Once upon a time, I presented workshops on Stress and how to manage it. At the time, I was winding down my teaching career and entering into the counseling portion of my life. My stress workshops were an outgrowth of my teaching at a technical college on business and leadership, and I have to say I miss teaching still today. I miss counseling even more.
To a degree, each of us faces stress. For instance, a batter in baseball approaches the plate and there is a certain amount of stress he feels, should feel, as he faces the pitcher. After all, his team and his manager expect him to get on base. Now, add a runner or two on base, add an out or two, and add in the scoreboard indicating that the batter’s team is behind by one run in the bottom of the ninth. The stress is amplified quite a bit from one scenario to the other.
I may have written this once in the past, but folks, I’m not a very good basketball player. Yes, I could coach the game, but I give credit to the players much more so than any coaching I did. I had wonderful, coachable players, and I think I was more of a motivator than anything else. But I remember as an eighth grader standing at the free throw line in the closing minutes of a very close game. A nail-biter, as they might say. Pressure was on. I felt stress. I still feel it today, many years later. I missed. It clanked off the rim and fell into the wrong team’s hands. I couldn’t tell you if we won or lost that game, I truly don’t remember, but I can tell you the result of that free throw.
As I said, each of us feels stress. Some of it we place on ourselves, while some of it is given to us. Some stress is healthy: a baseball player, a NASCAR driver, someone headed into a room for an interview for a job or promotion. That kind of stress comes and goes and sharpens our senses and our reflexes while it is present, and then we can relax and move on.
But then there is a different kind of stress.
Recently, I found a very short video on Facebook. A psychologist had a glass of water, and some of the students wondered if she would ask the question, “Is the glass half-full or half-empty.” She didn’t.
Rather, she asked, “How heavy do you think this glass of water is?” There were guesses ranging from several grams to many grams. What she said was that, “The weight of the glass doesn’t really matter. It’s how long I hold it that matters.”
She went on to explain that if she held it for a minute or two, there wouldn’t be any problem. If she held it for an hour, her hand and arm might cramp up. If she held it for a day, her arm would feel like it was paralyzed. The weight of the glass didn’t matter, but the length of time she held it did.
She stated that stress and anxiety are like a glass of water. If we hold on to it for a short time, nothing happens. If we hold on to it for a long time, we start to cramp up- emotionally, perhaps physically. And if we hold on to it all day, we feel paralyzed and are unable to think or to act.
It isn’t healthy for us to Hold On To Stress. It hurts us and it hurts our relationships with others. We begin to question ourselves, our actions, our decisions. Self-doubt creeps in where once there was none.
It’s best to let it go. Seek out a trusted friend, an ear to listen, a hand to hold, a shoulder to lean on. And where possible, we can be that trusted friend, the ear for listening, a hand for holding, and the shoulder for leaning. Something to think about . . .
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To My Readers:
I was asked to write a guest post for the blog, Thriller-Writer by Eric Gates. I chose to write on character development and if interested, it can be found at: http://bit.ly/1XwLVZ1
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