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Stress management for dummies

Posted on January 4, 2023 by Taber Times

When’s the last time you had an easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy-stress-free day? Not so recently? Same here. We’re not quite sure how anyone manages these days. For us working schmucks with significant others or families, sometimes we wish we were sidelined with an illness; that would give us a break…until we get sick. Suddenly, not feeling well becomes our go-to complaint. We go from “I hate my stressful life” to “I hate having COVID.” It’s probably fair to say that by and large everyone has a daily burden that makes some portion of their day unpleasant, unwanted, or irritating. However, it would be flat-out wrong to think that all burdens are equally distributed and equally severe. It’s entirely possible that our first-world problems are someone else’s dream come true. It’s hard to imagine, but it’s possible.

Back to the point: Stress. Too much will kill you, and too little will collapse you into a hopeless state of inertia and inaction. It’s a weird thing; the fight or flight survival mechanism that preserves you can also minimize you if it goes unused. It can turn you into a small thinker with tunnel vision. Granted, when you’re busy busting your hump at work, chasing the kids, or trying to make peace with your partner, fixing the car, playing with the kids, shovelling the walk, mowing the lawn, cooking the meals, doing the dishes, getting some exercise…well you get the drift. The point being — IT AIN’T EASY.

The Canadian Mental Health Association says that “stress is the body’s response to a real or perceived threat. That response is meant to get people ready for some kind of action to get them out of danger. But most of the threats people face today aren’t something that they can fight or run away from. These threats are usually problems that people have to work through.” Work through? More work? Who wants that? Again — It ain’t easy.

In the pursuit of getting everything done, some of us become myopic; locomotives barreling toward the light at the end of the tunnel, but the tunnel is long and the light is dim. Unfortunately, that fixed point of view gets us thinking too small in a very large world, and that’s sensible. Survival dictates that we focus on what is absolutely necessary. So, we do exactly that and we survive. There’s a new conundrum these days, one that asks if we’re surviving or thriving. It’s foolish in a way because surviving precedes everything. So, is thriving even a relevant goal? Does it really mean anything? Perhaps it does, but we have to take a multifaceted approach. It requires that each of us answer a couple of questions. First of all, what constitutes thriving for each of us individually? Secondly, nothing’s free after all. Ever.

If your definition of thriving is to succeed at your career, then enjoy your partner, raise your kids honourably, revel in your holidays and remember, this too will cost you. Everything costs us time, money, and energy. Everything is an expenditure. Here lies the frustration. Can we afford our expenditures of time, money, and energy or can we not? So what’s the answer? Well, it’s simple but hard. We simply ask ourselves some questions and then answer them in the most informed way we can at the moment. Questions like: What are my limitations? What fears are holding me back? How can I better care for myself and others? Go ahead and fill in the blanks for yourself. Asking these questions can trigger an uneasy feeling in us. Not asking them is a recipe for unhappiness.

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