National Stress Awareness Day 2018
Finding the “Sweet Spots” of Life
Have you ever seen the phrase, “Stressed spelled backwards is Desserts”? It is printed, monogrammed or embossed on pillows, plaques, hand towels, T-shirts and just about anything else a crafty-minded person can think of. As with any well known catch phrase, we tend to smile, give a chuckle and keep pressing toward the end of our day. But, is it possible that a deeper meaning lie behind the thought of turning our stress into whipped cream with cherries on top? I think so.
We all know what stress means, without having to google the exact definition, but for a decent perspective, we will say that stress is mental or emotional strain that results from adverse or demanding circumstances. I think that is a pretty accurate definition. Of course, the “demanding circumstances” can have vast differences among each of us. I may experience stress from a demanding family member, whom everyone else adores. You may feel stressed as a caregiver, while another may relax at the thought of caring for another. When one person dreads a long drive, I long for the adventure of a road trip! Burdens in life are our own to bear, and have no generalizations when it comes to comparisons.
Where we all CAN find some common ground, however, is in the “Desserts” portion of said clichéd phrase. (portion-love the use of that word here; how many portions of dessert would you like?) Let’s look at is as finding the sweet spots of life. Well wishing friends may give you advice when they see you with a furrowed brow or notice that you are more frazzled than usual. I see these as things to ignore, you know, the statements meant to suddenly snap you out of all your worries, stress and general funk. “Don’t worry.”- “It will work out, it always does.”- “Worrying won’t make it go away.”- and the ever so loving rebound response of, “Shoot, if you think you have problems, let me tell you about mine.”
The real sweet spots we need to seek out are typically more tangible, just like our favorite taste of cake or ice-cream. Maybe not something we actually touch, but things we can feel to keep our mental health in balance. Let’s make a list.
Aromatherapy gives an enhancement to stale air in your home and work space. A small, fragrant candle, a fragrance plug, a stick of incense, or a sachet can envelope your mind with calmness.
Water. That’s right. Hydration is a key that we overlook when we feel stressed. You don’t necessarily need an expensive bottle of H2O with a golden label. A simple cup a few times a day from the tap is enough to keep your circulation flowing. After all, our bodies are about 60% water and we should strive to keep it replenished.
Plan. Having a plan for each day or the week ahead removes stress almost automatically. Especially if you concentrate on one task at a time and prioritize those tasks in order from easy to most difficult-whatever that may be. Digital planners are excellent, but writing things down seems to alleviate even more tension; plus, it gives you a reason to purchase a cute new planner.
Music! This is my favorite and my own tangible go to stress reliever. How is it tangible? I choose records. The old smell of vinyl and the soothing crackle and soft static of the needle as it begins to turn puts me in a place of peace. Whether it’s a record passed down from long ago for me or an uploaded version for you-music therapy can take your heart through decades of rock-n-roll or precious gospel tunes that make your soul happy.
A Plant or gardening. While gardening provides a mood of equilibrium to thousands, I would suggest that a novice begin with a single plant. As you watch your plant grow, it will give you a sense of accomplishment. While you water your plant and provide sun/light and even pruning as needed, you will begin to see that so much of how we care for a tiny plant is how we should also care for ourselves. This is called mirrored care and reminds us to relax.
There are so many sweet spots are worth identifying! De-cluttering your home/office, taking a brisk walk, exercise (although the mere thought of this one breaks me out in hives), power naps, meditation and prayer, positive affirmation, the list goes on. The point is that we need to be aware of what causes us to be stressed and what causes us to be un-stressed-our DESSERTS! Finding the sweet spots in your life are a part of what makes it all worth it. Cherries on top, please!
Susan McCurry, CHPLN
Susan is a wife of 25 years, a mom of four humans, a mom of 3 dogs and a cat, is a CPR instructor for the American Heart Association, teaches 3 year olds at her church, serves in the full time ministry with her husband and has worked for HCSC for 13 and a half years. She is a lover of chocolate and isn’t stressed at all!