sigh of sufferance.

I didn’t get to see the end.

Oh; and what was even more depressing about the programme was that the graphics were really nice.