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"Notes" #62

"Happy New Year!" I personally don't feel all that optimistic about 2022; there are just too many people still exerting their "right" to be stupid and not vaccinating and so are keeping the whole COVID thing going. Enough of that downer stuff. I just gave my head a good shake (or was it the scotch I just had a shot of). Whatever, I'm my old positive self again and hope you are as well.

Stress, Serotonin and Depression

The human body is a remarkable vessel that is complex beyond comprehension. When one of its systems becomes impaired due to injury or illness, our body has the ability to "pick up the slack" by using one of its other systems to compensate. A good example of this is when we lose our vision. Automatically, our hearing and intuition improve.

However, one of the few systems that does not have an alternative backup mechanism is when we are compelled to deal with stress. When under stress, either real or perceived, the body not only doesn't produce more of the hormones-Serotonin and Dopamine-that are required to deal with this higher level of stress, but it actually cuts back their production and sometimes stops producing them altogether.

My background in biological science is weak, so I won't pretend to understand, nor try to explain the cellular workings of the natural upper hormones that are found in the brain. I do know, however, that Serotonin and Dopamine are responsible for our being upbeat.

When we are under stress, the body stops producing these hormones and we feel flat. As mentioned, the system doesn't adjust and our body doesn't make up for these absent hormones. In fact, we experience a double whammy!

First, the stressful situation itself weighs heavily upon us, and second, we are then forced to carry on without these vital hormones. If the stressful situation is perceived to continue for an extended period of time, we could become depressed.

There is no simple solution to stress. Still, that hasn't stopped hundreds of authors from selling their books to explain what you can do to reduce the stress in your life. And although I just said there is no simple solution, here I am about to give you one.

The simplest methods that anyone can use to compensate for the depletion of Serotonin and Dopamine are:

You can change the stress level in your life by getting rid of some of the negatives-change your address, quit your job, fire your backstabbing friend.
You can change your perception of what is stressful by taking better care of yourself-eat better, exercise more, create more networks of friends, find more to laugh about.
Take pills-antidepressants.

Laughter is a reflex; it's a free pharmacy of Serotonin

"Communication & Relationships", Dan Rosin


Reader Response
I enjoyed your #60 notes Dan.  Did the PC reply to your letter?
No they have not replied as yet.
I have a question:  what happens to people's common sense and intelligence when they get elected?
Politics is like any other culture--you experience it, and then you learn it's nuances, then you become it. Politics is not about doing good for the people, it's about getting elected and remaining in POWER.


I was sitting at the bar staring at my drink when a large, trouble-making biker steps up next to me, grabs my drink and gulps it down in one swig.

"Well, whatcha' gonna do about it?" he says, menacingly, as I burst into tears.

"Come on, man," the biker says, "I didn't think you'd cry. I can't stand to see a man crying."

"This is the worst day of my life," I said. "I'm a complete failure.

I was late to a meeting and my boss fired me. When I went to the parking lot, I found my car had been stolen and I don't have any insurance. I left my wallet in the cab I took home. I found my wife with another man ... and then my dog bit me."

"So, I came to this bar to work up the courage to put an end to it all.

I buy a drink, I drop a capsule in it and sit here watching the poison dissolve. Then you show up and drink the whole thing!

But, Darn, enough about me, how are you doing?"


Workplace Stress  

Many Canadian workers say workplace stress has negatively affected them physically or psychologically, with one in five claiming it has limited their careers.

Physically, 53 per cent of working Canadians say they experience headaches, clenched jaws, indigestion, constipation or diarrhoea, increased perspiration, and fatigue or insomnia due to stress.

Psychologically, 55 per cent experience anxiety, irritability with co-workers, defensiveness, anger, mood swings, and feelings of helplessness or of being trapped.

Behaviourally, 52 per cent say stress in the workplace causes them to be impatient, procrastinate, quick to argue, withdraw or isolate themselves from others, neglect responsibilities, and perform poorly.

Also, 30 per cent say stress has prevented them from being recognized for their contribution at work and 22 per cent believe it has prevented them from being moved up in their company.

