The air was crisp as I walked from my car toward the office. It was, I expect, the coldest day of the year so far–Monday morning after the Thanksgiving weekend and my first day back at work after having enjoyed four days off. I realized my steps were lighter; I didn’t feel the same burden that I had been carrying on my shoulders in recent months. Something was different.
A number of years ago, during a difficult time in my life, I attended stress management classes. Much of what I learned at those classes has gone from my memory by now but there is one phrase that comes to my mind every now and then—perhaps because I printed it out and it hung on the wall of my office for a long time.
The key to stress management is learning to relax so you can build your physical and emotional reserves to be able to meet the next challenge.
Over the course of the Thanksgiving weekend I relaxed more than I have in a long time. I didn’t travel anywhere, in fact on Thursday and Friday I didn’t leave my house at all. I spent time catching up on projects, clearing off my desk, rearranging cupboards, and polishing my hardwood floors. I also took a lot of time to do things I enjoy like writing, reading, sewing, and knitting, and I watched more Hallmark movies than I can count (certainly more movies than I’ve watched in the entire year so far). I relaxed.
As I walked toward the office on Monday morning it dawned on me that the reason I was feeling less burdened, and not dreading what was waiting for me in my office, was because I had taken sufficient time to relax over the previous four days. By balancing “must-do” tasks with those activities I take pleasure in—and weighing the time more heavily in favor of the things that bring me pleasure—I found myself in a place of peace and relaxation that carried over into my work week.
The challenge I set before myself early this week was to remember the value of relaxation in the weeks and months ahead. As the stresses come–and come they will (and come they did before the week was half over)–I need to remember the the value of unplugging and the fine art of inhabitation in order to build those physical and emotional reserves.
How do you build your physical and emotional reserves? How you practice stress management?