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?
Linda, this is such an important post. I realized I’m tense even on vacation! Now that’s ridiculous. Must learn to really relax and let go.
Relaxation is so important to our physical and emotional health, Karen. Why is it so hard for many of us to do, I wonder? Hope you find some relaxation.
This is such a timely post. I think I’ll share it on FB. Thank you Linda!
Thanks for stopping by and thanks for the share, Carmen!
Remaining in the moment is a discipline I practice intentionally. I’ve also grown very fond of reminding myself: “It is what it is.” – – as a way of accepting reality instead of fussing over what was or isn’t. I also know a good sense of humor has a way taking the sting out of most stressors.
So glad you had both space & time to mine the treasure of relaxation.
I use “it is what it is” too Kathleen. Indeed to work on cultivating that good sense of humor though. I like how you refer to the discipline of living in the moment because it is a discipline, isn’t it?
Dear Linda, I can’t let myself become too stressed because of Meniere’s disease. Stress can bring on an acute rotational vertigo episode. So I’ve learned to say no to friends and event and leaving the house, etc., when I know that my body needs rest. I leave family gatherings after about two hours because the stress of trying to hear when I’m almost totally deaf in my left ear (Meniere’s) is overwhelming and so I come home and nap. I”ve also learned to simply let go and be. Peace.
It’s so important for us to learn to listen to what our bodies are telling us, isn’t it, Dee. Sounds like you’ve learned what many of us still struggle with. And I agree…letting go and letting things be is the best way of dealing with the stresses of life there is.
Linda, I’m catching up on my reading from the past 2-3 weeks. We’ve been away from home and the circumstances of our travel didn’t allow much reading time. So, I’ve been moving things in my inbox to a “read later” folder. Anyway, this post is really helpful to me as we’ve been moving through a stressful year, and for a variety of reasons it remains so. Thanks for the reminder about how good it is for us to relax and remove the stress from our lives.