We often hear how to reduce, eliminate, cure and fight stress. In fact, National Stress Awareness Month aims to increase public awareness about this important issue.
But being completely stress-free is unattainable, and conflict can worsen stress.
Should we give stress a hug?
No, but we could take it as a sign to be kinder to ourselves. Go ahead and be a few minutes late. Order take-out tonight instead of cooking dinner. Get a full six or seven or eight hours of sleep.
When we notice others grappling with stress, being kind can help them in ways we probably won’t even realize. Listen while they blurt out what’s on their mind. Say something encouraging.
Everybody experiences stress, and whether it’s as big or as difficult as what you’re going through doesn’t matter. You may never know their whole story, and you don’t necessarily need to, but just know that they’re living life and experiencing its ups and downs and in-betweens, too. To them, whatever they’re going through is huge.
A few weeks ago, as I helped my son adjust his swim goggles before getting into the pool for his Saturday morning class, I said, “It’s early.”
The swim instructor scoffed at the idea of 10 a.m. being early on a Saturday. I listened as she listed what she had accomplished so far that day without being prompted.
I was groggy from staying up late to work the night before, and I also didn’t want to start a battle about who has the most stress. Nobody wants that type of trophy. I silently nodded and listened instead. It seemed like she needed someone to hear what she was saying, and I’m glad I could be there for her.
Yesterday, we chatted briefly on the phone and she mentioned that her husband is ill and they travel regularly for medical treatment.
The Saturday morning list she blurted out weeks ago seemed trivial in comparison, but I was grateful that I could be there for her in that small way when she needed it.
The next time you’re having an insane day, go easy on yourself. The next time you notice someone else having an insane day, consider cutting them a little slack, too.