A Breakthrough Regarding Stress

Sometimes I ask my most high achieving but nevertheless relaxed and laid back upperclassmen to tell me the secret to their easygoing ways. (No, it’s not drugs or anything like that!) They live differently, and I wanted to know why.

A student tells me her secret:

She realized during her freshman year of college that all of her stress came from thinking about her work deadlines, not actually the work itself. She loved her classes, her projects, and her papers. She even enjoyed studying. Doing the work was joyful, but thinking about the work in advance made her crazy. The deadlines overwhelmed her. The potential grade report overwhelmed her.

Then she reminded herself that the work isn’t stressful. The stress resulted from everything else she let herself think about surrounding that work.

Work is fun. Thinking about work isn’t always fun. It’s better to work than think about work. 

I tell my daughter about this conversation, and she expresses a face of serene revelation. She says, “Yes! Yes! I’m a great worker. I love the work. I don’t need to have stress about my work. I can just do the work and stop thinking about everything else.”

Right, child! Right!

It’s such a simple shift in perspective to know that work isn’t stressful. Once we identify what’s making us experience the stress, we can relegate those thoughts to the background and start enjoying our work.

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