Coming in a variety of forms, stress is absolutely everywhere in the world; It’s a toxin which in small doses is okay and some might even say is beneficial, but even the mightiest of structures can buckle or fall under excessive doses. Looking at stress in a mechanical everyday sense, if a skyscraper is not built with enough reinforcement then the building will simply fall – So why are we as humanity, a civilisation or individuals, any different?
In one of the best uses of my engineering degree in years, let’s look at it with some simple engineering mathematics:
I can appreciate that many people won’t see this correlation, but let’s look into the products one by one.
Let’s take force to begin with. The amount of force being applied to any mechanical unit or simply even our weight on a piece of wood; we all know too much demand/too much force will cause the wood to break. Therefore, scaling this any which way or how we put it into a form of context, no matter how great the structure/person - its destined to fail with too much force being applied.
Now let’s tilt the perspective. Using us, humanity as a prime example. We keep applying stress from every direction from social demands such as how to look, how to dress, what to eat or what we should be doing with our lives and it will lead to all sorts of ailments such as Eating disorders or anxiety disorders – Too much stress and the structure, our psyche will simply breakdown.
Moving onto the area - This is something which is completely in our control, may be not in the respects in childhood or adolescence because of variables outside of our control, but this is where we can come into play and learn about mental health, build resilience and "be more kind" to others in a way to build up an "Area of resilience".
Taking a popular analogy of a stiletto on a sheet of ice; all the weight of the wearer is pointing onto a very small area which is a focus point. In this set up, the ice will fail much quicker than spreading out the weight, say using a flat shoe, or even snow shoes (the ones which look like tennis rackets) the sheet of ice is less likely to fail.
"This is all well and good, but how does this apply to us/me!" I hear you ask?
Applying this to us as an individual; this area, much like the stiletto vs the snow shoe paradigm, is totally in our control. If we have no experiences, no teachings in mental health then this - what I like to call "Area of resilience" - will be much smaller and our tolerance to this force variable in society is much less.
Now that I have been through the horrific trauma of mental illness; I have learnt how to cope through what I suffer with, how to deal with more pressures, more social force and when I just need to have a break. I know if I compare myself to now and before I was in such a place; I can tolerate a lot more now and therefore my "Area of resilience" is bigger because I've learnt the hard way.
(I really hope this makes sense?...)
Bring it all together - Why is this important?
To use an age old adage - "Prevention is better/cheaper than the cure".
To truly prevent how mental health effects us as individuals but also as a society, we need to build up our personal "Area or resilience" in order to take more force and therefore our stress levels may be sustained at a higher level, how much we can tolerate and even self help before it gets too much.
If we all wear stilettos on the ice which lets say is our mental health, we have not got a chance to stay above the icy depths below; if we teach ourselves, or even incorporate more mental health lessons at school age either in adolescence or childhood, we build up our resilience we know how to look after ourselves, and maybe; just maybe we learn to have a spare pair of snow shoes which we can give to someone else.
Just to leave you with another example, hopefully this will put my point across better:
If we built a building correct in the first place, we wont need to keep throwing resource and build more supports in while the building crumbles around us. If we don't build it correctly and the building is already crumbling; the chances are no matter what we do with it - its going to fall down.
If we as people can teach, help, and take on-board issues with mental health, we can build children, teens and young adults to be structures of resilience which can withstand a greater amount of pressure at school, work or even in society in today's world.
Who knows, maybe if we all as people in positions to teach the next generation get this right; maybe we can help make the twisted world into a better place?
Lots of love,
Be kind, stay safe, stay strong
Mental Health Runner