Stress can help or hinder when we are faced with a challenge.
If stress helps us to focus on a challenge, whatever it is, then it is our friend.
If stress brings our attention to something that needs facing – like an exam or a difficult conversation or some big event – then wonderful. Attention brings energy, sensible preparation, it brings clarity and calm.
We are doing all we can do; and no one can do more.
But not all stress is a friend. It ceases being friendly when it brings distracted behaviour, paralysis or loss of focus. These are the signs.
Perhaps everything all suddenly seems too much; there is no place of peace in our lives.
If our stress is the unfriendly sort, it’s worth having a conversation with it. I’d ask it questions like ‘Why are you here? Why now?’ and ‘Where have you come from?’
I may also ask, ‘When are you going?’
Stress, like a cloud in the sky, is passing through. It has no more substance than the substance we give it – so, where possible, don’t give it any.
But do speak with it. It may be hurting you – but do speak with it. It brings a message.
It can also help to speak the stress out loud. Get it out of your body where you can see it better, where it has less power.
‘I’m finding this difficult. I don’t know what to do.’
This can often best be done in someone else’s company, someone we trust.
Remember, though, this is not who you are. Your sky is blue. But like a cloud in the sky, stress does pass through.