Teachers, parents… During the past couple of years, much anxiety has been added to our lives, especially dealing with whether schools would meet in person or virtual, whether to wear masks or not, and many other stressors.

However, the weight of a glass with water can be used as an analogy for stress.

“How heavy is this glass of water?”

That was a simple question posed by a professor to his students.

The students began to guess. 8 oz? 12? 16?

Their answers all received a shake of the professor’s head because the lesson wasn’t about physics. It was about stress.

With a gentle sincerity, he told the class, “The absolute weight of the glass doesn’t matter. It depends on how long I hold onto it. If I hold it for a minute, nothing happens. If I hold it for an hour, my arm will begin to ache. If I hold it all day long, my arm will feel numb and paralyzed. While the weight of the glass hasn’t changed, the longer I hold onto it, the heavier it becomes.”

Nods of agreement filled the room, and the professor continued.

“The stresses and the worries of life are like this glass of water. If you think about them for a little while, there’s no problem. You think about it for a little bit longer… it begins to hurt. You think about them all day long, and you’ll feel paralyzed, incapable of doing anything.”

Placing the glass on his desk, the professor concluded, “Always remember: put the glass down.”

The moral of the demonstration: Carrying the burden of the past memories—or fears about the future—causes unnecessary pain. Find a way to lighten the emotional load; otherwise, you’ll be weighed down and unable to move freely.

Letting go sounds easy in theory. However, it’s often easier said than done. PTSD, chaotic homes and unfair systems make stress next to inescapable. Even when it’s difficult, there are some proven ideas for “putting the glass down” Things like:

• Writing out your negative thoughts

• Calling a supportive person

• Taking a walk in nature

• Cuddling with a furry friend

• Listening to empowering, uplifting music

• Just doing something for fun

No matter what glass of water you are holding onto at the moment, setting it aside—even momentarily, whenever possible—might be the best way to overcome it. After all, everyone deserves a lighter load these days.

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