Acing the Stress Test

So a few weeks ago, when I was asked at work to write a sort of last-minute blog for our organization, my pulse quickened, my forehead glistened (I prefer “glisten” to the word “sweat”) and my belly went barrrummmmp. That’s because I got stressed. It was not a good week. I mean it wasn’t a bad week (I need to be careful of these binary opposites); it wasn’t an opportunistic week for me to do anything…extra.

Now, usually I’m pretty good under pressure. Outwardly, that is. I still have a reputation for being a Rip Van Winkle about stress. When I was in college and found myself at the 11th hour of a paper, I’d go to sleep, which, upon waking, only stressed me out even more. But I looked rested. And the biggest reason I would fall behind was because I couldn’t say no to favors or requests, which added to an already-full list of to-do’s when it came to classwork back in the day or work-work in these three decades I’ve had a j-o-b.

How we react to stress is completely subjective. Some of us get angry; some of us cry. I admit to the latter back in February, and I can recall the date. On February 7, I received an email requesting my bibliography for a presentation I was due to deliver in less than two weeks. I had used about two dozen sources, none of which I’d recorded formally. Instead I had notes…everywhere. So, what’s the big deal? you may ask. You had two weeks! Oh no I didn’t. This request came the day before the Eastern seaboard would be hit with what weather forecasters called a “blizzard of historic proportions,” the same day our weeklong Jamaica family vacation, which included my 83-year-old mother who’s already transportationally (I made up that word) challenged, was also due to begin. So I cried. In the office. There really wasn’t a comfortable spot for me to nap.

Now how we handle stress is also subjective. We have a choice. Sure, crying can purge. Sleep offers escape. Deep breathing. Mantras. Creative visualization. Watching “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” (kidding, sort of). Check out WebMD’s three simple on-the-go stress busters. But here’s a novel idea: How about asking for what you need to make the situation more relaxing? If you’re dealing with respectful people, betchyer bottom dollar they’ll work with you. Being respectful for many of us comes naturally and easily; and some of us need to be gently reminded that honoring the needs of others helps breed a peaceful society.

So when I was asked to write that blog with no time to spare, I asked if I could write another one instead a few weeks later – which, as it turns out, was about stress. While rescheduling isn’t always an option (as it wasn’t for turning in my bibliography), more times than you might think, it is, which may make handling an occasional immovable stress trigger a whole lot easier.