Stephen Stein, a clinical psychologist states, the good news is, you can learn or improve your emotional skills...even in the presence of stress. If individuals monitor and interpret their emotions and the emotions of others, then apply that knowledge to better succeed in dealing with the world around them, they have a better chance of experiencing workplace success. A strong emotional intelligence can help build positive relationships with colleagues and improve performance- the ideal formula for workplace success.

I believe what Stein is getting at is, before you get all emotional and react to what is being said, you'd best really listen to what is being said and think about the emotional impact of your response.         (Eric Beauchesne)

A young lady confidently walked around the room while leading and explaining stress management to an audience with a raised glass of water. Everyone knew she was going to ask the ultimate question, 'half empty or half full?'... She fooled them all .... "How heavy is this glass of water?" she inquired with a smile. Answers called out ranged from 8 oz. to 20 oz.
She replied, "The absolute weight doesn't matter. It depends on how long I hold it. If I hold it for a minute, that's not a problem. If I hold it for an hour, I'll have an ache in my right arm. If I hold it for a day, you'll have to call an Ambulance. In each case it's the same weight, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes."
She continued, "and that's the way it is with stress. If we carry our burdens all the time, sooner or later, as the burden becomes increasingly heavy, we won't be able to carry on."

"As with the glass of water, you have to put it down for a while and rest before holding it again. When we're refreshed, we can carry on with the burden - holding stress longer and better each time practiced. So, as early in the evening as you can, put all your burdens down. Don't carry them through the evening and into the night... Pick them up tomorrow.


Retread is a previously shared article--sometime over the last 12 years--that I feel is worth repeating. I put it at the end so it can be ignored if you have already read it.

The Cost Of Stress To The Economy 

The cost of stress to the Canadian economy is estimated at $33 billion a year in lost productivity as well as billions more in medical costs. With almost 1,000,000 Canadians suffering from a mental health disorder, it's now the fastest growing category of disability insurance claims in Canada. Some blame the hectic pace of modern life, the trend to smaller and fragmented families, often separated by great distances, or the mass migration from the small stable communities to huge, impersonal cities.

Stress is probably the most overused and misused word in the English language--with the possible exception of love. It means everything and nothing, states workplace counsellor Scott Shepherd.

Another perspective: Did the world get harder, or did people get softer? Or are employers stuck with an age-old labour force of their own creation? It's not as if today's children will be sent to work in the mines. Women aren't struggling to raise six kids, while mourning several more that died in infancy. Men aren't spending 12 hours a day ploughing fields behind a mule, or sweating over some mechanical monster of the Industrial Revolution, waiting for an arm or leg to be dragged into its innards. No, odds are you've got indoor work, no heavy lifting, a 40-hour week (in theory), holiday time, and a big-screen TV waiting at home. How hard can life be?

Did you know that stress and mental health issues are now the leading reason for long-term disability claims, ahead of cancer? Nationally it is estimated that 35 million working days are lost to mental conditions each year among our 10 million workers. The annual cost of just depression and distress is $8.1 billion in lost productivity. The silent scourges of productivity--stressed-out workers who show up to work and accomplish little. It has been shown that a generous benefit plan will actually increase the likelihood of workers booking off. A study on sick leave published by Statistics Canada found that unionized workers with disability insurance are far more likely to take extended leaves. Are these workers sick, or do they just feel entitled?

So what is the real story about stress? Is it as Angela Patmore, a former Fulbright Scholar states in her book, The Truth about Stress, The concept of mitigating stress is bullocks. Everywhere in the West we see this message, you will drop dead, you will go bad, avoid negative emotions, avoid emotional situations. None of our ancestors would have understood a word of this. Or as Bob Briner, an occupational psychologist states, stress is a meaningless concept, one that is creating a generation of "emotional hypochondriacs." One of the main explanations for the popularity of stress is that people like simple catchall ways of explaining why bad things happen, particularly illness. Or is it because people are working longer and harder, are working various shifts (hard enough on the system) that also often conflict with their partner's work schedule (very hard on a relationship), both parents working, living away from support systems in big, impersonal cities (loss of community)-- living lives totally out of balance.     (Ken MacQueen)

You decide-- are we wimps preying on the poor insurance companies (LTD), or legitimate victims of a way of life that is unbalanced through no/some/all fault of our own?