Stress is a normal part of everyday life. When people say that, I hate it. Stress is either self-created, on purpose, or it is created outside of me, and I must choose a response to it. The stress that I feel before a race is my creation. I choose to race. It can be frightening and rewarding just the same. I have control over this stress. It’s the stuff I have no control over that drives me nuts.
The stress I did not have a hand in creating is what I have trouble with. My stress level is usually contingent on my mental state. When I am doing well, balanced,at peace, and at ease, I can handle a great deal of stress. If I am not doing well, just a little extra stress puts me over the edge. Relief is what I need. We all deal with stress in our lives. If I give it power, stress will be in charge and rule me. It is my choice. My response is what I have control over.
Developing practice on how to handle stress is the key. I won’t be very good at it until I have been successful at handling some easy situations first. Then with some experience I can handle tougher situations. How I deal with traffic is usually a pretty good barometer for me and how I am handling stress in my life. If I have a short fuse and everyone seems to be driving poorly around me, then I must look at myself. Am I being overly sensitive about my surroundings? Am I feeling threatened at every turn? Then I must look at how I am handling my stress. What are the underlying problems in my life? It is not the traffic that is the problem but how am I responding to the traffic. I heard a story about a guy who typically drives a great deal in rush hour traffic. When asked by a friend how he handles all the traffic his response was, “I only drive one car” This reminds me that I only need to control my response to the stress. Traffic is one way I can see how I am handling stress. That is the mirror that I need to look at, to see what is really going on with me, honestly.
So now that I have been able to recognize the stress level, what do I do with it? Usually my stress comes out in anger. Sometimes I bury it and it affects me physically by making me sick (dis-ease). By learning how to deal with my anger I can manage my stress. Physical activity helps with my anger. A long run, chopping down a tree, yoga, meditation, are some examples of physical things I can do to facilitate healing. That is probably why I train so hard. This is a productive and healthy way to deal with my stress. I have also learned ( this was very hard for me) to defuse my anger slowly instead of going from zero to rage. Using my networks of support and getting help for my mental and emotional state, is what works. By knowing I am not alone in my struggles helps as well. After building confidence handling my stress, I can deal with anything that comes my way.
With a lower stress level I rest better, am healthier, recover faster, and am able to train harder.
Sometimes I just need to take the lead from my dog, let go, run, and be happy.