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Stress Isn’t Forever

Understanding how to react to stress, knowing it is for a finite amount of time.

Stuck in traffic.

We have to do some major rearranging of our apartment this week because of a bug infestation. One of my kids–who is already fragile–was getting pretty distressed about it.

“Yes, it’s wildly inconvenient,” I told her, “And I know you don’t have much emotional margin right now. But it’s a finite problem. It’s annoying, and it will be unpleasant, and, well, we’ll get through it.”

“Yeah, but I bet [my brother] is going to be a jerk all week, too,” the kid replied, sourly. The sibling in question is in tech week for a musical, which will mean he will be tired from late-night rehearsals, too.

I nodded. “That’s possible. And still, it’s just a week. The week will pass, and we know it will be stressful, and we will find ways to cope. We can do that. It’s not forever.”

Read More: 8 Ways to Calm Down Right Now

It’s amazing how many things aren’t forever, though they feel that way at the time. That traffic jam isn’t forever, and not knowing how a situation will turn out isn’t forever, and even suffering isn’t forever. Forever is something else, something bigger than fears and feelings.

I suggested to my child that the how-we-handle-it of stress is worthy of more attention than the stressor itself, since a sinful response can have a far longer-lasting impact than inconvenience, uncertainty or pain. That’s worth thinking about when a problem feels like it’s taking forever.

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