What is stress? For some it is trying to prioritise the many projects they have undertaken and making decisions. For others it is moving to another apartment; raising a family; going for a job interview; meeting their future in-laws. Stress is knowing that the deadline for an article is fast approaching and you just can’t seem to find the time to sit down and write it. Stress is having to wait another 15 minutes for a bus because the first driver did not stop even though he saw you dashing across the street, your arms flailing.
Then there is good stress like having a child; getting married or getting that promotion you always wanted. These are stressful because they are big chances. For each there are greater responsibilities and a lot of adjustments to make.
Stress can result from an overactive imagination. Take Susan for example. She invited her boyfriend for lunch for the first time. She worried that she wouldn’t get home from church in time to prepare the meal. She worried that he wouldn’t get a parking space. She worried that he wouldn’t be able to eat chicken or turkey because she wasn’t sure if he was a vegetarian. She worried that she would be so nervous that she would spill or break something. Well, her boyfriend got a parking space as soon as he arrived. Not only did he eat the chicken and the turkey but he had seconds. Lunch went very well. The only setback was that it was not long enough. Susan had allowed herself to get stressed out because she imagined the worst. Stress robs us of a peace of mind and rest.
Many of us have spent sleepless nights because of stress. We lie awake worrying about that presentation we have to make to very important clients; a job interview or final exams. A lot of times stress is self-induced. We worry and fret unnecessarily and only succeed in giving ourselves high blood pressure.
How do we cope with stress? Taking time out is always a good idea and doing something else such as going for walks in the neighbourhood or in the park. Around this time of year it is especially nice because of the changing colours of the leaves and the air is fresh. Fresh air helps to clear the mind. Exercise is another option. Walk off the stress on the treadmill or pump it out of your system as you lift weights. Read a book or flip through a magazine. Pick up the phone and call a friend. It helps to talk to someone.