Happy Stress

The fully aligned system of your mind, body and spirit is an infrastructure. And like all infrastructures designed to support activity, it has maximum stress capacities in various conditions and for various types of strain.

It’s like a bridge. Imagine a bridge with a one-ton weight capacity. If more than a ton of cars are on the bridge at once, the bridge is very likely to collapse.

And here’s the thing: it does not matter one bit whether those cars are part of a parade or a funeral procession.

In other words, whether something is “good” or “bad,” whether it’s “happy” or “sad;” these things don’t really affect whether or not they’re stressful.

But we, both as individuals and as a culture at large, tend to minimize the right to feel stressed when the things causing the stress are good. If your spouse loses their job, your basement floods, your dog gets sick and your car breaks down all in the same week, people are quick to show their support for you and encourage you to take some time to yourself. Maybe a day off, someone brings you soup, that sort of thing.

But “happy stress” can sometimes be even more straining because you’re sort of just told to “suck it up.” Heck, you probably even tell yourself that – I know I do. Got a new promotion, kids get a new puppy, big trip coming up, etc. – it’s still stress, but because it stems from good things we don’t think we’re allowed to be overwhelmed.

We ignore early warning signs. We work harder to fight through it. We don’t take care of ourselves, because the circumstances are “good.” But you can still hit a wall. You can still put so much pressure on the infrastructure that it starts to crack. Maybe that looks like making poor or impulsive choices. Maybe it looks like ignoring valuable but less exciting or pressing things. Whatever it is, it can still be harmful.

Whether things are good or bad overall, take care of yourself. It’s okay to take a day off and be calm, even if all the other days are good ones – sometimes they can just be a lot and that’s fine to acknowledge.

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