When I look back at this photo it brings back a lot of memories.
Like most people, I never really thought about “stress” or “resilience” for most of my life.
Nor did I ever really connect my current, or future, health to those things.
Heck, before I was 35 I didn’t even think about that stuff. I mean, really, I was “young” and “able” and that is just part of life, right?
In these aspects, and many others honestly, I operated on autopilot.
Mindset and Stress
Unfortunately, these behaviors and beliefs create fundamental lifestyle habits which are hard to break and set up a flawed and, if not changed, very unhealthy physical condition and mindset.
Well even though I was supposedly pretty intelligent, I didn’t know what I didn’t know and consequently, I wasn’t open to hearing about it even if I had the chance of someone trying.
I mean really, no one talks about this stuff.
No one teaches us about it or its effects on our physical and mental self. When I was growing up, for a guy to talk about stress affecting you, your health, and needing a rest, was taboo… it meant that you are weak, soft, cant “man-up”.
I was taught that when, not if, you get knocked down, you suck it up, you get back up, you keep going and keep trying, period. Well, stress wears on your mental and physical health like the Colorado River wears on the ground in Arizona… you’ve heard of the Grand Canyon, right?
We know now that this is not true, and when managed properly, stress can be used to our advantage.
We’ve come a long way!
The build up of stress is a slow and eroding process that eventually wears you down and breaks you if you do not learn to redirect and relieve it.
Fortunately for me, I learned how to direct and handle my stressors in time. Despite being taught and trained for years to take it on and continue to take action no matter what the consequences were to my health.
I learned my ways through 12 years of multi-sport competition, 16 years of academics, 6 years active duty military, and 10+ years of a quickly advancing professional corporate career in the petroleum and aluminum industries. And it all came crashing in on me in my late thirties. In prior years I had worked through many “opportunities” to handle and recover heavy stress loads.
In a period of a little more than 5 years I lived through:
- 6.7 Northridge earthquake
- Got married and was instantly stepdad to 2 young kids
- Bought a house and then remodeled the house
- My wife got pregnant and we had a beautiful daughter
- My position at work phased out
- Sold our house
- Moved across country (with step family= HUGE legal issue!)
- Bought a new house
- Started a new job
- Got divorced
- Lived as a single parent
- Eventually my position at the new company phased out
- I then sold my house
- Found a new job in a new industry
- Moved back across country from Kentucky to California
- Started my new job
- And reestablished life in California as a single parent
Did you catch all that?
My potential breaking point was my separation and divorce. It could have gone either way. At this point I was very overweight as you see in the photo above, I was hardly sleeping, distracted, no appetite, my pride and confidence had been stripped away.
In order to survive, I decided to control what I had control over, my thoughts and my actions. All I could do to save my identity was to be my true authentic self; that is ALL I control.
I decided to act in a way that prioritized my daughter; I did whatever it took to be friendly during the separation, for the time being I cut out all alcohol, I got active and exercised every day, I ate better, I focused on time with my daughter, and I focused on my mental health by reading self-help and improvement books and going to counseling.
As difficult as some periods in our lives can be, they also provide opportunities for us to course correct -should we recognize and be able to adjust. I will always be forever grateful that I found my way though these times.
Dedicated to your health and wellness,