It is not uncommon to feel a bit stressed. I frequently hear of students who suffer from stress, or anxiety – heck throw a math exam my way – never mind that it’s a grade 6 math test and watch the bullets of sweat bead up on my increasingly balding head. This belies the fact that I did receive 100% in Math 30 back in the 70’s as I finished my high school math career. (That 48% the first year required a second effort and 52% in the second round to attain that 100% but still….who says traditional math instruction didn’t work).
Back to embracing stress…I have 3 daughters and 3 sons – the youngest is now 21 (I think) and all of them have their own unique ways of dealing with stress and anxiety. Recently I had the opportunity to watch Kelly McGonigal (@ and Kelly’s website with tips,videos, articles etc) present at TED (not live I haven’t been that fortunate but on youtube). Check it out below.
Kelly McGonigal referred to a couple of studies in support of her work, here is a summary of the Keller, Litzelman study from the University of Wisconsin.
Jamieson, Mendes and Nock’s work on our choice to redirect our response to stress can be read here. And a brief report of the study can be found here. Jamieson, Mendes and Nock quote William James writing, “The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.” This aligns with my belief that we must never forget that our agency, our ability to choose is foundational in all that we do – that and the faith based notion that we will never be tested beyond what we are capable to endure.
Like any other skill or attribute our capacity to redirect or refocus stress and anxiety from debilitating to empowering or at least sustaining our work takes time, but like every other lesson it begins with a commitment to listen, read, and ponder the alternative responses and then giving it a try.
I particularly like the idea that service rendered to others, even when we feel caught up in our own tsunami of events and “stress” can provide us with a valuable stress buster and the capacity to get through the moment and increase our own capacity. I find myself challenged to be more mindful and keep my eyes open for opportunities to serve and support.