People handle stress in very different ways and each of us have varying extremes when it comes to our breaking point. Some are lucky and are able to desensitize themselves to the perils that compound normal levels of stress, while others become weighed down and feel like they are shouldering the burdens of the world. I am perched precariously in the middle.
I have a pretty high tolerance for stress. I can quell the volcano of emotion that begins to rise by merely separating the things I can control from the things I cannot and putting out those smaller fires, one by one. I don’t always win that battle but I do make a concerted effort to not let things bother me that are out of the grasp of my command.
But stress has a funny way of being able to continue a slow burn without any alarms going off. It smolders behind walls and can ignite spontaneously when it recognizes the slightest bit of exhaustion or defeat. Exhaled oxygen will spark the embers and the fire of stress breathes new life. I didn’t feel the heat emanating but the flames got the best of me and, when the inferno had died down slightly, the fiery beast had etched its charcoal marks deep under my skin.
(photo credit: earthtimes.org)
My tension is now stored neatly in large charred knots under my shoulder blades. The volcano of stress is no longer spewing lava and lighting fires as it goes, but it is laying dormant under my muscles, reminding me that it has the power to erupt with the slightest sign of newly induced tension. Any rupture in my otherwise calm facade will bring bubbling magma to the surface and give new life to that slow burn. Time for some deep breathing and a calming glass of wine!
How does your stress affect you? Is it an easily controlled burn, or does it rage out of control?