Stressed Out? Can’t Seem to Shake It Off?
You’re Not Alone.
It is said that pressure is standing over a 5-foot putt to win the Masters Golf Tournament when you know you have trained as hard as you can train for this moment. Stress is standing over a 5-foot putt to win the Masters when you know you haven’t trained.
For the non-golfer, pressure is having to make an ‘A’ on a calculus exam when you have studied and know the material inside and out. Stress is having to make an ‘A’ on a calculus exam when you were out with friends all weekend. Okay, enough about sports and academia; how does stress differ from pressure in our daily lives? Below, in multiple choice format, I’ve outlined a few of the things that may have caused stress in your life. See if any of these sound familiar:
a) Air conditioner, drier, and transmission all fail the same week (and it’s mid-July)
b) Child raising – pick a year or decade
c) Paying the mortgage
d) Work, and Co-workers, bosses, employees, & deadlines
e) ALL OF THE ABOVE
If you didn’t choose ‘e’ you either haven’t lived long enough or you’ve been very fortunate! But, for most of us, it can sometimes be a little overwhelming, don’t you think?
Several years ago, there was a time in my life where for 18 months, give or take a month or two, I felt as if I were standing over that 5-foot putt to win the Masters. I was confronted with a serious health condition as well as a business that I had started 20 years earlier that was struggling to stay afloat. Can anything else go wrong? It can! Imagine standing over a putt for 18 months, or studying for a calculus exam for 18 months. That’s how this felt.
During this 18-month period I thought I was stressed out. (Now, don’t get me wrong. I was thankful for the fact that I was still standing. And, I have always been thankful for the successful years I’ve had. It just seemed that no matter what I tried to do to turn things around, everything made things worse). I tried all the normal stress relief activities. You know the gig, I’m sure: exercise, yoga, reading, meditating, praying, walks in nature (well okay that doesn’t count for me since that is my job), but you name it, I tried it.
Stress or Pressure?
Then one day it dawned on me:
I did all these things to relieve stress yet when I laid down to go to sleep at night all of those challenges that were stressing me out were still there.
This isn’t stress after all, I thought, this is pressure. It was pressure to perform the way I knew I could. All the days in life leading up to this period had trained me for this moment. Think about that calculus exam. It’s not just the material on the exam, but it’s a lifetime of studying and practicing math that all play a part in the final performance.
As we all know, sometimes life can be extra challenging. These challenges don’t go away just because we do a 45-minute yoga session. Sure, you may feel better, but the problems, obstacles, and challenges are still there.
When we can understand that our previous life experiences have prepared for these moments, we can put these challenging times into a context of our entire life. And actually, that is what all the stress-relieving activities do for us. They help us to see our challenges in the proper context. Thus, they become something that is very manageable and not so overwhelming.
Stressed? You’ve Got This.
When I had realized that all my struggles and so-called misfortunes in life had prepared me for this moment, albeit an 18-month moment, it totally changed my perspective on the situation I was facing. And as I gained this new perspective, miraculously the stress went away.
Of course, if instead of studying for that calculus exam, you were outside looking at leaves, twigs, and earth worms, maybe, just maybe it’s time to make a life change! You may be stressed! And the pressure is getting to you. See what I did there? 🙂 A blog for another day.
In the meantime, to live a happier life, try looking at the stress points in your life and see if you can put them in the proper context so you too can gain a new perspective and a happier life.
What a game-changer moment in life!
Reader Choice: Choose the happiest/ feel good song you know. I chose “Cheeseburger in Paradise” by Jimmy Buffett. Probably had to do more with the diet I’m on than anything else. Another day and time, I may have chosen something different.
Game Exercise/Life Changer:
While listening to your chosen song, write down a few stress points in your life. Are they going to go away with Yoga or whatever your stress release may be? Now look at these stress points as pressure points that you have been training your whole life for.
“Stress and Pressure. One is perceived, one is real, both come from within.”