Chronic stress is a nasty beast. Stress elevates cortisol and chronically elevated cortisol contributes to disease and illness in a major way (not too mention making you pudgy).
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Americans are working longer and longer hours, making it harder to manage lifestyle to reduce stress. In my opinion, a big part of managing stress effectively is doing your best to optimize what you can (sleep, overtraining, diet), and releasing what you can’t (workload in the office, politics).
Back in college, arrangements at school forced me to spend a fair amount of time with a guy I didn’t like a whole lot. One of the things I didn’t like about him was his overuse of a phrase I found particularly grating. Whenever he didn’t want to deal with an issue, he’d proclaim “I’m over it.” It meant the conversation had concluded and the topic at hand no longer concerned him. Though I found it entirely aggravating, I think it is an incredibly useful tool for handling stress.
When you work on a project in the office, it’s easy to let the tensions built up in the cubicle or boardroom follow you out the door. You find yourself especially irritated by crawling traffic, and notice extra tension in your shoulders all the way to bedtime (and even beyond). This is not good. You do not want to waste your leisure time wound up about issues beyond your control at the moment. Take a page from the guy I don’t like playbook; Spend a minute reminding yourself that you’re over it before you even get to your car in the parking lot.
Stress: Release vs. Defeat
We’ve all heard of the “fight or flight” response – the way we handle the acute stress we feel in situations like when a bear has you at gunpoint (I think I got that right).
As Chris Kresser points out, psychologists have a term for how we handle chronic stress: the “defeat response.”
We don’t want our stressors to wear on us all day, and we don’t want them to beat us; we want to release our stress.
This is why I say “I’m over it” to myself instead of saying “whatever.” To me, “whatever” applies when the situation is hopeless or beyond saving. “I’m over it” is simply recognizing that the stressor is not important to you.
What is important?
Ten years from now, you will still care whether you have a spare tire and a pharmacy in your bathroom mirror. You will not care who won the argument about the best course of action for some supply chain issue in a Tuesday afternoon meeting a decade prior. In other words, you’ll be over it.
Make it conscious and current, release your stress and say “I’m over it.” You’ll be happier, healthier (and prettier) for it.
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