“You can choose what to be angry about, and what not to be angry about”, courtesy of my dermatologist.
Sometimes, you think you are a calm person. You think you are above it all, the anxiety, the anger, the pressure. You think you are coping just fine. But in fact, your body is screaming at you. It is screaming what you refuse to acknowledge. Because the truth is, our body knows us better than we do. I don’t have a medical degree, nor do I have the right to tell you to listen to your body (simply because I do not myself) but I have the right to talk about stress management and reflect upon what we do to ourselves on a daily basis.
I have been on holiday for the past week, spending time with my family and my piano. Those of you who know me a little, know my opinion on the hectic life we lead and the necessity to catch a break. But is “catching a break” enough when the rest of our time is spent dwelling on issues beyond our control? I think not. Stress has about a billion triggers. In fact, I think I have the best metaphor to define it (you thought I would write a post without a metaphor?) :
Stress is like a minefield. It is a flat terrain, deceptively flat. And below the surface is where the triggers hide.
All you have to do is walk, right? But we all know what happens in a minefield. Films and books have taught us to tread carefully. They have taught us to prod a stick ahead of us and analyse every inch of the ground before we take one step further. Now, I am not sure the stick idea would keep us from an explosion, but the analysing part is most certainly an idea we can borrow when dealing with stress.
Ask me what stresses me out. I’ll enumerate a list and you will probably nod and relate to at least half of it. Ask me why it stresses me out. The most common reason (among the many more it could be) will be because I can’t do anything about it. If I sat down, and reflected – really reflected upon my list – I would probably find that a good part of it is beyond my control. That part should disappear off your “stress triggers” list. It doesn’t belong there. You can’t get the bus to hurry, the crowd to move faster or the clock to move slower. You can’t hold sway of what people think of you, it is not your place and shouldn’t be taking up your precious time – the one you should spend with those you don’t have to convince or change for.
The remaining part is what you should focus all your attention on. All your strength. Because the remaining part is the only part you can influence. Don’t have enough money? Work harder, send more CVs, lower your spendings, set yourself a goal to save for and pin it on the wall before your desk. Don’t like your writing? Keep writing, read helpful books, ask a friend for advice and above all, keep writing. This is turning into a motivational speech, so I’ll say just this: stress isn’t worth it. Your body doesn’t like it, your brain doesn’t like it, your future doesn’t like it. Now go make that list and I’ll go make my own.