I usually naturally awake around 4 am most days. Today, though, I was up at 2:30 am. I had work-related items on my mind last night before bed, and they stuck to me.

This morning, after I figured out a plan, I felt great. As I drove to a morning meeting, I was energized. It made me think about how stress has two sides.

One side is the part that soaks up way too much energy. The other is the side that makes you feel motivated.

Serendipitously, I was on my b-school’s web site today and saw this graphic:

I chuckled when I saw it.

I think the trick, for me, is that the slopes of that curve change over time, as does the max. point. Part of that may be linked to age as I get older. Part of it may be regarding whether I’m feeling distracted or pumped-up.

But, optimizing that curve for me has always been a challenge.

I was at a board meeting the other week, and the CEO talked about how one’s anxiety level goes down when you hit 50 years-old.

“About time,” I joked. “It feels like five straight decades of anxiety for me!”

I find the following really help: exercise, time to pray/reflect/pseudo-meditate (since I am really bad at that last one), positive and collegial relationships with my partners at Kepha, a small circle of real friends, and connecting with my family members. Also: fly fishing.

Yet, it all feels like a constant work-in-progress.

What do you do to manage stress?

4 thoughts on “Stress

  1. Joe – loved this post and the prior one regarding Parenting in a Crisis. Your observations on life are very clear and helpful. Connecting the dots between both business and life and these two posts is also useful. As parents, helping our children cope with stress is an essential life skill. We like to say get comfortable being uncomfortable. As parents we also model how to deal with stress. Prayer, recreation, friendships, are all better examples then pills or drinks which are often easier alternatives. Peace – and be well.

    1. John, I always appreciate your comments. I think you and I think a lot alike. I told Mrs. T. the other day that the most important skill I want our children to learn in high school and college is this: Stress management in positive ways. Have a good Easter….

  2. Thanks as always Jo. I also enjoy your connections between life, family and business.

    The one simple (but not always easy) anxiety and stress-management advice I use for myself and my family is ‘If you’re in your head, get into your body’. Stress and anxiety seem to start in the head then move to the body so I try and reverse it by doing things like a swim in the ocean, walk with a friend, cook something new, play music, play sport, sleep … take your pick of anything where your physical and mental concentration gets redirected for a bit. My range of ‘circuit-breakers’ are unique to me. Just find whatever works to give you a break from the problem and help get things back in perspective. Rinse and repeat! 🙂

    1. Hi Petrina, that’s very insightful, and I appreciate the comment.

      There’s a school of thought that the body records quite diligently your thoughts and emotions. I love the idea of doing something different with the body to reset the mind.

      For me, being out in nature is incredibly restful and fulfilling….

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