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The boogeyman is actually stress

Why do people think that their world is more dangerous now than it was thirty years ago? Last time I checked, there were no wars in Canada, life expectancy was on the rise and the homicide rate was on the decline. What part of life has gotten more dangerous?

When I looked up the top causes of death in Canada, I wasn’t particularly surprised to see heart disease and cancer top the list (almost half of all deaths in Canada). This means that stress is probably the most dangerous part of your day.

Are you afraid of stress? Do you go out of your way to avoid it? If you are like most people, the answer is probably, “No.”

What most people seem to fear is not what is really the biggest threat to their health and wellbeing. For instance, most parents have some lingering fear in the back of their mind about kidnapping, whereas we throw our kids into the car without a second thought. This is ironic if you consider that exactly 1 child was kidnapped by a stranger in Manitoba in 2018, whereas nearly 200 children died in car accidents that same year.

That means that cars are 200 times more dangerous to our children than strangers and yet, we don’t fear them.

The same kind of contrast is true when you look at adults. Many people are afraid of walking places, sometimes of even walking around their own neighbourhoods, and often these fears are rooted in the idea of random attacks. Now it is good to be alert and aware when you are out walking, but realistically in 2016, in all of Canada, 58 people were killed in random attacks by strangers, whereas 1895 people died in car accidents.

Cars are dangerous, but for some reason we don’t fear them. If anything people tend to gravitate to them without even a second thought. That being said, even cars don’t even hold a candle to how dangerous stress and inactivity are to your life.

In 2017, 1 in 12 people in Canada over the age of 20 was living with a diagnosed heart disease and approximately 12 of those diagnosed were dying every hour. This hasn’t gotten better since then and here’s the craziest thing, most heart disease is avoidable! Lack of exercise, unhealthy diet and smoking are some of the leading causes.

So… just to recap. Lack of exercise contributes to heart disease (which is killing nearly 300 people a day) and driving is dangerous (killing close to 2000 people a year, injuring nearly 150 000 more). Anyone feel like going for a walk?

Oh right, we can’t go out and walk because it’s too dangerous out there, right?

When I was a kid, the average life expectancy in Canada was 75 years old, now it’s almost 83 years old. This means that life has not gotten more dangerous.

We have just gotten more paranoid.

I don’t think we have become this paranoid on our own, I think the internet and social media have definitely been there to help us along our way. On my news feed, I get terrible stories about random attacks happening in small communities often in the US. Not only could I binge on a steady stream of stories of violence and treachery from all four corners of the world, they now all come complete with video footage.

You can live out someone else’s worst or last moments and feel the fear grip your heart wondering if that terrible thing might happen to you.

I can’t tell you that nothing terrible will ever happen to you, it’s just not a promise that anyone can make. I can tell you though that a sedentary life filled with fear, is a whole lot more of a danger to you than taking a walk in the park.

Not only will getting out and going for a walk improve your heart and lower your stress and anxiety, it will also help you to turn your neighbourhood into a community. Connection is the key to belonging, fulfillment and ultimately happiness. You stand to not only improve your own health, but also to enrich the lives of those around you.

If you started living tomorrow with the reality that stress IS the most dangerous part of your day, would it remind you to breathe? To laugh? To spend more moments in appreciation and less in frustration? It’s the same world you grew up in, you just have to get outside and enjoy it.

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