Weeding out stress

iCAP Services logoHave you had the type of day where public transport is late, you need to have that difficult conversation you’ve been putting off, erratic drivers have been popping up everywhere, a poor school report has been flagged, a work project is not going to plan, and a vital piece of equipment has just blown up when you need it the most?

These are the types of everyday events that collectively cause stress to creep up on you.

Over the years, I’ve realised that I (unknowingly) had a unique way of dealing with stress, which is one of the reasons why I love the longer days and warmer months of the year.

When I arrive home, I zero in on the backyard with the sole purpose of relieving the stress that has been building up during the day.

Weedy gardenThe particular activity that helps me cope with stress is … weeding!

As each weed succumbs to my efforts, I sense the stress I am carrying being reduced; lessening to a more tolerable level. Each weed lifted out of the ground seems to represent a piece of stress being lifted off the entire load.

Even the act of bundling up the pile of weeds, grandly tossing them into the garden refuse bin and dropping the lid back into place, gives me a sense of having thrown out or put a lid on the effect of stress.

The result is a feeling of being unburdened; of a load having been lifted.

As I walk back into the house and leave the weeded-out stress behind, I am ready to slow down and be in the moment rather than continue to carry today around.

I haven’t actually solved the stressful situation by weeding the backyard. Instead, I’ve developed a coping mechanism, a time-out switch to give me the breathing space I need to regroup, relax and be ready to face the situation later.

Stress is a normal, human reaction. What is unhealthy is prolonged, uninterrupted stress.

We know about the studies that state how stress can increase blood pressure, affect the digestive system, cause headaches, etc. When there is no respite, these lead to much more serious health issues like heart disease, ulcers and strokes.

Now in the winter months when I arrive home and it’s too dark and cold to go outside, I’m contemplating a suitable replacement to help weed out my stress.

What do you do to weed out your stress? What’s your time-out switch to help you cope? How do you go about relieving the burden of today so you can face tonight and tomorrow?

Tina Pitsiavas is a Counsellor and Psychotherapist in private practice in Wollongong and Sydney.

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