Handling Stress

Rachel Kent

Blogger: Rachel Kent

Last night I was reading with my daughter and she picked the book When Sophie Gets Angry–Really, Really Angry by Molly Bang. It’s a Caldecott Honor Book about a little girl, Sophie, whose sister takes her toy gorilla away and then her mom (unfairly) allows the sister to keep the monkey. This makes Sophie very angry and she has to deal with her anger. Sophie roars, runs out the door, climbs a tree, walks for a bit, and then returns home where she does a puzzle with her family and then paints a picture. (Honestly, this isn’t my favorite book because Sophie runs away from home for awhile and I don’t want to encourage my kids to think that’s ever an option.)

This book and a walk my family took around a local lake got me thinking about stress. Sophie was angry and had to deal with the stress of her sister taking her monkey and her mom taking her sister’s side during the ordeal. Sophie dealt with her stress by getting out into nature and taking some time by herself. Then she did some quiet, relaxing activities–painting and a puzzle. She also changed her focus and didn’t go back to playing with that gorilla toy when she got home.

After my family took our little walk we all felt more relaxed and had a nice evening together with less stress.

As a writer, how do you deal with the stress of a tight deadline or having to balance work, writing, and home-life? Or any kind of stress?

Do you get some exercise or do a quiet activity?

Do you change your focus?

Maybe take a shower or soak in a hot tub?

Does spending time in nature help you to de-stress?

Personally, I find that getting some exercise or listening to music are great stress-relievers for me. I’d love to hear what you do when you feel overwhelmed/stressed.

And I hope you all have a wonderful, relaxing long-weekend!

30 Responses

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  1. Carol Ashby says:

    First way to de-stress: dark chocolate.
    Second way to de-stress: buckling down to complete the task that’s stressing me out. Postponing working on something just prolongs the stress because it takes longer to get it done and gives more time to worry about the fact that it isn’t done yet.
    Third way: milk chocolate.
    Remember, stressed is simply desserts spelled backwards.
    *I’m joking about the chocolate and desserts, but I’m truly serious about the solution of simply working harder to get it done. Nothing relieves stress as well as finishing the task, and even making progress toward that goal greatly reduces the stress.

  2. Your story reminded me of the time our boys’ stretchy rubber monster went missing.
    * The toilet was plugged, and my husband was plunging with all his might while our three sons were eating breakfast in the next room. I asked if anything unusual had been flushed. One of the boys responded quietly, “I haven’t seen Godzilla lately.”
    * Hmmm. Godzilla in the Chicago sewer system.
    * Made you smile. And that relieves stress.
    * A final note: three years later, the sewer pipe that served our eight living units was blocked and had to be dug up. The Abbotts were relieved when the workers found the source of the problem–no Godzilla, just a broken cinder block.

  3. For me I think perspective is the key. After I allow myself a brief (30 minutes?) time to feel what I feel, I try to get a clear picture. Is this life or death? Am I still loved? Do I still have all the incredible blessings that I have? It also helps if I get away from the pounding beat of the world-internet, television, etc. to reflect.
    And when all else fails, I agree with Carol. Dark chocolate cures everything.

    • Emma Fox says:

      Malinda, this reminds me of Brennan Manning’s advice in the Ragamuffin Gospel: to take a deep breath and simply say, “Abba (Hebrew for ‘Daddy’), I belong to you.” Just remembering that God loves me and that he’s taking care of me goes a long way!
      Getting outside helps too. Immensely. And amen to the dark chocolate advice : )

    • Rachel Kent says:

      Very nice!

