Back in the day I stressed about everything. Some might have considered me a control freak. I’m not sure I’d go that far.
There’s a book “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff, and It’s All Small Stuff.” I sweated it all.
Then, on an idle Saturday in August 2006, my life changed forever.
It was a typical hot Central NY summer weekend morning. I was grooming the lawn with my walk behind Snapper mower. In all my years as a homeowner, I never owned a riding mower. I viewed mowing as another way of getting in a workout. I’ve always been health conscious.
As I made my first couple of 21 inch wide cuts, I felt a heaviness in my chest. It felt like an elephant had sat on top of me. Strange indeed.
My body signaled to me to take a break. So, I slowly walked into the house, grabbed a cold glass of water, slumped into my oversized La-Z-Boy, and dialed the digits of my doctor.
“Steve you were just in here last month and everything looked great. If you’re not feeling well, go to the hospital” the nurse said in a nonchalant manner.
After I hung up, I said to myself there is no way in hell I’m going to the hospital on one of Syracuse’s top 10 weather days of the year. I was determined to finish mowing the lawn then head to the marina and take my 24 foot Chapparal power boat for a spin on Oneida Lake.
I’d say in as few as five short steps, the heaviness in my chest returned. “I don’t what this is but I’d better seek help” I said to myself.
I hopped in my truck and made a beeline for the 24 hour emergency medical care facility.
Long story short, I had a case of angina. One of my arteries was 98% shut. A stent was implanted on Monday.
The doctor couldn’t tell me what caused the infirmity. Lifestyle, eating habits, genetics, etc. No clear answer as to what caused the blockage.
I eat fairly well. Exercise more than most people my age. I get enough of sleep. Heart issues do run in my family though but not at my younger age.
The only other thing I could think of was to minimize stress. So that’s what I did.
I found the following story on the web although the author is unknown. Since that milestone day in August 2006, this is pretty much how I run my daily life. I hope you find it useful.
How Heavy Is Your 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 stresses. 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!
I read something the other day about dealing with stress. It said to ask yourself if the thing you’re worrying about will matter in 10 hours, 10 weeks or 10 years. Unless the answer is “yes” in all 3 cases, it doesn’t merit stress. I thought that was good advice.
By the way, I think you’re exaggerating when you say Syracuse has 10 good-weather days a year. I can remember exactly what I did on every sunny day during my years at SU. That’s because there were only 3 of them!
I like the -10- idea!
Ha! Only 3? 🙂
I hope everything is marvy in sunny FL!
Intriguing stuff. I’m not sure if I knew the story about the angina or the stent, but it starts to explain all the running and such. I probably need to learn how to relieve some stress, which either might help me sleep or might explain why I don’t sleep. I love that story by the way; so true…
I’m a lot less stressful overseas. Even in an environment that’s foreign to me. There’s a blog post. Ha!
Hope you’re doing well Mitch!
Stress is a killer and leading cause of cancer and heart disease. Seemingly healthy people die every day – following a good diet and exercise, never realizing stress is the biggest killer of all.
I agree. Stress is the root cause of many diseases.
Exercise, diet, sleep and a stress free environment are the keys to good health.
In my work with clients, I always check in to see how they’re balancing these areas.
It’s been my experience they’re all connected to their endgame. If they have a lousy diet, no exercise, and only getting a few hours of sleep, they won’t have the energy to crush their goals.
Then if you add stress, you’ve got a powder cake waiting to explode.
I hope you’re doing well Patrick. I look forward to speaking with you soon.