“I’m tired of being stressed all the time! I just wish I can have a stress free life!”
“Stop blaming the waves and fix your boat!”
“Huh?”

And then my wise meditation instructor explained it beautifully. He said life is a sea or an ocean, deep and meaningful for those willing to explore it. Stress is like the waves of the sea, sometimes calm and manageable, other times high and challenging. If you’re embarking upon a sailing journey, you must be prepared for some turbulence. The stronger your boat is, the less you’ll get affected. Don’t blame the waves because, let’s face it, without them you’ll never move forward.

I honestly feel bad for ‘Stress’. It’s so misunderstood. It’s kind of like that annoying beeping sound inside the car that drives you crazy, yet compels you to wear your seatbelt just to make it stop! And it’s when you choose to ignore it, you end up driving like a red-eyed maniac; impatient, cranky, suffocated, with your hair standing on end. The beeping sound’s job is to keep you safe, just like Stress’ job is to keep you productive and focused. Cursing it, running away or even enduring it silently is not the solution. You need to do something about it. You need to listen and put on the seat belt! (You get the metaphor, right?)

We all have a list of priorities and we tend to worry when something goes wrong there, whether it be work, kids, finances, relationships, or even a seemingly trivial thing like running out of chocolates. God knows that alone can cause me a major anxiety attack. No matter what the reason is, as long as it annoys you enough to take action, that’s the kind of stress you want in your life! And you’ll believe me the next time you see a teenager watching TV carelessly and all you wanna do is yell “You have a final exam tomorrow! Please BE STRESSED!”

The Tense Element
I wish life was all squishy and pink, but unfortunately it’s not. Stress has a dark, ugly side, as does everything else in this world. The number one culprit for neurotic stress is living in the future or past tense instead of the present moment. Reliving a hurtful memory or worrying about the first day of a new job is nothing like the annoying beeping sound in the car, simply because there’s nothing to do about it. There’s no metaphorical seat belt here! You hear women fretting over a lost romance and asking, “How can he leave me?” For God’s sake, get over it, it’s been six years! When we’re anxious about the future or sad about the past, we are not living in the ‘now’. The stress leaks out to poison our present and we end up suffering twice for the same incident. And you know what, that’s just bad math! Stress can’t solve a problem, unless there’s an actual problem to solve. (You see why it’s so misunderstood?)

The Pressure Of Pretense
“My picture never got any likes on Instagram!”
“I’m trying to reach 4,000 followers on Twitter!”
“No one shared my post on Facebook! How can that be?”

We have fallen into the trap! The social media trap, to be more specific. Do you know how many people stress over that? The ‘likes’, ‘comments’ and ‘follows’ have invaded our realities and distorted our self-worth. It’s what people think that matters now, not what we truly are, and so we hover on social apps, compare and obsess till we reach the highest levels of anxiousness. It’s that kind of stress that causes wrinkles and dull skin if you care to know. So do yourself and your complexion a favor and stop over-sharing and putting your life on display. The good stress only cares about your wellbeing, and it doesn’t give a crap what other people think.

The ‘Drag’
This one is climbing the charts for being the main face of ugly stress. Dragging your feet and postponing important matters literally bends your back and weighs down on your heart with an invisible, yet very heavy burden. It could be scheduling that dentist appointment you’re dreading or facing those feelings you’re striving so hard to block out. You can’t wish your stress away. It has no ‘delete’ button, but boy does it have a lot of storage room, and when it piles up on you, good luck crawling out from underneath it. Deal with your ‘to-dos’ instead of dragging them out. You know those people who are always smiling, hardly binge and never get zits? Yeah, they do what needs to be done.

No one expects you to have your act together all the time. You can do the ‘ugly stress and drama’ thing every once in a while because hello!-You’re human.