Stress isn’t good for us.
As I thought about that in the wee hours of the morning, I couldn’t help but wonder how many that would hit appropriately.
Oh sure, the rainbows and butterflies side of me struggled with putting those words to print. It’s Christmas after all and who wants to think about stress.
The reality of course is that more of us than not face varying degrees of this, some more so during this very demanding time of the year.
It’s a funny thing really, this topic of “stress” and the things which can take us there in an instant. I can very clearly recall a Barbie dream house which needed assembly one Christmas and wondering how and if I would be able to construct this thing right. With a doe eyed five-year-old eager for its delivery from the Jolly ‘ol Soul, I struggled with a little bit of my own childhood history.
I had wished for the same thing as a child and while I did not become the recipient of such an elaborate “dream” dwelling, I did receive her cousin Skipper’s beach house. Mine was put together just fine, with a bit of scotch tape here and there, as my own single mom had done her best to make it just right.
Fortunately, I was blessed with a few elves (known by others as co-workers) who were veterans at such construction. Thanks to them, my doe eyed child saw no scotch tape or the like Christmas morning. Her dream house was perfectly as it should be.
Looking back this makes me giggle. The tape on Skipper’s house I honestly never gave a second thought to until I got older. Yet for whatever reason I just had to get it perfect for my child and there came the stress. That’s a stress which could have and should be managed. It’s a dream house for goodness sake, not a life or truly anything of real importance. For me in that moment, I guess it was.
“Stress will kill you.”
Who hasn’t heard that before?
I toed the line a bit too close to this expression when I learned of my breast cancer in early 2020. Told by many that stress was a major contributor to a cancer diagnosis, again I couldn’t help but chuckle a bit.
I am in the company of a crew of people who have some very big stressors. If I were to make a list of comparison my stresses would seem slight in comparison. At least that’s my view. I’ve never been one to think I have a stressful life. My kids are typical teens, but good kids all the same. My career is one which allows me a lot of flexibility and my relationships (well, most) are both understanding and forgiving.
That all being said, I like many of you wake in the middle of the night with a brain which won’t shut off. Some of that is stress and some just busyness of things which come my way when the world is quiet.
During the cancer journey I spoke a lot with friends and family on the topic of faith. I read a lot and I journaled. During this time I came across some wisdom giving my worries to God. It had been explained to me that this is one of the biggest tests of faith. If we hold on to our worries, troubles and stresses we are denying God the ability to do what He does best – ease our troubles … heal.
So, when I would wake at night mind buzzing often with stress and worry as I would think of my family while I battled cancer, I started talking to God. Sometimes I felt maybe I just had too much at the time. Maybe His hands were becoming too full in the moment which I would choose to unload on Him in the wee hours of the morning. So I decided to place my worries in my pillow for God to pick up when it suited Him.
Now I realize for some this is all a little far out or maybe even silly or childish and that’s okay. These words aren’t for you then. What I know for sure is there is at least one set of eyes which just read that sentence and thought of their own troubles and pillow; place your worries there.
When those worries leave, when you realize the power of releasing your stress to someone bigger, then, well then give gratitude.
Obviously this is about more than a “dream” house. We have the ability to just make things bigger than they really need to be, let that set in a bit. Cakes don’t need to be perfect, kids get messy and illness happens; that’s just the nature of living, but stress, that’s ours to manage.
I promise you, I don’t have it all figured out, far from it. I do however believe that with a fresh new pillow and a strong faith my questions will be few.
God bless and Merry Christmas.
Teresa Hammond is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at email@example.com or by calling 209-847-3021.