When I was young I was obsessed with Greek mythology, the Gods and the monsters fueling my imagination in every way possible. I still remember being captivated by Jason and the Argonauts plowing the field with fire-breathing oxen, and sowing dragons-teeth that caused a stone army to appear… Exciting stuff.
Now I sometimes find myself referring to these stories in my life. Well, not so much Jason and the Argonauts because my life isn’t quite that exciting, but more like Sisyphus, who is forced to roll that stone up the hill only to have it rolling back down again (sounds familiar?), and of course, Atlas.
Who is Atlas you ask?
And do you care?
Well, if you care about understanding stress (and even if you don’t), I think you should care about Atlas, even just a little.
Atlas was a Titan, a God, who led the Titans in a rebellion against Zeus. That obviously didn’t end well (short version), and he was condemned to bear the heavens on his shoulders. That is quite a load.
Another version is that he carries the world on his shoulders. Which in turn is where the phrase, ‘carrying the world on your shoulders’ comes from.
Maybe it doesn’t look like Greek Mythology and modern day stress have a lot in common at first glance, but if you look closer; you will be reminded that myths were used a lot for educational purposes. And with the phrase ‘carrying the world on his shoulders’ you get an inkling about what Greek Mythology and stress has to do with each other. Also, this is what we look like when we’re under stress. Hunched shoulders, bent over, our head forced down…
The reason I like Atlas is because his representation of stress, which is based on the definition of stress (one of them) that i favor.
The more I read about stress, and the more I learn about my own journey (struggle, battle, war, take your pick) with stress and overwhelm, the more I see that stress is all about the perception of the load we carry. Perception as in our understanding of an issue.
This is then why a simple deadline can make one person thrive, while someone else might fall apart. Their anxiousness is due to their perception of the pressure the deadline. They simply cannot cope.
It is important to understand that the stress is always real to us and this is also why some people seem to deal with an issue so easily, while another person might fall apart.
In the results of a ‘skillsoft’ study of 3000 people, the top 5 work stresses are:
Sounds familiar? Just a normal workday, right… There might not be too much you can do to change your workload, or the deadlines, but there are ways that you can change the perception of your load.
Look at patterns in your life and try to spot situations that made you feel stressed, patterns that seems to repeat themselves. Knowing yourself is always the first step in understanding any issues that arise in our lives.
Are you trying so hard to please the boss or co-workers, that you automatically say yes to anything? A can-do’ attitude is hopefully noted, but be honest about it, at least with yourself. Remember, you’re the only one who is in control of your life, you have to take responsibility and be accountable every time you say yes. You can’t blame anyone else if you said yes all the time, because, well, you offered.
2.You can’t change other people, only how you react to them.
Unfortunately, this one is so hard… There is always someone who will annoy us, proclaim that they are better than us, are doing better than us, people who get away with things we wouldn’t dream about doing…You wish you could gag them, make them choke, shut them up, or make them see sense. But, you can’t (because shoving actual things down peoples throats are illegal and you could go to jail which would be very stressful). You gonna have to nut out your triggers for yourself here as well. I often see the advice that you can ‘ask someone who knows you well, to point out the things that seem to set you off’, but I think that sounds like a recipe for disaster myself… Truth can be hard, so be gentle.
Break down what others are saying into what you’re actually hearing. Something is hitting a nerve within you. Is it your beliefs about yourself that is being challenged? Also, some people are just so different to us, we will just find them annoying. And this brings me to my last point…
3) Walk away.
Go for a walk. Get some physical distance between you and the ‘problem’. Get in a different space, a different environment (different planet even?)
“If you saw Atlas, the giant who holds the world on his shoulders, if you saw that he stood, blood running down his chest, his knees buckling, his arms trembling but still trying to hold the world aloft with the last of his strength, and the greater his effort the heavier the world bore down upon his shoulders - What would you tell him?"
I…don't know. What…could he do? What would you tell him?"
― Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged
Susy Egneus -
Founder of Bodyworkz, sharing thoughts, facts and ideas about living a stress free life, and what mobile chair massage is all about!