I was looking at a photo from my sons 3 year old birthday party. Temira (8) commented that I looked so young and pretty in the photo. So of course that made we wonder what I look like now – 8 years later. She said “old and tired”. Not exactly what I was hoping to hear.
Stress can do that to you………
For the last 6 months I have been overwhelmed with stress on many levels. I simply have bitten off more than I can chew. In the last few weeks I have been particularly stressed about my dad’s health, work, JICNY and more.
I remember from psychology courses at college that stress is the subjective experience like a set of scales that is out of balance. On one side of the scale is one’s perceived ability to cope with stress and on the other side is one’s perceived stress load. When the perceived stress load is greater than the perceived ability to cope with the stress things become unbalanced and we experience the unpleasant and unproductive feeling of being stressed.
I find thinking of stress in this way to be a useful way to try and get things back into balance – either improve one’s ability to cope with the stress level or lighten the perceived burden of stress. I have a couple of strategies for each side of the scale.
To improve the ability to cope with stress, I try remind myself that Hashem only gives us tests and challenges that we can cope with and that by rising to the challenge, He gives us a unique opportunity to grow and improve ourselves. And for the other side – the perceived stress level, I try put things into perspective. So many people are dealing with issues so much worse that what is causing me stress – G-d forbid serious health issues, couples going through martial challenges or the inability to conceive and have children. By putting my challenges against the backdrop of much more serious issues and reflecting on the multiple blessings that enrich my life, I gain perspective and ability to cope.
I dedicate this blog to my dear friend Susan whose daughter Leah – not yet two years old, has been diagnosed with a serious illness. May Leah Raphaella bat Shoshana Malka have a full and speedy recovery!
And to my Dad, Shmuel ben Leah, who has suffered so much may you be free of pain.
Originally published: May 10, 2013
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