“The past is gone, the future is not yet here, and if we do not go back to ourselves in the present moment, we cannot be in touch with life.” – Thích Nhất Hạnh
I want you all to hold onto that sentence for the time being.
I keep on saying this. I am no expert in the human condition and certainly don’t have the answers. I am not a scholar and have no idea of what people cleverer than myself say about the subject. I keep on falling back on my own experiences. I have two grown up sons. As a father I wish I could plug a cable from my head to theirs, showing them the mistakes I have made in order that they would not repeat the same. But if that were possible, then possibly life lessons would be cheaply bought without any sort of graft. One thing I have learnt about life is that the result usually comes before the lesson. Life can be quite unfair sometimes!
So stress. What’s all that about and how do we overcome it? Well, the answer is rather simple and as human being’s we hate things that are simple. That’s why we stress.
I have learnt that there are two types of stress in relation to police work. There is the stress that that we have at home; a divorce, a wayward son, financial worries. We bring that stress to our work place. Once at work, collectively our stress adds to the stress of our work place, which ultimately infects our colleagues. How many times have you left the house in a good mood with your partner that has very definitely fallen out of the wrong side of the bed. Within minutes you become stressed because they are stressed! Your work place is no different and stress is as infectious as laughter.
Stress is a horrible condition, taking every bit of energy from you. Yet for all that energy that you expend being stressed where does it get you? A pointless, futile expenditure of emotional energy, that moves you exactly zero inches.
It’s self-serving and self-feeding! It affects the people in charge of you. Don’t think for one minute they are immune. Your shoulders are as broad as there’s. No man is an island and one of the worse feeders of stress is thinking that no one else is feeling the effects.
At what point do you realize that stress is a waste of time. Well we become accustomed to stress, it becomes the norm. You put up with it. Usually at work when a supervisor who is equally suffering from stress puts on you and you think “What! That just doesn’t make any sense at all.” A wake up call, you sit upright and think, “this is crazy.” Parking spaces, the area above your locker, a dictate saying that you must password protect your printouts to save paper, the list goes on. Superiors making an issue out of nothing and you sit there thinking if only they would show their attention to matters that may affect my life and that of my colleagues. That is when you realize you are under stress.
Ultimately coal face workers are scratching their heads as to what to do. Your mates are stressed. You have a close bond to your mates, you feel empathy with them and so you share their stress as well as your own.
It’s an emotion that feeds itself, breeds like a virus to the point you can feel it in the parade room prior to the start of a tour.
All this leads to stress.
So how do combat this stress? Well how about taking responsibility for your own well being?
It may not be your fault that you are stressed but it is every bit of you to make sure that your stress does not over power you. Now that is easier said than done.
Put your stress into perspective and ask yourself “Why am I stressed?”
Are you stressing over the tiniest of things? If you are, its time to check yourself and REMIND yourself just what is important in your life. For stress, has a habit of stripping away the important things in life, the things that matter, the things that SHOULD matter to you. When you forget those benchmarks, you have no point of reference and so you take off with little or no encouragement at all to a point of paralysis.
Connect with yourself. Remind yourself of who you are and why, despite all the odds, you are where you are.
You see, when you put life into perspective and prioritise what is important to you, things become very simple. You could call it being selfish. I ask of yourselves to become selfish with yourselves. Unless you look after yourself and ground yourself in what matters, you will simply float away in the waters of “what could I have done.” Distracted by the stress of “Theres too much to do.”
So ultimately then, stress is all about where you are now…… right now. Its relative. It can destroy you or it can make you. x