  4. Stress made me thrive; that I was at my best and happiest under pressure, because I had no choice but to perform, and the self-confidence to know that I could meet any challenge.
    * My outward mien showed little of this; I practiced Zen Buddhism (still do) and was told that my demeanour was surprisingly calm and pleasant for one so different; surprisingly because the inner man was always coiled and ready to go. It was a dichotomy that most found hard to reconcile.
    * This made me a pretty horrible person to be around; I’d set deadlines where there were not, and push myself harder all the time, leading those who were with me to think they had to match my pace. No vacations, and no ‘down time’ save what was absolutely necessary.
    * When I married, trying to adjust to a normal person’s way of life was hard (Barbara and I had a long distance relationship through our courtship, so I was able to keep my bad side under wraps, as it were). I really couldn’t do it, and made both of us miserable (and we divorced after less than a year, only to remarry a year after that).
    * I’m not sure what the lesson is here; embracing stress made me very effective at what I did, but the cost I imposed on others – and, perhaps, on myself – was higher than that which was worth paying.

  5. Making a daily prioritized list helps me deal with the stress of deadlines. I’m more inclined to focus on what’s truly important with the ability to say “no” to sudden fires that consume my minutes. Achievable, bite-size bits take away the overwhelming fear found in looking at whole projects at once. I don’t feel trapped by my list, though. It’s ALWAYS in pencil! When I start my day asking God for His divine guidance, I don’t get as frustrated when the inevitable sidetracks happen, recognizing they could be the very direction He’s ordained for me. And I’ve recognized it’s more costly in brain cells and time to worry than to do.

  6. If anyone wants an effective de-stressor, I have one on offer, and you only have to come by my house and take Josie and Reebok for a walk.
    * Josie and Reebok are two very muscular Ridgeback sisters, wonderfully friendly to people, They are also known as “The Little Girls”, and,perhaps more tellingly, “THEM!”
    * They never go off leash, as they are innate hunters, and when on leash they have a constant wrestling game going that looks like the parts of a WWF Grudge Match that had to be edited out. The walker has to constantly uncross leashes and switch hands to avoid being tied and pulled to the ground under the exuberant pair.
    * It requires total focus, and after getting them back to the house you wonder whatever on Earth you could have been worried about before.

  7. I love this blog posting!
    There are two things I do to reduce stress, and interestingly, they are the two you mentioned. I find strenuous exercise (bike ride, chopping firewood, racquetball) are great stress reducers. The other is to lay on my back on the floor in the center of the Great Room and listen to relaxing music. I like to get right in the middle of the speakers, and prop my legs up on a pillow or an ottoman. The put on some classical music, or perhaps Mannheim Steamroller…

  8. Taking a bath really helps … the problem … mothers rarely get the chance to soak in a tub when they really need it. They have to wait until the kids are in bed. A long walk works well, too. And you can take your kids on a walk, it is just sometimes difficult to find everyone’s shoes and coats and bikes and helmets. Deep breathing, Mom’s can always employ deep breathing and desperate prayer.

  9. The best way for me to deal with stress of a deadline is to sit down and get the work done. I had a deadline recently, but I was having the hardest time getting time alone to gather my thoughts for the direction of the article and time alone to accomplish it. Things were just hectic. But everything finally came together the other day in my mind, and I sat down and got it accomplished … and I felt such relief.

  10. Kim Hackett says:

    Dog time. Puts me in a more relaxed state and better mood every time. Pet them, play with them, walk them, teach them a trick, or just look at them funny and watch them cock their heads trying to figure out what I’m thinking. And if I leave the house for longer than two seconds, my youngest dog will literally smile when the door opens. Therapy for sure.

  11. Peggy Booher says:

    Rachel,
    Some favorite ways for me to de-stress: listen to instrumental music, take a walk or work outside, color, look at beautiful pictures, or call a friend.

  12. Sometimes I walk the dog outside in our lovely, semi-rural area. But the most helpful thing is to sit down and read a good book.

  13. When I am really and truly stressed, I disengage from social media, find something to do besides being near my laptop, and get as far away as possible from what is stressing me.
    When I’m REALLY stressed, I clean my house.
    When I’m TOTALLY stressed, I call my 2 BFFs and they go into action.
    When that fails?
    Well, carbs, baby. Lots of carbs. 😉

  14. I see I’m among friends here … I combat stress by cleaning the house, eating dark chocolate, and coloring, as well.