How To Have A More
Contented Life (Are You Suffering From Toxic Stress And The Twenty-first Century
Do you constantly feel unhappy and
discontent - without really knowing why?
Do you feel fed-up with the
world? Do you feel miserable and low - though you know that you are not
depressed enough to need to take pills?
You could be suffering from a
condition I call The Twenty-first Century Blues - a disorder which is a result
of exposure to toxic stress.
Toxic stress is the sort of inescapable
stress that you can't do anything about; the sort of stress that is outside your
control because it is produced entirely by other people's demands and
expectations and by your own, sometimes unconscious, responses to those demands
Like personal stresses, toxic stress can cause an
enormous range of individual symptoms and well-defined diseases. It can cause
headaches, skin rashes and bowel disorders. It can cause asthma, high blood
pressure, heart disease and peptic ulceration. It can cause sleeplessness,
backache and hair loss. It can cause depression, psoriasis and sexual problems.
It can make existing diseases worse and it can increase your susceptibility to
infectious diseases, cancers and psychological problems.
researches over the last twenty years have also convinced me that toxic stress
is responsible for something else; something specific and something that has
never before been recognised as an individual syndrome. I have named the disease
caused by toxic stress `The Twenty-first Century Blues'.
I believe that
`The Twenty-first Century Blues' is almost certainly one of the commonest
diseases in the developed world. I suspect that it is as common as tooth decay
or the common cold. It is certainly far more damaging than any other common
The range of individuals suffering from this discomforting and
incapacitating disease is vast.
The only common factor is that victims of
`The Twenty-first Century Blues' tend to be sensitive, considerate and caring
individuals. The more thoughtful and imaginative you are the more you are likely
to become a victim and the more likely you are to suffer. Toxic stress tends to
be produced by manipulators and by people who are unthinking and insensitive.
Toxic stress does most damage to those who are most easily affected by guilt and
other, similar emotions.
Diagnosing `The Twenty-first Century Blues' is
something that you have to do yourself and to make it relatively easy for you to
make the diagnosis I have listed below the symptoms which are associated with
I have put the symptoms in question form and I want you to
think carefully before answering them. Don't rush through answering them with a
quick 'yes' or 'no'. This is no ordinary quiz.
If you find that you can
honestly answer 'yes' to one or more of these questions then you are, I suspect,
one of the many victims of The Twenty-first Century Blues. The more times you
answered `yes' the more serious your affliction.
Do you often feel that you ought to be doing more with your life? Do
you feel dissatisfied with yourself or your life without really knowing why?
Do you have an uncomfortable - and difficult to
explain - feeling that control of your life is slipping (or has slipped) away
Do you suffer a lot from symptoms and
ailments for which there never seems to be any completely satisfactory
treatment? Do your symptoms or ailments hang on apparently endlessly - never
really disappearing completely?
Do you often feel
nervous or anxious even though you know that you don't really have anything to
be nervous or anxious about?
Even though you may
have a large family and lots of friends do you ever feel strangely and
Do you constantly feel rushed
- unable to find the time to do all the things you feel you ought to do, let
alone the things that you would like to do?
you frequently worry unreasonably about quite trivial insignificant things that
in your heart you know don't really matter?
you constantly feel tired, listless and short of energy - feelings for which
there is no medical explanation?
Do you ever feel
an almost overwhelming and almost irresistible urge to run away from everything?
Do you feel that life isn't as much fun as it used
to be or should be? Do you go for whole days without ever really feeling happy
or feeling glad to be alive?
Have you ever felt
a frightening and unnerving urge to be violent - either to someone close to you
or to some complete stranger who has annoyed you? Have you ever gone cold after
realising how close you have been to initiating a frenzied physical attack on
another human being?
Do you ever feel a
complete sense of despair about the future of the world? Do you ever feel glad
that you are not going to live to see the sort of world your children's children
will inherit when they grow up?
If you have answered YES to one or more
of these questions then there is a very good chance that you are suffering from
The Twenty-first Century Blues.
The more thoughtful and imaginative you
are the more you are likely to become a victim and the more likely you are to
suffer. Victims of the Twenty-first Century Blues tend to be sensitive,
considerate and caring individuals.
The Twenty-first Century Blues is
caused by a variety of stresses.
But there are things you can do to
For example, you can help yourself by trying to know and
understand the forces which drive you.
Only if you know your own driving
forces will you be able to plan your life successfully.
Remember that the pressure from society is insidious and
often difficult to spot.
We are all constantly being pressurised into
doing things that other people want us to do.
To control your own life
and to reduce the damage done to you by stress created by other people's
pressures it is essential that you reassess your priorities as often as you can.
Carefully and deliberately ask yourself what you want out of life. And carefully
and deliberately ask yourself whether the things you are doing are helping you
to achieve your aims.
Consider all these things carefully. Look
constantly at the way you live your life. Understand the forces, desires and
ambitions which drive you onwards.
Ask yourself frequently: `Am I doing
the right thing?'
And never forget that if you aren't doing the right
thing then you are doing the wrong thing.
Only when you know WHY you do
things will you know whether or not they are worth doing.
Vernon Coleman 2005
If you want to know more about toxic stress and
The Twenty-first Century Blues then you might like to read Dr Vernon Coleman's
book How To Relax And Overcome Stress which contains sections dealing
with toxic stress and the `Twenty-first Century Blues'. How To Relax And
Overcome Stress is published in the UK by EMJ Books and contains a good deal
of practical advice on how to conquer toxic stress and The Twenty-first Century
Blues. The book should be available from all good bookshops and libraries. It is
also available from the shop on this Web site.