Ed Talks About Stress

As I inch slowly to retirement or cutting back my time (I’ve been saying this for three years now) I am inundated with examples of how I “should” be spending my leisure time.

Much of the propaganda about retirement extols the virtue of the removal of work related stress.

I’m wondering if “stress” is getting a bum rap.

Most of the films and TV shows we watch place characters in some sort of jeopardy. We watch with baited breath and racing hearts to see if/how they can extricate themselves from peril. Why do we go out of our way and often pay for the privilege of raising our anxiety level?

We do it for the rush.

Our jobs can be filled with issues that raise our anxiety level or just make us nervous. I wouldn’t recommend being in a constant state of anxiety, but does that mean that when we stop working we should just avoid anything that is emotionally taxing?

Despite the increased interest, and waiting lists for Creative Aging programs, there are always people who let their fears dictate their response. Most often we hear, “I’ve never done that”, or “I’d be too nervous”, or “Sing? In front of people?”

While work always puts problems in front of us to be solved (that’s why it’s work), the solving of those problems gives us a dopamine rush. It’s not something you’re going to get by figuring out the shortest route to Walmart. If we don’t find something meaningful that challenges us we can find ourselves bent out of shape over the container of milk that went bad.

Can it be frustrating to learn to write a poem, sing in a chorus, or paint a picture when you’ve never done it before? Of course, but if you’re doing it with others who are new at it, in a supportive atmosphere, the rewards and the relationships are well worth it.

And someday, in the not too distant future, I hope to find that out.

Ed Friedman

Ed Friedman

Ed is the Executive Director and Co-Founder of Lifetime Arts. He has spent over 30 years in parallel careers serving the arts community, and older adults and their families.

Artwork by Lisa Curran
Ed Friedman

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