I spent last night buried beneath a mound of blankets, a pint of ice cream in hand, watching the first episode of Disney’s new show “Limitless with Chris Hemsworth”. The focusers follows Hemsworth on his journey towards a longer life. His approach? Learn how to masterfully manage stress.
I’m only one episode in, but the plot is compelling (albeit dramatized to the extreme). Stress is a killer, literally. I’m in a “healthy lifestyle” college class right now, and we’re constantly bombarded with reminder that stress is our greatest enemy when it comes to our longterm health. I found it validating to hear the psychologist in the show repeat verbatim what my professor tells us in class: continuous stress and anxiety lays the foundation for the life-threatening illnesses, such as cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. It’s important that we’re aware that stress isn’t just some “cute” burden we all carry through life; stress plays an active role in our stories and has the power to alter—or cut short—our future.
We Choose Our Approach to Stress
I usually take a slow, quiet approach to my life as a way to not only manage stress, but to avoid certain stressful situations altogether. This has worked for me for the past several years, and offered me the chance to dive inward creatively on a whole new level. However, I recognize that a part of me is now seeking opportunities beyond the safe walls of my comfort zone. So, when the show introduced Faith Dickey and her bold approach to stress, I was listening.
Faith Dickey is a world-record breaking highline athlete. She’s one of those superhuman savants who can quiet her mind enough to walk a slackline across sky-high canyons. Her accomplishments are extraordinary, but her method for managing the stress of her job is accessible to us all.
In her interview for “Limitless with Chris Hemsworth”, she expressed the importance of making stress your friend. She said, “I believe that if you avoid all risk, you never learn what you’re capable of.” This point hit home for me. Dickey uses all of the methods I use to manage her stress while walking a slackfline hundreds of feet above the ground—she quiets her mind, uses positive self talk, focuses on one task at a time, etc. However, Faith does something I don’t do (besides obviously performing insane athletic feats)—Faith invites stressful situations into her life.
How Safe is Too Safe?
In my pursuit of less stress, I’ve definitely built some pretty high walls around myself. After establishing some boundaries and weeding out recurring sources of unnecessary stress, I now enjoy my day-today routine and the security it brings me. But when each day is too similar to the last, what unique memories am I storing? What situations will I face that will expose new sides of my personality? What unknown inspirations await, just outside of my line of sight?
Dickey’s encouragement to be open to stressful situations unlocks a world of opportunities. If we avoid stress altogether, we’ll know what each day will bring. But if we invite new, potentially stressful situations into our lives—and we feel prepared to manage any stress that comes our way—we have a bare minimum of new experiences to gain. We don’t have to pick up a dangerous sport; for some of us, this could simply look like taking courses at a community college or trying a new job. For the socially anxious among us, it could be as simple as initiating a conversation with the barista who serves our coffee.
As for myself, I definitely feel a tug to get involved in my local community. I’m a homebody and as introverted as could be, and my secluded lifestyle has been nothing short of rewarding. However, now that I am confident in my abilities to manage anxiety and stress (or at the very least know when I need to ask for help), perhaps there is an adventure waiting for me elsewhere. Maybe it’s time to try something new, even if it’s scary. Just because I’m intimidated at the thought of attending a fitness class or joining a club doesn’t mean I wouldn’t enjoy these activities—if I can walk through the stress, and embrace how good it feels to come out the other side with confidence, I may just carve my path in a whole new, exciting direction.
What’s Your Relationship With Stress Like?
So, I’ll leave you with some questions:
Do I run from stress, or do I walk consciously through my stress?
How can I better channel stress into something constructive?
What’s one stressful situation I can invite into my life, and attempt to go through with more grace and peace of mind?
Thank you for reading, and as always, I hope this post was helpful in some way. I’ll see you in the next one!