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NIFS Healthy Living Blog

Stress: It All Depends on How Long You Hold It

stress and fitness

Stress is something we all deal with daily. It can come at you in many different forms and intensities, times of the day or year, and places. Stress can be positive or negative. But any way you shake it, it still is stress and it still affects the body.

When my wife had to undergo a major medical procedure, it was a huge stressor  I was sleep deprived, which resulted in even more stress. Cue the dominoes falling! Now that was a pretty substantial, but what about the smaller things that can lead to being “stressed out”?

The Weight of Stress

A psychologist walked around a room while teaching stress management to an audience. As she raised a glass of water, everyone expected they’d be asked the “half-empty or half-full” question. Instead, with a smile on her face, she inquired, “How heavy is this glass of water?”

Answers called out ranged from 8 ounces to 20 ounces.

She replied, “The absolute weight doesn’t matter. It depends on how long I hold it. If I hold it for a minute, it’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, my arm will feel numb and paralyzed. In each case, the weight of the glass doesn’t change, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes.” She continued, “The stresses and worries in life are like that glass of water. Think about them for a while and nothing happens. Think about them a bit longer and they begin to hurt. And if you think about them all day long, you will feel paralyzed―incapable of doing anything.”

The moral of this story: Remember to let go of your stresses and put the glass down!

Identify the Stressor

This concept hits home with me personally because I do tend to carry stress with me well after the stressor is gone. Think of a time when someone cut you off on the highway. Did you rage out? And if so, did you carry that throughout the morning or even the entire day? Who really “won” in that situation? The person who cut you off probably didn’t give it any more thought, whereas you are steamed and remain steamed. This more than likely resulted in a less than enjoyable day.

Through our mental-toughness training, we learn to deal with stress in different ways. I am not here today to give you a comprehensive list of strategies to fill your toolbox to overcome stress. We’ll save that for another time. What I would like to do is encourage you to identify the stressor immediately, and when you do, put the glass down so you can face your day like a Warrior, like a CHAMPION!

Topics: NIFS fitness center stress