Picture for a moment a camel trudging along in the desert. The sun is beating down on his back, and each step the camel takes is made practically silent by the loose sand the camel is walking through. He has a steady pace and looks as if he could maintain that pace for days.
Next, you notice the man leading the camel. He looks weary and hot. The man isn’t alone, but is accompanied by what appears to be his family. His young son catches your eye, because he’s moving more slowly than the rest of the group. As you continue to watch, his steps become increasingly more unsteady until the man brings the camel to a halt. He puts his young son on the camel’s back, and they continue on their way. You notice the camel is still walking steadily, even with his added burden.
As they continue on their way, the wife begins to slow and eventually stumbles. The man stops and helps her onto the camel as well. The camel is moving a little slower as they continue on their way.
Next, the other son is also put on the camel. The camel continues to walk along, even though he is obviously moving more slowly.
You soon notice that the man is looking more and more agitated. You overhear the man talking and it’s clear that he is determined to reach their destination as quickly as possible, but the camel is moving too slow for his liking. He tugs on the lead rope, urging the camel to move faster. They continue like this for hours, with the man pushing the camel to move more quickly. The man tells the camel, “What’s wrong with you? You normally move much faster than this.” So, the camel picks up the pace because he would hate to disappoint the man.
As they are nearing their destination, the camel suddenly collapses. He can’t take another step. He’s exhausted and his muscles are no longer working. The camel must rest before he can continue. The man is angry, calling the camel weak and inferior, but he has no choice other than to wait until the camel has recovered.
So he waits. . .and waits. It takes the camel hours to finally get up, and hours more before he can carry any burden. Even then, he can only carry the smallest son.
Many times, this is how we treat ourselves.
If this man had stopped along the way for a break, to give the camel a moment to be unburdened, the camel would not have collapsed. They would have reached their destination more quickly because they wouldn’t have needed to wait hours for the camel to recover.
You Are A Go-Getter
You have achieved many things, and generally you accomplish any goal you go after. There have been a few times, though, where you have crashed and burned. You kept pushing and pushing until you found yourself burnt out. You had achieved a lot in a short amount of time, but once you crashed and burned, the road to beginning again was long and full of obstacles.
You aren’t alone. Many of us do it to ourselves way too often. When taking on a big goal, or even many small goals, we have to remember important things like taking a break, de-stressing, and refueling.
Knowing When to De-Stress
While most of us have tried and true methods that allow us to de-stress, often times we wait too long. We haven’t learned to recognize the signs that it’s time to hit pause. It’s important to know when it’s time to hit pause, take some time to de-stress and rejuvenate. What are a few signs that it’s time?
- Everything feels like a chore.
- You’re no longer energized.
- You’re missing that excited energy when you think about your new challenge.
- You can’t seem to focus on the task at hand, something you’re typically very good at doing.
- You have to talk yourself into it. Whether you work from home, from a corner office, or somewhere in between, if you find that you need to talk yourself into beginning your work day, there’s a problem.
- If one more thing goes wrong, you’re afraid you might implode.
Pay attention to your instincts and I bet you’ll know before it gets to the implosion stage when it’s time to rest.
How to De-Stress
There are many things you can implement into your daily life to help reduce stress in your life. You don’t have to plan a four-day getaway to a tropical island to unwind and de-stress. Of course, if a four-day getaway to someplace exotic fits your life, then by all means, go for it! Otherwise, here are a few tips for daily stress management.
Meditate. Taking a few moments out of your morning to sit peacefully and clear your mind can set the tone for the entire day. It will help you face each stressor with a calm, clear head.
Exercise. Not only does exercise release endorphins that are natural anxiety cures, but the act of setting time aside to do something you know is good for you and your body is affirming to yourself that you are important and that your overall well-being is a priority.
Connect. Talking with and connecting to others also releases good endorphins that allow us to relax. In addition, that sense of connection will remind you that you’re not alone and you can share your burden. Think about that camel. Imagine there had been two camels to share the burden.
Just say no. Learn how to say no to additional commitments that would encroach on time that you are using to relax and refuel.
Ditch the guilt. You might be feeling guilty about going to the gym instead of finishing that last task at the office. You might feel guilty about that fabulous four-day weekend you’re planning. Whatever it is you’re feeling guilty about, it’s time to let go of that guilt. You have to de-stress to be at your best. Period.
Quit comparing. Stop comparing yourself and your situation to others. Everyone handles everything differently. No two people are identical. You may need that four-day weekend while someone else may need an extra trip to the gym. That doesn’t mean that you are less capable of dealing with stress or more susceptible to pressure.
Spoil yourself. Take a long-bath, rent a movie, get a pedicure. Do what makes you happy.
Write about it. There is a reason there are so many bloggers in the world today. It is cathartic and clarifying to write about your feelings. Before you start a blog, you might try journaling your feelings. Talk about your day. Talk about whatever it is that is bothering you. If you prefer electronic form, email yourself.
Whatever way you de-stress, make sure it won’t make the issue worse. For example, drinking twelve shots at the local bar isn’t the best plan. Eating an entire pie, screaming at loved ones. . .well, those aren’t good options either.
Prevent When Possible
If at all possible, eliminate as much stress from your life as possible. Identify common things that stress you out, like a traffic jam on your morning commute. If it’s preventable, then eliminate that stress, by taking the train possibly. Or, if it isn’t preventable, plan ahead. Outline a few strategies to help you deal with the stress in the moment.
Once you have a plan in place, enact the scenario. It might sound silly, but once the brain starts releasing stress hormones, you may not be able to reason through the situation. If you’ve been practicing what you’ll do, then you have a much better chance of implementing the pre-planned strategy.
Above all, please remember to be kind to yourself. You are like the rest of us in that you aren’t perfect, indestructible, or incapable of a breakdown. Be kind to you and listen to your instincts.
Remember, you’re not a camel. A camel can go a long, long way without water and be just fine. Nourish yourself as often as possible.