Life Here

February 19, 2019 By Dick Spies

Managing Our Stress

Can we remove stress and anxiety from our lives?

Here is my suggestion for a lifelong system for controlling anxiety and eliminating stress. During our recent fire drill, many PVE folks appeared stressed in varying degrees. This inspired me to share my personal method of staying happy by avoiding stress. I call it my “stress parameter” system, and it’s not complicated. It creates an automatic response to worrisome thoughts or events.

Here’s an example: The fire alarms rang, and we were told to evacuate to Rawlinson Hall. There’s a fire in the grass around PVE. The PVE staff and fire and police departments are on the scene. The experts, to deal with the emergency, are doing everything possible. If I worry about the situation, will it help in any way? No, of course not! It would only create stress for me. Over time, anxiety and stress can have a very negative effect on our bodies and our daily happiness.

SO, when the fire alarm sounds, we quickly gather our necessities and head for the hall. There, we learn the details of the fire. Our stress parameters kick in immediately, but we don’t allow the situation into our “parameters.” We think happy thoughts and, possibly, sing a song. (We actually DID sing to Mila, who was sitting behind us.)

We mentally hold our arms out straight in front of us. During the event, we allow the things we can do something about into that arena and eliminate the thoughts we can’t control.

Another example: When I served on a destroyer in World War II, my battle station was a machine gun on the fantail. While operating off the Japanese mainland, our lookouts spotted numerous Japanese mines that had broken loose. (Mines are bombs, set to explode upon contact with the hull of a ship.)

We would peel away from the fleet and my job was to shoot and blow them. After sunset, the lookouts could no longer spot them. Living in the crew quarters below the waterline, we had a decision to make. Would it help if we worried about hitting a mine at night?

The answer is obvious — we slept soundly. Please give this system a try. It takes practice, but it DOES work.


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