There is a sense in the world right now that we're carrying the weight of it on our very own shoulders. Times are intense. I notice, for example, there's "good" intense--renewed optimism in our country that real hope and change will prevail and there's "bad" intense--the stress of economic collapse. Our bodies don't differentiate between the goodness and the badness of the stress. Stress is stress.
It's only Wednesday and I notice I am carrying this weight--for my family, for my friends, for my clients, for my country, for my town, for my planet, for myself. No, it's not that I am taking it all on (that would be immobilizing!); it's just that I feel the weight, the heaviness, the stress, the challenge.
I ask my clients "what's our topic today?" and I ask my son "how was school today?" and I ask my spouse "how was your day?" and there are others...and the stresses look something like this:
Locked neck and tight shoulders. Hot. Cold. Loss of appetite. The world condition. Creating organizations. Restructuring organizations. Fund raising. Strategic planning. Terminations. Unemployment. Building a business. Demands of the economic crisis. Building a board of directors. Building an advisory board. Reviewing Bylaws and other legal policies. Writing a book. Publishing a book. Living with life threatening illness. Treating life threatening illness. Discrimination. Anger management. Skill building. Body issues. Barriers to consistent exercise. Excuses. Collusion. Enabling. Laziness. Overwhelm. Staying out of the results. Taking risks. Finding courage. Being okay with frugal. Being okay with change. Being okay. Celebration of success, of growth, of making a tough decision, of making it. Holidays were fun. Happy New Year. I hate New Year resolutions. Figuring out what to do with the rest of your life. Divorce. Resistance to using any technology. Homework. Snowstorms and cold. Cost of travel. Politics. Board members stepping up and doing their jobs. Staff people who are loyal. Staff people who play small. Staff people who need to go...now. Going on vacation. Getting shots for the dog, going to the grocery store, cleaning the house. Shoveling snow. The digital television transfer. "Slumdog Millionaire" and "Milk". To do lists. Time management. Board meetings. City zoning committee meetings. Mid-term exam study sessions. Ex-boyfriend. Abusive boyfriend. Rejected grant funding. Disrespectful teenagers. Rigorous study and certification. $. Ailing seniors. Disconnected families. Reconnecting with old relatives. Family conflict. Lawsuits. Wrangling over legal documents. Lacking accountability. Fear. Home repairs. Building a business. Securing contracts. Enrolling clients. Networking. Change. Big change.
I wonder: How do you manage stress? What does balancing stress and relaxation look like for you? What does having stress cost you in time, money, productivity, health, and relationships? What do you know about "good" stress and "bad" stress in your life/partnership/organization? What are the warning signs to you that you are carrying too much weight on your shoulders? What are the signs the weight is lightening up? What is the difference for you when there is a stress you can do something about (a bad relationship, perhaps) and a stress for which you have no control (the weather, the economic meltdown)? What do you do that actually unburdens you or de-stresses you rather than ignores or simply avoids the stress? What would you be carrying on your shoulders if it wasn't the weight of the world?