Many of us feel stressed by a visit to the doctor, even for a routine checkup. But how about the stress that doctors endure? Recently, the Mayo Clinic studied how stressed doctors tended to make more mistakes. The Journal of the American Medical Association published the results: stress was a primary cause of error.
With marriage and family, we know that stress can cause overreaction to the normal ups and downs of everyday life. Often, when you behave towards someone you love in a way that leaves you feeling ashamed, you are over-stressed.
Stress increases the likelihood of making mistakes. By relentless marketing, Pepsi eroded Coca Cola’s share of the market to 24%. After five years of stress, Coke CEO, Robert Goizueta, launched New Coke in the spring of 1985. By summer, New Coke was a marketing disaster and the drink was cancelled. Coke Classic returned and replaced the drink that America had shunned.
What is stress? Psychology texts offer dozens of definitions but it’s mostly feeling that important aspects of your life are outside your control. You lack time to do what you think must be done. Fate is flinging circumstances at you for which you lack the resources. Costs are climbing faster than your ability to increase revenue. Stress overwhelms you when you feel that you’re not in control of consequential developments in your life. Paradoxically this makes you less capable of making smart decisions and executing them.
Two psychiatrists developed the eponymous Holmes-Rahe Stress Scale which assigns stress values to various life events. Losing a family member and getting married earned very similar scores.
But ancient Jewish wisdom has been teaching this for two thousand years.
The 14th chapter of the Book of Judges tells of Samson’s marriage.
Samson said to them I will pose for you a riddle and if you solve it
during the seven days of feasting…
Similarly, when Laban cheated his son-in-law Jacob out of his wife, Rachel, he insisted that Jacob complete the week-long wedding celebrations for Leah, and then he could also marry Rachel. (Genesis 29:27)
To this day, religious Jewish weddings are celebrated for an entire week. But weddings are not the only seven-day life cycle observance.
And he [Joseph] made seven days of mourning for his father [Jacob]…
Sure enough, religious Jews mourn the death of a close relative for an intense seven days.
Ancient Jewish wisdom teaches that both the death of a close relative and getting married involve considerable stress and that we must devote a week for a healthy return to some normality We need to give ourselves time to adjust; in the cases of the largest changes like death and marriage seven days is the starting point.
Ancient Jewish wisdom provides us with a second critical lesson for handling stress. It can be significantly alleviated by involving other people. Thus a wedding feast requires the presence of a group of people at each evening’s celebration during that first week of marriage. Similarly, during the first seven days following the death of a close relative, the mourner stays home surrounded by a constant stream of friends and well-wishers. This first week of mourning is known as ‘shiva’
These insights are useful in stressful times. If possible, avoid decisions or actions in the immediate aftermath of overwhelming situations. Try to spread the effects out over some time. Just as importantly, involve others. If your relationship with God is in good shape, talk to Him about needing help to regain control. Also talk candidly to friends, relatives, colleagues, or mentors. New avenues of deliverance will open up.
This is exactly what happened to us. Our best-selling book, Buried Treasure: Life Lessons from the Lord’s Language had been out of print for two years. We were stressed out by the legal and financial challenges of recovering our own copyright. Using the techniques outlined above, we prevailed and won, and now you can do the same by buying yourself and your loved ones copies of this powerful, life-improving book. It includes new material never published before along with a message from Pastor John Hagee and kind words from Glenn Beck. Click here for more information.
This week’s Susan’s Musings: Susan’s Musings:
Susan’s Musings will not appear this week but will return next week.
Read the most recent Ask the Rabbi question and answer here.
My daughter, Sue, is 48, diabetic and unmarried. She gets very depressed. Financially, she works from paycheck to paycheck and prays for a financial breakthrough, to have a business of her own, to be able to meet her health issues and other pressing needs. She also takes care of her Mother, which adds to her financial pressure. Is there any suggestion you could give her at this time? Thank You.