We all have a capacity for carrying stress. I call mine a stress beaker – yours might be as big as a bath, or as small as a thimble, but you’ve got one. And everyday, stressful things happen and fill your beaker up… Big things, like illness, or house moves. Obviously negative things, like divorce, and positive things, like children and holidays. Little things – the daily commute, those people who throw cigarette butts on the ground without stubbing them out… And some of these things we can do something about, but many of them can’t, and it seems inevitable that our beakers will fill.
And when they over flow, you know it. Me, I get depressed and self pitying and eat chocolate. Others get angry or anxious.
The great thing about stress beakers though, is they have a tap on the bottom. And the person in charge of turning on my tap, and relieving that stress, is me. I can do it a whole multitude of ways… Having a bath with relaxing candles. Going for a run. Meeting up for coffee with a friend. Stopping to look at the flowers on the hydrangea in my front garden, and deciding if they are blue or pink. Looking after the children so my husband can dig a garden with our church’s City Hands project (I think of it as ‘volunteering by proxy’).
I’ve learnt that no-one else turns it for me (though I am very grateful to have a husband who prioritises my stress relieving activities and enables them). And I have to fight my automatic reaction of ‘I’m too stressed and busy to take time to do those things’.
Sometimes in my life my beaker hasn’t been too full, and I could take or leave those things. But at this moment in life (you know, job, children, marriage, church responsibilities, a marathon to run and fundraise for, little things like that) I need them. I need all of them. And lots. So if you see me running, it’s not that I’m some kind of super mum, so organised and superb she can even take time to lose weight. It’s just that if I don’t, my stress beaker will overflow and all the amazing super things I do will crumble in a heap around the wreck of my life again. Now there is motivation.