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59. Why Are You So Stressed?
As difficult as it may be to accept, the answer is less about what's happening "out there" and more about what's happening "in here".
☕️ the main thing
If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself but to your own estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment.
— Marcus Aurelius
This may be hard to accept.
But the reality is, it’s not what’s happening out there that is the source of our stress.
Rather, it’s how we are reacting to it.
It’s not the boss or the neighbor. It’s not whatever our spouse or kids are doing or not doing. It’s not what our parents are saying. Not the traffic. Not the travel delays. Not the clients or our colleagues. Not what the doctor just said. Not what the newspaper headlines scream.
It’s how we view the situations in relation to our circumstances.
It’s the meaning and importance that we give them.
It’s the misguided idea that we can control what we clearly cannot.
It’s the wishful thinking that things will unfold the way we want them to.
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. — Serenity Prayer
When I understood what stress does to the body and mental health, it was a wake-up call.
It wasn’t just about how I handled stress (which needed some work). It was also about minimizing the stress that I ALLOWED into my life to begin with.
Of course, no matter our boundaries, we cannot remove stressors 100% from our lives. That’s why we must help ourselves. We must create personal stress relief practices to get us through the day.
Personal leadership is taking responsibility for all aspects of our lives and leading them in the best direction for us.
If the negative physical ramifications of stress are not enough to persuade us to get a better handle on stress, perhaps something else would.
I often ask myself, “What kind of person do I want to be in this situation?”
At the height of the most frustrating situations, I find that question to be centering. It’s a jolt to my system. A blaring reminder of the kind of person I want to see in the mirror at the end of the day.
Faced with that question, I cannot remember ever responding by upping the stress factor. Always, my response is to want to ratchet down the inner monologue and calm my system down — not always successfully, but it’s always the intent.
🔗 building on this
Newsflash: Stress IS contagious. “Observing another person in a stressful situation can be enough to make our own bodies release the stress hormone cortisol.” Your Stress Is My Stress
“In order to make good decisions, we need a calm frame of mind so that we can pause and reflect, rather than behaving merely reactively.” Five Ways To Be Calm — And Why It Matters
Audio: Stress Relief 101 | Second Breaks. Resilience consultant, Shulamit Ber Levtov, joined me back in October 2021 to talk about stress relief principles. We also talked about acute vs chronic stress, and what these do to our body. Pay attention!
📣 hear hear
“In every situation, life is asking us a question, and our actions are the answer.” — Ryan Holiday, The Obstacle is the Way
Today’s issue is sponsored by Midlife Uprising. Founded and hosted by age agitator Yvonne Marchese, this community brings together women of all ages to reimagine what’s possible as they grow older and support each other as they rock their next chapters. Find out more and join the Midlife Uprising Community and continue to make waves as you age.
👤 a midlifer in profile
Paula is a mother to two amazing sons and a wonderful daughter-in-law. Described by her friends as generous, curious, and courageous, Paula is happiest when she’s discovering new and interesting people and places. She loves to bike and hike, holiday cooking for family and friends, and craves impromptu trips. Paula’s adventures include living in Europe, hiking in Iceland, parasailing, and once, she walked down the ‘red carpet’!
Read the rest of Paula’s profile.
🙃 say what?
MIT Technology Review reports first babies conceived with sperm-injecting robots have been born. What has been to date, a job for trained embryologists to delicately handle sperm and eggs using ultra-thin hollow needles under a microscope, technology has now advanced far enough such that engineers “with no real experience in fertility medicine” can use a Sony PlayStation 5 controller to position a robotic needle and complete the process.
💬 last word
Throughout most of my life, I wore my “ability to take on stress like a pro” as a badge of honor. Of course, my body had been screaming all that time. I used to get stress hives all over my face, neck, and arms — which I ignored and made a joke of. 😫
Not anymore. I learned my lesson. Our body tells us when it’s overflowing with cortisol. If we choose to ignore it, well, it’s done everything it could to sound the alarm. 😊
How are you minimizing and managing your stress?
Here’s to a calm and easeful week ahead.
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