SPEED UP, SLOW DOWN

How to de-stress

Activated - - FRONT PAGE - By Chris Hunt CHRIS HUNT LIVES IN GREAT BRI­TAIN AND HAS BEEN READ­ING AC­TI­VATED SINCE IT WAS FIRST PUB­LISHED IN 1999.

The books on the shelf have sim­i­lar ti­tles: Slow­ing Down Mod­ern Life, The Rush Cul­ture, Putting a Price on Speed … Most ev­ery­one agrees that con­tem­po­rary life is lived in the fast lane, and we’re bat­tling the con­se­quences in the form of stress and other mal­adies. It might seem as though life was much sim­pler a hun­dred years ago, but even changes tak­ing place back then were a cause for con­cern for peo­ple at the time, as il­lus­trated in the fol­low­ing ex­tracts:

The cause of the … in­crease in ner­vous dis­ease is in­creased de­mand made by the con­di­tions of mod­ern life. … Ev­ery­thing is done in a hurry. We talk across a con­ti­nent, tele­graph across an ocean, take a trip to Chicago for an hour’s talk. … What won­der if the pres­sure is al­most more than our nerves can bear.— G. Shrady (from P.C. Knapp), “Are Ner­vous Dis­eases In­creas­ing?” Med­i­cal Record, 1896

With the ad­vent of cheap news­pa­pers and su­pe­rior means of lo­co­mo­tion … the dreamy quiet old days are over. … Men now live, think, and work at ex­press speed. They have their Mer­cury or Post laid on their break­fast ta­ble in the early morn­ing, and if they are too hur­ried to snatch from it the news dur­ing that meal, they carry it off, to be sulk­ily read as they travel … leav­ing them no time to talk with the friend who may share the com­part­ment with them. … The hurry and bus­tle of mod­ern life … lacks the quiet and re­pose of the pe­riod when our fore­fa­thers, the day’s work done, took their ease.— Mor­ley Wil­liam Smith in An­cient and Mod­ern, 1886

If it was seen as that bad well over a cen­tury ago, when horses were still the main means of trans­porta­tion, land­line phones were a rar­ity, and the in­ter­net had not even been dreamed of, what hope is there for us to­day? Per­haps the an­swer is that no mat­ter the cir­cum­stances of the world around us, we can slow down, take time to talk with a friend, to no­tice the daisies at our feet, to sa­vor our food. We can lift up our eyes to the heav­ens and dis­cover that the stars are still silently twin­kling. De-stress­ing is a mat­ter of the mind and heart.

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