Stress in Life – Getting it Out

Another night, another flight, another blog.  The photo out the window will probably turn out lame this time.  Usually, I keep a list of topics to hit on so I can get something burning off my mind.  Tonight though, I don’t feel like looking at it at all.  There’s really just more a general unease I have and the keyboard of my Mac is calling.

Not the greatest shot but sunsets from the air always get me thinking.
Not bad but sunsets from the air are always nice.

We all feel stress in different ways and from different sources.  It can be a challenge to take the stress on and use it as a positive or just survive it.  Recently, I watched a TED Talk on how stress can cause physical harm or actually be a way to focus yourself and create a positive outcome.  Apparently when you accept stress as a reaction to dire circumstances, you can get increased blood flow and oxygen without the constricting arteries and veins which lead to hypertension.  Or the thought that you could be using stress as a positive but aren’t could really stress you out.  That’s probably bad.
In my case, I have a few factors weighing on my mind.  First, I have some family medical issues which are pretty concerning.  They may stay minor noise but may turn out to be major and heartbreaking.  I also look around me and see other friends who are going through worse than I am.  One’s having a marriage break up.  One left a vacation early to deal with some personal issues.  One learned that his brother was in the building the DC Navy Yard shootings were in while it was going down.  Some of these were years in building and others hit in the blink of an eye.  You just don’t know when something could happen.

This past weekend was Yom Kippur.  I’m Jewish and for us, this is The Day of Atonement.  It’s the day when you make your peace with G-d for everything you failed to live up to over the last year or wrongs which you’ve done.  That aspect of it is always humbling and many religions have a similar concept in some fashion.  The thing with Yom Kippur – and any other act of religious contrition – is that it’s only good for part of the picture.  One thing we’re taught is that forgiveness for transgressions against others only comes from those you’ve wronged.  That can be a challenge but is also something which we should do far more often than once a year.

Maybe the other personal issues are weighing more heavily on me this year.  I wasn’t any worse a person this year than prior years.  Maybe I was actually better.  However, situations like those I outlined above just happen occasionally.  Maybe being more open with our spouses means our marriages are stronger.  Maybe that extra hug we give a friend or family member becomes part of a lasting memory the two of you have when that’s all that you have.

Each phase of life brings new stress.  Fitting in with peers in high school can be brutal.  Getting through college can be fun but there’s a lot of pressure.  That first job brings the need to succeed and validate what you’ve done in your life.  Children bring a new set of challenges which only grow as they do.  Career progression and fulfillment can overshadow the rest of our adult lives.  Making connections we value may be the single most important thing we do over that period of time.  Keep that in mind the next time you’ve got a fork in the road when you can hug or say something which can linger and cause regret.

There’s daily choices we all make which lead down different paths even though they may not be obvious at the time.  All we can do is watch for trends in what we do, think, and say to make sure we keep going down the right one and that we’re walking it with the right people.
Forget the road less traveled.  Take the one you know you should.
Forget the road less traveled. Take the one you know you should.

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