The formal definition of “stress” is a specific response by the body to a stimulus, as fear or pain, which disturbs or interferes with the normal physiological equilibrium of an organism. A less formal definition is the importance we attach to something. In either case, stress (if we allow it) can overwhelm us, effectively bringing our daily lives to a standstill. It is important to note, however, that stress is self-imposed. As the definition suggests, it is the importance WE attach to something. In truth, stress only exists in our mind. You can’t go to the store and buy stress! There are no stress factories which manufacture it. The truth is you can’t see it, smell it or touch it. You only imagine it!
Please don’t misunderstand; I am not downplaying the power stress can have on an individual. I am emphasizing the power we have to choose how we respond and the difference that makes. I recently received an email from a dear friend who has been struggling with stress for several years. She wanted to share a technique she had learned that seemed to be helping her cope positively. She placed a rubber band on her wrist as a stimulus for change. She was learning that it was not rational to attach stress to things which were out of her control. Every time she finds herself getting upset or stressed by something, she snaps the rubber band against her wrist as a reminder that she is in control. There was a little pain associated with the snap of the rubber band. However, when she chose to let it go, no pain, and she could move forward. She was learning that, while she cannot control everything that happens to or around her, she can control her response. The bottom line is that she chooses not to become stressed by things she cannot change.
Do you have things in your life, over which you have no control, where you are spending time, energy and emotion stewing over? Things happen. The good news is while you may not be in control of the situation, you are in control of how your mind handles it. Interestingly, if you find yourself stressing over things out of your control and choosing to cope in an unhelpful way, you can “snap” yourself back into reality with something as simple as a rubber band!