“Let’s write about what causes us stress/anxiety and the tools we use to overcome it”…she says: as we’re wondering what this week’s group topic is going to be. Thanks Gaia, I was perfectly comfortable sitting at my computer rummaging through philosophy quotes looking for some gold to post on twitter. Like This.
Because of this prompt, I now realize among other things that what causes me stress are thoughts about what causes me stress. However, the truth of the matter is that I like stress; it makes me feel alive. Obviously there are times when I’m caught up in it and wish I could be anywhere else, doing anything else, but when all is said and done, every experience is just another thread sewn into the fabric of the puny little quilts that we call life (I think I need to back off the existentialism for a bit). But there are different kinds of stress, and some situations call for more than a balancing act of the circumstances that we think are in our control. Some situations force us to admit that we have NO control! (maybe I need to back off the determinism for a bit too?) For situations like this I offer a little anecdote.
I wasn’t yet even a carrot seed in my mother’s garden, and while manure makes for great fertilizer, no one likes getting caught in a shit storm. My mom was twenty-one, in nursing school and just gave birth to her first child (My oldest sister…Hi Aim!!!). My dad also twenty-one just suffered a brain aneurysm, was in a coma, and no one was sure if he would survive, let alone walk again or talk again. The money was gone, there wasn’t even enough to buy food, and eviction seemed inevitable. In other words stress…Stress…STRESS!
With little hope, my mom turned to a couple friends, a nun (Sister Regina) and a priest (Father Curtain). As she started to confide the truth about how dire her situation had become she lost it and just started bawling. Immediately Father Curtain started collecting food from the church pantry, and money from the emergency fund, running around doing everything he could to help ease the situation and lighten the load. Sister Regina stayed next to my mom and just held her as she cried. Not knowing if her husband would survive or if her newborn would have a place to call home, Sister Regina just held her, and let her cry.
Now the way my mom tells it, that’s the day she learned the difference between doing for someone (Father Curtain) and being for someone (Sister Regina). Some situations force us to admit that we have NO control. And when STRESS reaches this magnitude, it helps to remember despite what we may think, we’re not alone¹ and sometimes just that one single thought can help me get from one situation to the next. (Or perhaps I just need to back off the optimism as well)
¹My mom went on to finish her degree and after 40 years of nursing, she has recently decided to hang up her stethoscope for the last time. Congrats Sunya on an unbelievable career!
As I thought of giving the crew the task to share with you the ways we cope with this silly little thing called stress, I asked to myself: “Myself, do I even have one?”
The pace of life keeps speeding up and this condition shapes the way we interact with it. As I am sure many of you have heard and experienced, there seems to be less and less hours in a day. Not enough hours of sleep, not enough hours to get ready for work, to finish that project, to study, to spend with our kids, to cook¹…Our lifestyle begs for convenience; however, is this the true solution? I am currently spending the summer in Miami and I have noticed so many motorized scooters. People no longer walk places because they have this new and convenient method of transportation. As much as I would love to cave in to easy travel, I would be eliminating one of my stress relieving tools: Walking.
It took me forever to come up with this stress relieving tool, I must confess… But of course! I live in Texas, we don’t walk, we drive places! I have been so stressed with my fast paced life that I have overlooked this essential tool because… OF COURSE! I am guilty- as I know many of you are as well-, of turning my hectic routine into my new normal. As a result, I have forgotten to walk, to breathe, to meditate, to spend quality time with my son, and to focus on myself.
As much as the 24 hour deadline is pressing on you, do not forget to breathe, to walk, to connect with yourself and your surroundings. Let the “time” adapt to you, not the other way around.
¹For some reason there are enough to binge on Netflix though! *insert awkward emoji*
Just like a steel sample undergoing tensile testing, I never cease to be asked how stressed I am and how I manage it…so, in a nutshell, here’s why I high-clip:
I’m pretty easy going (and by that I mean REALLY relaxed nearly 100% of the time), and I’m not a worrier or an anxious person by any means. However, I don’t like constraints. Anything that has a time deadline, requires a select group of tools, limited research, etc. can stress me out. Even though I hate being thrown in boxes like these, I’m really good at getting out of them. In terms of climbing, this is how it goes:
There’s always an initial oh YIKES this route is run out what did I do why am I here is this the end why do I do this to myself if I make it out I’m never climbing again yikes oh yikes I’m scared, but then after a deep breath, it’s totally fine. The reality is, maybe I’m in a bad situation and maybe my stress isn’t illogical or unreasonable, but it doesn’t really matter because I’m in it anyway. All I can do is believe that I can get out, and any other sentiment is useless. So when I’m at anchors and I’m thinking oh no if these bolts fail I’m literally so toast I’ll have no future I’ll never get to see ___ or do ___ man if I mess up this rappel it’ll be my fault too oh no oh no, I also take a second to chill out and rationalize what’s going on. Yes, things can go wrong, but the reality is that I’m at the top of a climb and I’m not downclimbing, so I have no other choice. As long as I’m redundant and do what I know, I’ll be fine. I assess my situation and carefully set up my rappel, with confidence, one step at a time.
I make it to the ground safely because I do what I know how to do. If I’ve proven anything to myself, it’s that I can get out of any situation because I have knowledge and I know how to use it. So, yes, I might have a few panicky thoughts every now and then, but I have trust and confidence in my abilities, and that’s all I need. When it comes down to it, only you can manage your stress, and it can smite you or you can smite it, so you might as well trust that you can win because believing anything else isn’t productive.
Stay safe out there and believe in yourselves, because what’s the advantage believing otherwise?
What types of things do you do to help relieve stress?