I was telling a friend of mine about my new stress workshops and keynotes and my idea to bring them to local employers for their workforces. I don’t have much time or availability because of my caregiving responsibilities for my wife, but this seemed like an idea that was feasible in spite of the situation.
LAUGHED?? I must say that I was mildly offended. “What’s so funny about that?” I asked him.
“Think about how ridiculous that sounds… you are so stressed because of your wife’s condition and all of the fallout that comes with it. How can you help people with stress??”
I was shocked. I told him, “Yes I am stressed, but I’m still standing and functional. If you were in the situation I’m in you’d be a blithering idiot, and so would just about everyone I know. I’ve learned techniques to manage my stress so that my life is bearable; THAT’s what my programs are about.”
He got very quiet, thought about it, and then agreed with me.
That’s when I realized that he thought that if you have ANY stress you have failed in your attempts to feel better. People engage in exercise, meditation, massages, yoga, and all kinds of other activities designed to reduce stress, but the key word is “reduce.” Not “eliminate” stress, but to reduce it. Make it less. It’s about stress management, not stress elimination.
If you feel that your life is stressful then it is. I highly suggest that you find an activity that works for you as a way of managing that stress, but don’t get all tied up in a knot if you don’t feel 100% better. Nobody has zero stress, it’s not realistic. If that’s the goal you are shooting for then you are going to be frustrated and THAT, my friends, is stressful!
Do yourself a favor and work hard to “manage” your stress, to “minimize” it, to “control” it, but not to eliminate it completely. You might as well decide to walk on the moon. It can’t be done.
Don’t be discouraged, though, because effective stress management will make a world of difference. You will control your stress instead of your stress controlling you. All of the activities I mentioned will help you deal with the stressful situations you face, and that is where the rubber meets the road.
Unrealistic expectations and goals will just frustrate you and add to your stress instead of reduce it.
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