Every now and again, whether down to luck or something else, things can be plain sailing. You make some plans, you take action and hey presto, you get the desired outcome.

Other times, life happens, throwing you a curve ball, or several, knocking you off balance.

A good friend of mine was hit with a major blow at about 00:03 on New Year’s Day and before she had the chance to fully recover, another big problem landed on her plate, averaging once a month so far. Not surprisingly she’s just been diagnosed with stress.

Recently I found myself buckling under various pressures that had somehow crept up on me over the last few weeks, and all of a sudden my brain was scrambled and I felt like I was inside a pressure cooker that was bubbling dangerously close to the brim.

What happens what you reach bursting point? My friend tends to implode, and fall apart internally. I’d be more likely to explode and take casualties with me! Either way, it’s a bit messy and painful.

There are three things that we need more than ever, when life gets tough:

Release

Not a magic wand that makes all your problems disappear (although that would be nice) but a way of releasing the mental and emotional pressure that’s built up, to free up some room, to breathe and think. Something that takes the edge and immediacy off the pressure. As a bonus, simply lightening the load can sometimes make you feel a little recharged and more able to deal with things and take on life again.

For me it can be having a extra long, hot shower, a walk outside somewhere high up on a cold day, being by the sea on a windy day (which is a bit hard to do these days as apparently I’m living about the furthest point inland in the UK) or singing my heart out at church on Sunday morning – the steam just pours out.

A bigger room

Problems have a way of hemming us in, and when we’re stuck in a small space, whether physically or in our heads, everything seems to cave in and sooner or later I’m climbing the walls.

A good listener opens up their space for you to share, creating a bigger room to think, untangle your thoughts and maybe move around and explore the issue from different angles. And their room might have a window to shine a few
rays into your four walls.

Laughter

“Even if there is nothing to laugh about, laugh on credit.” ~Author Unknown

It’s got to be the best way of releasing tension. I was talking with a group of friends recently where quite frankly we’d all had an awful week. Then we started talking about things we were grateful for, and they were all things that made us laugh.

I have a collection of videos on my phone of Oliver doing really silly things, like walking round with a bin on his head “being a wo-bot”, or singing:

Twinkle twinkle chocolate bar
My dad drives a rusty car
Pull the lever, push the choke
Off we go, cloud of smoke
Twinkle twinkle chocolate bar
My dad drives a rusty car

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