THE BLOG
11/02/2015 09:58 GMT | Updated 13/04/2015 06:59 BST

An Open Letter From Stress

Nowadays, you treat me like the enemy. I'm a disease to be feared, which, by the way, only makes me worse. Sitting at your desk, with your new-fangled worries, pressing all my buttons with nary an outlet in sight. Seriously, they don't call me a fight or flight response for nothing.

I, Stress, am at the end of your tether. I'm finding grey hairs and losing sleep. What's my problem? You're my problem. And it's time to sort things out.

For eons, I was the good guy. I evolved to help the fit survive. My reflexes saved your ancestral line from death by lions and tigers and bears. Oh my. Without me, you would be propping up the food chain with the other plant life. I was the hero of the homo sapien. You think it's easy to ramp up the adrenaline when tooth and claw are bearing down on your host? But I did it. For you.

Nowadays, you treat me like the enemy. I'm a disease to be feared, which, by the way, only makes me worse. Sitting at your desk, with your new-fangled worries, pressing all my buttons with nary an outlet in sight. Seriously, they don't call me a fight or flight response for nothing.

We need to repair this relationship. So here is my helpful advice on making the most of me, your friend, Stress. Let's address this separation and restore our mutual balance before evolution weeds out your adrenal glands for good.

What's in a name?

A lot, actually. Whether you believe in the power of nominative determinism or just hate pronouns, names are an important aspect of the human condition, allowing familiarisation to breed and bonds to, well, bind. Think parental attachment and castaway volleyballs.

Call me Frank, Bert or Tallulah, just call me something. Not only will it allow me a modicum of pride, it can help you disassociate me from your own personality. Everyone's a winner, baby.

Talk to me, chastise me, even blame me. Just call me by name. And when I'm fogging up your brain and causing your heart to flutter like a moth at a lightshow, at least you'll have something to curse.

Tallulah may be playing up, but you, most certainly, are not.

Exercise your demons

Unless you're a very particular type of person, you're not chased by panthers every day of the week, right? No, not every day. But whether you're running from Bagheera or an upcoming deadline, I'm not one to miss out on the party. In truth, I can't really distinguish between the two (I'm a physiological response, not Mastermind) so I'll just wind you up and wait for the fallout.

And you can sit behind your desk, chewing cuticles until I wear myself out on your heart rate, or you can insult a bear, grab your running shoes and exhaust me the old-fashioned way.

Or just have a dance, if you fancy. Safety first.

Keep your friends close

Okay, I know I can be a bit of an embarrassment. There's nothing sexy about heavy sweats and palpitations. But I'm a people person, if nothing else. They bring out the best in me, or at least quell the worst. Left to my own devices, I'll grow to fill any space. When it's just you and me, I can fill a room with worry, blowing up until proportion can no longer contain me. But one, you know, is smaller in a crowd.

So if you tic more than an enthusiastic teacher or blush if even a storm's eye strays your way, point me out, show me up, own me; there's nothing quite like a spotlight to chase away the gloom.

Mind your language

I'm sneaky. I admit it. So sneaky, in fact, that you can't always spot where you stop and I begin. I've insinuated myself so much into that wonderful psyche that I'm no longer any more than a sneeze or a blink. I'm part of you, right? Wrong.

I'm the worst kind of bully. I've taken your lunch money and convinced you that you spent it. I dominate your behaviour and have leeched onto your very lexicon so that even you are convinced that my crimes are your own - and are quite willing to confess to them.

Listen to yourself next time you feel my spirits rising. I'm stressed, you'll say; as though you're to blame, as though you have choice in the matter. You don't. It's biology, toots, and I'm running the nervous system.

So switch up your language to reflect the truth. You may feel a bit of stress, but you're not stress itself. I am.