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This story has been going around on Facebook lately and I think it’s pretty awesome…

glassA 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 oz. to 20 oz.

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.”

It’s important to remember to let go of your stresses. As early in the evening as you can, put all your burdens down. Don’t carry them through the evening and into the night. Remember to put the glass down!

This story is a great “first step” for us. We all have stresses and worries and the biggest hurdle is recognizing this and then as the psychologist says, “Put the glass down!” However, how do we actually do that? It’s easy to say, “Just stop worrying” or “Forget about your stress for awhile” or “Don’t think about it,” but I reality that is harder said than done.

Here’s some concrete steps to get rid of stress:

1. Know your stress: The first thing we need to do is identify that we are stressed out. Lots of times in our life we don’t even know we’re stressed about something! How many times have you been “in a mood” and snapping at people or not acting like yourself, and someone calls you on it. “What are so stressed about?” If you’re like me then you say “nothing” 4 or 5 times while your friend looks incredulously on and continues to ask the question. Finally it hits… I am stressed out about something.

2. Identify the root problem: Try using the 5 Whys

3. Make a short term plan to alleviate stress: A short term plan is something that you can do immediately to fix the stress. Oftentimes it has to do with the specific stressor in your life. For example, if you discover that you are stressed out because you had a big presentation, you’re not sure how your boss liked it and you’re waiting on pins and needles for them to tell you then the stress reliever could be to get up, walk into their office and ask them. Problem solved.

4. Make a long term plan to alleviate stress: Certain people get more stressed out than others. This can obviously be due to personality types, but there are ways that you can make yourself less dominated by the stress in your life.

First, realize that stress has both an emotional and a physical component. You can help to get rid of the physical stress by doing things like eating healthy, exercising regularly, stretching, walking, or anything that will get you physically moving. Try also activities that require fine motor skills combined with brainpower (preferably something you do that is different than work). Example would be painting, drawing, playing a musical instrument, writing or reading for pleasure.

Secondly, realize that stress is emotional. Engage in activities that will relax you emotionally. Meditation or prayer are wonderful examples for this.

5. Realize that stress is a “selfish” act. We are thinking and worrying about ourselves, our feelings, our life, our work, our relationships, etc. One of the ways we can alleviate this stress is to think about other people instead. In serving others and giving back to our community we will oftentimes be able to look outside of our problems and realize that they aren’t as important as we thought they were in the grand scheme of things.
Shane Guymon has a got a great write up on this at his blog.

6. Make a plan: Stress comes regularly and so too should our methods of coping with it. Let’s not wait until we’re totally keyed up to make the plan…do it now!

What are some things that you do to get stress out of your life and “put the glass down?”

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