Once upon a time, a psychology professor walked around on a stage while teaching stress management principles to an auditorium filled with students. As she raised a glass of water, everyone expected they would be asked the typical “glass half empty or glass half full” question. Instead, with a smile on her face, the professor asked, “How heavy is this glass of water I’m holding?”
The students shouted out various answers.
She replied, “From my perspective, the absolute weight of this glass doesn’t matter. It all depends on how long I hold it. If I hold it for a minute or two, it’s fairly light. If I hold it for an hour straight, its weight might make my arm ache a little. If I hold it for a day straight, my arm will likely cramp up and feel completely numb and paralyzed, forcing me to drop the glass to the floor. In each case, the weight of the glass doesn’t change, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it feels to me.”
As the class shook their heads in agreement, she continued, “Your stresses and worries in life are very much like this glass of water. Think about them for a while and nothing happens. Think about them a bit longer and you begin to ache a little. Think about them all day long, and you will feel completely numb and paralyzed – incapable of doing anything else until you drop them.”
Like in the above story, people generally hold on to their stress not for hours, not for days, not for months but years at a stretch … sometimes, it could even last for a lifetime if you are not careful.
Now, why is it that people generally give so much prominence to stress in their lives? Of course, it’s not willingly but unknowingly!
You might not even be aware that its slowly eating your peace of mind. That’s how it generally works.
There are numerous reasons which does result in you accumulating stress. Here are some of them …
You Are Incapable Of Managing The Situation
A tough challenge comes up and the immediate response before you even think about the issue in hand is getting stressed out. Have you a faced a similar situation?
A chain of reactions generally leads to this situation … Let’s try to apply the 5 WHY technique here to get to the root cause of one of the most common situations we do face on a daily basis …
A sharp deadline is thrown at you and the panic button is pressed in your mind. WHY?
The enormity of the situation has got onto you and your logical thinking part shuts down. Now, WHY did this happen?
Your mind has been tuned over the years to react in this manner to challenging situations. Now, WHY is your mind like that?
The reason for this could possibly but not always be in your upbringing and the environment you grew in. The influence of people close to you is bound to be there. This may be true but WHY is it that it’s still not taken care of?
It could possibly be that the issue is being tackled only at the conscious level. The trick is to fine-tune your subconscious mind and make it strong enough to deal with stress effectively. Now, WHY did I not know about it earlier?
The awareness of the power of the subconscious mind has been there since several years but working on it and making people’s lives easier has been doing the rounds only in recent years, especially in India. Consider yourself lucky that you have the chance to make the maximum use of it unlike people in your parent’s generation and those before that.
This brilliant video by Madhumita Murgia shows the effect stress has on our brain.
A Parallel Thought Process Is Taking Place On A Consistent Basis
Someone hurts you deeply. You get angry, frustrated and feel like giving it right back. But, can you do it? It’s not about the ability to give it back but the intention that you do not want to spoil the environment.
Well … the intention is really good but parallelly something else happens. You end up accumulating stress and hurt yourself more.
Step back and see … is it required? Is this parallel self-damaging thought process required? No … right? Just dump it!
Understand that they are two ways in which people hurt others – one is unknowingly and the other, intentionally.
When it’s done unknowingly, it will come to light eventually. The ones who did hurt you will let you know that they realized their mistake. It’s bound to happen.
However, the issue is when people hurt you intentionally. You can surely observe a pattern in their behaviour. It will be repeated time and again to hurt you even more deeply and you will end up getting frustrated.
You cannot do much about the other person or group of people out there. You can only learn to manage your own parallel thought process better and not waste time getting hurt. Yes … you do not have a hundred years at your disposal that you can easily waste a sizable chunk of it thinking about how the other person hurt you, why he/she is doing it, why does he/she hate you and want to make you unhappy and so on …. Please stop that thought process if you really respect yourself! Sounds harsh? Yes … but it’s required because you have very less time in which you need to work on your own future and focus on helping those who have genuinely put in their blood, sweat and tears to bring you to a stage where you are.
Focus on that instead of getting stressed out for unwanted reasons and people. It will do you a world of good.
You Do Not Know How To Channelize Your Stress
If you think that you need to work on your stress and get rid of it altogether, you cannot be more wrong than this. A medium level of stress is actually essential to make progress in life else there will be a tendency to become complacent which is actually even more dangerous.
The trick here is getting stressed for the right purpose at the right level so that the outcome is positive and helps you make progress. Work on it! You will eventually appreciate yourself for taking such a bold step.
When you channelize your stress for tasks/actions which really matter in the long run, you will end up spending your energy and time for the same. The medium level of stress actually motivates you to get things done faster. Your enthusiasm will be at an all-time high and the results? Phenomenal …
Now, it’s not enough just reading about Stress Management. You will get a lot of information about the same from medical experts, researchers, coaches and so on …
Choose whatever you feel you can do …The more important point is to apply it and bring about a marked change in your reaction to stressful situations.
· Take a paper and pen.
· Note down the negative and positive stresses in your life. See if the negative ones can be turned into something positive. If not, drop them!
· Work on the positive stress factors.
· Take the required action steps.
· Keep eliminating excuses which prevent you from taking action steps.
· Repeat the cycle as and when you feel it’s required
Check your status after a month, 2 months, 6 months and so on… You will be thrilled to see an emotionally healthier and happier YOU than before!
This article by Satish Rao provides more insights into Stress Management Practices.
Remember that the Good, Bad and Ugly will always accompany us in life wherever we go. The trick is to choose only the Good, learn from the Bad and let go of the Ugly!
It’s All In Your Own Hands!
Wishing You A Stress-Managed Life Ahead!
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Authored By Sushma Krishnan
Co-Founder, High Performance Alchemy