Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Don't Mess with Stress

Stress is often not given the credit or blame for all it is responsible for. For years I have been told "That is due to stress", "You need to handle your stress better", or "Find a Stress Free Environment" (in this case mythical Shangri-la is about the only place that would meet that qualification)

It was only during the last 3 months, I have come to understand what stress is and how damaging it can be. Stress cannot only cause one to be tired and upset, but it can make handling everyday life challenging at best. I do not know enough to go into the exact medical mental/physical description, however I can tell you that stress alone can be dibilating. Often stress is brought about something inoquesios. It is not necessarily just the loss of a loved one, a new job, new situation, or new challenge.

My eureka moment came when I realized that I was being pulled into intra-family spats that I had nothing to do with - I did not have a dog in the fight. Yet both sides continually tried to drag me into the melee. I, therefore, became collateral damage. Once I announced that unless I have some skin in the game,  leave me out of it.

Stress is physical, not just emotional or mental. It will turn your hair gray, wrinkle your face, and can, possibly, lead to a heart attack or stroke. And, one person's stress may be no issue with another.

There is the southern lady who is totally stressed at the thought of not having clean white ironed napkins for her bridge club. There is the project manager who is stressed simply looking at a deadline, even though there is no reason to think that everything will not come in on time. There is the mother who is stressed to the point of hand wringing at the thought of her daughter not getting married.

One thing I learned was to rid myself of most of what stresses me out. Get rid of it, learn to handle it, fix it, or simply accept it. Then I have more energy to deal with the serious stresses in my life that I cannot easily walk away from.

I find I am asking myself "Is that really necessary?" (That all the towels match in the bathroom.) Or "So what?" (If the one dirty glass in the kitchen sink doesn't get washed forth with.) Or "What about that really brings me joy?" (Wondering why I thought that night course on Russian History was needed simply because my friends were taking it.)

Looking around I found many tasks I was doing one way simply because I have always done it that way. Instead of dreading the task, there is a simpler way to do it. There were so many little things that I could shed, put away, ignore, say "No" to, or simply accept as not necessary.

And dealing with people who stress me out? I have learned to ask myself, "What about her causes my stomach to hurt at the sound of her voice?" I always try to be polite but keep in mind that no matter who I am dealing with nor how powerful or important they are, worse case scenario - they cannot take away my birthday and, like me, they are human.

Now I am simply left with the major stresses that cannot so easily be done away with. But, like eating an elephant, one bite at a time. 

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