The weight of stress

My friend Beth (love that name) sent me an email the other day that presented a new twist on an old subject. Here’s an edited version:

A young lady walked around a room holding a glass of water while explaining stress management to an audience. Everyone knew she was going to ask the inevitable question, “Half empty or half full?”

But she fooled them all. “How heavy is this glass of water?” she inquired with a smile.

Answers were called out, ranging from 8 oz. to 20 oz.

“The weight doesn’t matter,” she replied. “It depends how long I hold the glass. If I hold it for a minute, that’s not a problem. If I hold it for an hour, I’ll have an ache in my arm. If I hold it for a day, you’ll have to call an ambulance. In each case it’s the same weight, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes. And that’s the way it is with stress. If we carry our burdens all the time, sooner or later, as the burden becomes increasingly heavy, we won’t be able to carry on.”

As with the glass of water, you have to put it down for a while and rest before picking it up again. When we’re refreshed, we can carry our burdens a little longer and a little better. So whatever burdens you’re carrying now, let them down for a moment. Relax, and pick them up again later, after you’ve rested.

I thought the concept was fascinating. Anything gets heavy if you carry it long enough. The secret is to stop carrying it – or at least lay it down for a while. A friend with a high-powered job told me that on her way home from work every evening, she’d pick a mailbox and mentally stash her work worries in it. Then the next morning when she drove past, she’d “pick up” those worries and take them back to work, where they belonged.

At a concert years ago, Kenny Chesney implored the audience: “We all have problems. For the next couple of hours, can you just forget them and enjoy the show? They’ll be there when we get done.” And he was right.

So today, lay down your burdens for a little while. Take a couple of hours off and do something besides worry. Who knows – when you return to retrieve them, they might be a lot smaller – or lighter. Or at the least, you’ll be rested and ready to carry them again.

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One Response to The weight of stress

  1. Brancy says:

    Just brilliant! I learned to do this after Brian died out of sheer survival but never came up with such an apt way of describing it to others. I have just called it the Scarlett syndrome “I’ll think about it tomorrow…”

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