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Monday, May 23, 2011

The Stress Monster!

Ask Anything by Dennis Gaskill


Question: Stress is, well, stressing me out! How do you deal with it?

Answer: I don't really let things get to me much. I just focus on what I can control and leave the rest up to the powers that be. I went through some very stressful times when I was young, and my sister Judi once told me to remember, "This too will pass." That seems to work for me.

I read a story long ago that might help. I can't remember who wrote it so I'm unable give credit to the author, and at best I can only relate it in my own words because I don't remember the author's words, only the point of the story. So with apologies to the author...

A speaker held a glass of water straight out in front of him at arm's length and asked his audience what they thought the glass of water weighed. After a few guesses, the speaker said it didn't matter what the glass of water weighed, what mattered was what he did with it.

He said if he held it out in front of him for a minute and put it down, no problems would occur. If he held it out for 15 minutes his arm would get very tired and probably start cramping up. If he held it out as long as he could bear his arm would become very sore and the pain would probably last a day or two.

Stress is like that glass, he explained. It can be tolerated easily by most people for a while, but the longer we hold onto that stress without relaxing the worse its effects will be on us.

I guess the moral of the story is that you need to find ways to relieve the stress, even if only temporarily. Finding ways to relax is probably the most often recommended stress reducer.

What do you like to do that relaxes you? For me, it's a walk in the woods, a country drive, or thinking about people I love or about spiritual matters.

Even just sitting with your eyes closed, taking a few deep breaths, and thinking of all the things you have to thankful for is a good stress reducing exercise. Some people meditate, others visualize themselves in a dream situation or mentally relive fond memories, and yet others find prayer particularly effective.

Playing calming, soothing music or nature sounds works for many people. Stretching, yoga, or exercise works for others. Doing something creative such as drawing or painting (even a paint by numbers picture) is another avenue that works for many. Others just need a sympathetic ear to bend.

There are many more ways to reduce stress than I can possibly list. The point is, we need to find ways take our mind off of the stressor. What works for one person may not work for you, so you need to find your own path to stress relief. Assuming the source of stress isn't something that can be eliminated, the task then becomes finding your own calm in the storm.

It's when we endure stress too long without finding moments of relief that both mental and physical problems can occur. We just can't hold that glass of water out in front of us indefinitely.

Dennis Gaskill (BoogieJack) writes books about web design and has a Great newsletter that includes many helpful hints on optimizing your website and your mind.

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