Wednesday, February 28, 2007

All Stressed Out

A man went in to see his psychiatrist and he said, "Doc, I can't get any sleep. One night I dream that I'm a wigwam and the next night I dream that I'm a teepee. Then again, I dream that I'm a wigwam and then a teepee. Can you help me?" "Well," replied the doctor, "I know what your problem is. You're two tents."
Too Tense. Most all of us, at one time or another, have said, "I feel all stressed out." We know how stress feels, but we don't necessarily know what causes it. I have learned that there are some things that are regular stressors in my life, and other things that don't even faze me.

I now know that any type of sales job will put me over the edge. I've always been very skilled at sales, but after awhile it will break me down. My worst experience with this particular stressor was when I worked as a loan officer in Arizona. I had gone through some intensive training (no stress) and then had started work, but I didn't feel under pressure at all. The real problems began when we got a new District Manager. His managerial philosophy was that employees/salesmen need to be constantly pushed to meet their full potential.

The stress created by him was due to his unreasonable expectations. No matter how well you did (I wrote the largest loan in the office), he was never satisfied. He kept raising the bar, which meant that your performance was never adequate. "Well, that's pretty good, but don't tell me what you did today, tell me what you are going to do tomorrow," he would say. The constant pressure to do more and more finally got to me, and I started going into a deep depression. It was the worst that I had ever experienced. Consequently, I had to resign, even though my local office manager tried everything to help me to stay.

The curious thing about stress is that it is highly personal. What is a stressor for one person may not bother another person at all. When Teresa and I lived in Hot Springs, we were startled one morning by a loud Craaash Baaang!!! When we looked outside, we saw that a car had wrecked in front of our house. We learned later that the teenager driving had been fleeing from the police. He hit a railroad track hump, flew into the air and wrapped his car like a fortune-cookie around a utility pole.

When I ran outside, there was another man there calling 911 on his cell phone. I worked my way down a deep ditch until I could reach the car and found a boy trapped in his vehicle. The car was doubled around the pole and the kid was entangled in the wreckage. He was screaming and crying, so I tried to keep him calm until the ambulance arrived. Every time he moved he was cutting himself on the glass and twisted steel. I kept talking to him, telling him that he would be alright, and held him as still as I could. When the police, firemen and paramedics arrived, I was sure that he would not live to get to the hospital (he did). I got out of their way and went back inside of my home. When I looked in a mirror, I saw that I was covered in his blood. By the time that I had cleaned up, the firemen had cut him out of the wreckage and taken him to the hospital.

The point of the story is that I wasn't stressed at all. I've learned that those types of events don't bother me. My personal stressors are deadlines, quotas, ethical conflicts, poor job performance (like my recent job), feelings of helplessness, unmet expectations, and an inability to keep up with and fulfill my responsibilities. Stress is like poison to my mental health.

My wife, like many, gets stressed out over Thanksgiving, Christmas, financial dilemmas, family tensions, moving and other things. Every person has their own personal list of stressors. Two websites that I would recommend are: (for a stress test) and (for information).

The goal for good mental health is not to avoid all stress, but simply avoid the "bad" stress. Whatever affects your well-being negatively is bad stress.
Stress Management

Picture yourself near a stream.
Birds are singing in the crisp, cool mountain air.
Nothing can bother you here.
No one knows this secret place.
You are in total seclusion from the rest of the world.
The soothing sound of a waterfall fills the air with a cascade of serenity.
The water is clear.
You can easily make out the face of the person whose head you are holding under the water.
There now, doesn't that make you feel much better?

"An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up (Proverbs 12:25)."

["I'm so low I could do a ten minute free-fall off the edge of a dime."]

1 comment:

Neva said...

Stress has come to live at my house. My youngest son has left his wife and is living like he never heard of God. My oldest is being sent to Iraq for a year. He is leaving in just six weeks. Both have small children.
God is helping me work through the stressful situations but I believe His promise that the prayer of a righteous man availeth much. So, my brother, I am asking.
Peace to you and still praying