Old and new mechanics

Firstly, new mechanics: I shall split my weekend posts into a part 1 and part 2. To keep the posts shorter. And because I don’t have the time to write 2 separate posts. The irony indeed. No time on weekends? Sorry, spent at church.

Lol. As if everyone actually reads my whole thing. Of course, I realise that some people do.

Now, old mechanics. And the thought of the day.

The mechanics of stress.

A-ha. Am I going to come up with the universal answer to stress?

I’m not sure at this point. This post is just going to flow out of my head, so forgive me if the direction of it seems flimsy (or my other posts for that matter).

What is stress? I always seem to start with this classic question – what, for those who are beginning to spot similar patterns in all my posts.

Well, I think I’ll try to define this word myself. Stress is the toil, the strain on your body, mind, emotions and soul by an activity that exceeds your current state of being. It’s not that you can’t push past what you’re comfortably capable of, it’s just that it comes with ‘stress’. It’s like a rubber band being pulled in all directions, and as stress sets in, you see the colour thin. Put in enough stress, and it snaps.

So the solution would seem to be: Stick within your capabilities.

Well that’s the easy way out.

I always say push yourself. But don’t do it to the detriment of everything else. In other words, don’t let stress conquer you. Push your limits and conquer that stress.

Now, I am pretty sure I come across as a non-stressed person. Which is true. Cos I don’t suffer from stress. I suffer from lack of sleep at times yes, but I don’t let it turn into stress. I just transfer sleep time to times I should not be sleeping, like in some classes. And between lessons. Of course, I highly recommend not sleeping in class. I just do it in CERTAIN lessons, when I’m really wasting my time listening to a really useless lesson, which does happen, albeit rarely, i.e. once a week.

So that establishes my credentials to make a comment about this topic.

And here are the ways to deal with stress:

1. Establish the nature of stress
To conquer stress, you must first identify where it originates from. For example, a common factor of stress nowadays is in school, and all the studying. And since most of you reading this are students, well, might as well keep the post relevant in that sense.

Now, identifying the origin of stress is not as simple as saying it’s the amount of studying. More likely it is the pressure of expectations, regardless of its origin, usually in the form of achieving a minimum grade, the reality of time constraints enforced by other responsibilities and the common factor uniting stress: worry.

Yep. Don’t believe me? Next time you get stressed, tell me how much you worry. Worry about whether you can finish your studying. Worry about the nature of the examination question. Worry about achieving the grade you need. Worry, worry, worry.

Generally, stress manifests in two forms: self-induced stress and externally-imposed stress.

2. Conquer thyself
Let’s address the issue of self-induced stress.

Now this will most definitely not be a comprehensive guide to tackling every single possible factor causing stress, but I’ll try my utmost best to emphasise principles rather than methodology.

Again, let’s go back to the ones mentioned above. Take expectations. Expectations are, well, expected. You just have to live with the reality that there will always be expectations. The way you handle it is to channel those expectations in such a way as to maximise your abilities. Haha.

Sounds profound? Not really. Essentially, with your personal expectations, it’s best to be realistic, and instead of studying towards achieving those, study such that you can achieve it. Don’t make an A grade the objective of your studying; rather study such that you put yourself in prime position to achieve that grade.

OK. That sounded crap. Let me put it another way. It’s not so much the final destination, but the journey that matters. If you put yourself on the right course, you will reach your intended destination. In other words, if you’re looking to achieve an A, but you’re not studying such that you can do so, you’re being unrealistic. But if you are studying such that you can achieve the most out of what you study, then you will get an A provided you have the ability to do so.

And really, I did sidestep the issue, but worry factors into the above point as well. You can worry so much about the intended destination, that you pay no attention to our current journey. In colloquial terms (note the irony of the word colloquial. It really just means informal, conversational, everyday language, yet we never use that word much), you focus so much on the A, that you forget how to get that A.

Expanding on this issue of worry, we have to realise that there is not much basis for worry. To me, everything is done and dusted, leaving no room for worry. I wonder, but I don’t worry. I get myself worked up enough to the point where my mind is alert and fully operational, but I never let it overwork itself with unnecessary worry. The key is to achieve the right level of nerves.

And just to emphasise how worry creates a huge part of self-induced stress, one of the key components of stress is summed up in the phrase: So much to do, but so little time with which to do so. It’s all about time. And worry only adds to the time. The key is to not focus on the much, but be realistic and approach it in appropriate proportions. Don’t overdo yourself. And when you are in prime position to take on the ‘much’, you have little to worry about. Be confident in your approach, and your destination is assured.

I also realise that a lot of self-induced stress, is due to competitive pressures, namely from peers. Always wanting to do better than the other person is stupid. It’s like a race. You never look at your competitors to see where they are. An athlete would say that is the stupidest thing in a race, because it will make you lose. Stay focused on the running and eventually you’ll hit that finish line. If your running is fantastic, you’ll beat them. If not, you still ran your best and there’s no way you could have done any better, unless you took drugs. So quit worrying about always being the best.

Of course there are a lot of other ways that can help conquer, and even prevent from the outset, self-induced stress. I’ll just regurgitate a list of thoughts. Be organised, be prepared and enjoy yourself.

Haha. Enjoy yourself. That’s the key bit. Stress is inevitable when you hate what you’re doing. I’ve yet to see someone stressed by something they enjoy doing.

And what’s a post from me without the Christian grounding? The key to conquering worry is to not worry at all. God will take care of your future, your destination. He has it all planned out. You only need to focus on the journey. Life is like a race. Keep running in the direction you’re heading at the moment. God is like a ‘Dopod’ (A navigating device that uses GPS technology and mapping to help you reach your destination): He’s your navigator, telling you where to run. All you have to do is focus on your running and listen to the directions. The path will not always be easy going; there will be those uphill rough moments – life ain’t always pretty, but the view at the end of the path is nothing short of wholly satisfying. Just keep to the track. Remember that God’s directions won’t always appear rational to you at first. But if you can trust a Dopod to give you the right directions, what more the creator of you? And well, dont forget to fill up on God’s strength. Keep yourself energised, able to run the race of life.

This concludes part 1 of the post. Tomorrow, I shall address externally-imposed stress, which is equally a real issue, especially with this kiasu-ness permeating our culture.

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