What are your thoughts on it? Have you experienced stress before? How do you define it? Is there a difference between stressful situations and actual physically manifested distress? How fast does your pulse come down after you've been feeling stressed? Where's the line to anxiety? These and many other questions are running through my mind as I look at the calendar and wonder where the past eight months have gone.

Time's not always a factor for stress though, at least it doesn't have to be. You know why Confucius said, "when in a hurry, take a detour"? Because you don't function well when you're in a hurry. Your mind is racing and you're not paying attention to the moment you're in, because you're preoccupied with how late you are or where you should already be by now. Before you know it, you've rear-ended the car in front, or watered your TV instead of your plants. I wish sometimes that there were more hours in one day so I could get everything done that's needing attention, and there'd be some spare to read a novel without feeling like there's something else I should be doing, something more productive. Alas, time's the same for everyone, last I checked nobody was able to freeze the moments or make them go faster at will. How come some people experience time as if there's plenty, and others as if there's never enough?

I guess in part it has to do with the "should"-ing I mentioned earlier, with expectations we have of ourselves, and expectations others have of us that we want to fulfil. "Early bird catches the worm" and other phrases like it almost make me feel bad for sleeping in even on the weekend, you know? The point for a well-balanced life, though, is to make time for relaxation, before too much stress takes its toll, and your body and mind experience a burn-out. This is when you'll be forced to take a break because you won't be able to do anything at all. Check back next week for more information on burn-out and its stages to see where you're at.

Everything's important, there's always going to be something to do, people to call, letters to write, work to finish. Next time you know your mind is racing and you feel your blood pressure rise, take a deep breath and a moment to reflect on what the actual stressful element is. Maybe once you've identified it you can practice getting things done without rushing. Make the conscious decision not to feel rushed or stressed. Paying attention to the moment, to traffic, to whatever it is you're in the middle of doing. You know if you rush and you're not doing it right, you have to do it all over again anyway, and that'll take even more time. Besides, it really is ok to smell the roses once in a while.

For more information on stress, its symptoms, how to reduce it, how it relates to diseases like cancer, and much much more, check out the American Institute of Stress and pages like Revolution Health.

Til next time! Thanks to Joy Prescott for the image.

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