Changing Your Reaction to Stress

Rev. Suzanne Marlatt Stewart

The following story, “Stress and the Glass of Water,” is often quoted in stress management therapies. The story reminds us that stress is something very subjective. Stress is part of our lives and can be very helpful to achieve our goals. “If we think too much and for too long about any given stressor and our reaction to it, a healthy stress response can develop into an unhealthy one, which in turn can lead to the development of mental disorders,” says Sonia Jaeger, Ph.D.

Stress and the Glass of Water

A psychologist walked around a room while teaching stress management to an audience. As she raised a glass of water, everyone expected they’d be asked the “half empty or half full” question. Instead, with a smile on her face, she inquired: “How heavy is this glass of water?”

Answers called out ranged from 8 oz. to 20 oz. She replied, “The absolute weight doesn’t matter. It depends on how long I hold it. If I hold it for a minute, it’s not a problem. If I hold it for an hour, I’ll have an ache in my arm. If I hold it for a day, my arm will feel numb and paralyzed. In each case, the weight of the glass doesn’t change, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes.”

She continued, “The stresses and worries in life are like that glass of water. Think about them for a while and nothing happens. Think about them a bit longer and they begin to hurt. And if you think about them all day long, you will feel paralyzed—incapable of doing anything.” It’s important to remember to let go of your stress. As early in the evening as you can, put all your burdens down. Don’t carry them through the evening and into the night. Remember to put the glass down!” (source unknown)

Most Common Stress-Related Health Problems

Holding onto stress can affect your health. Stress-related health issues include heart problems, obesity, diabetes, depression, gastrointestinal problems, sleep problems, and dementia.

* Accept the fact that maybe some days you’re the pigeon, and some days you’re the statue!

* Always keep your words soft and sweet, just in case you ever must eat them.

* Stay present … drive carefully … it’s not only cars that can be recalled by their Maker.

* Nobody cares if you can’t dance well. Just get up and do it!

* When everything’s coming your way, you may be in the wrong lane.

* A truly happy person is one who can enjoy the scenery on a detour.

* Speak your truth … you have a right to be heard but no need to yell.

* You’re OK on your path and so is everyone else, traveling their own path.

I often say, you can’t control what’s going on outside of yourself, how someone will act or what they will say, or the world drama at any given moment, but you can control how you will react.

Have an awesome day and know that someone has thought about you today.

Rev. Suzanne, a resident of SaddleBrooke, is an independent writer and speaker. She was ordained non-denominational, representing all faiths, her focus is “inclusivity” Email her at [email protected].