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Lessons in Stress Management - from Eddie the Terrier

Whenever Steve and I are walking with our two Parson terriers, Eddie and Juno, Eddie will be keen to get into any water he sees. Eddie is very keen on being in water – rivers, the sea, ponds, even the deep puddles on our local Common. He is keen to get in and to have a paddle or a swim. After a short while though he starts digging at the water, trying to make a hole as he would when he digs soil. Not surprisingly, he gets more and more frustrated as the water simply keeps filling the “hole”. He becomes almost obsessive and quite stressed about this and so we have to take him out and show him that there are better things to do – trees and grass to sniff, walking to be done. Within seconds he’s happy and relaxed again.

It struck me how similar we people are when it comes to the things that cause us stress. Often, tackling the source of stress is very much like trying to dig a hole in water – it’s a really thankless task. What’s more, the more stressed we are, the more likely we are to carry on doing the task in the same way - which was what stressed us in the first place. It often takes someone else to get us to stop for a moment so that we can look around and remember the good things in our life. Then, we can begin to feel relaxed and think of new and better ways to deal with that task that was causing us such stress – and we’re much better at problem solving and creating when we’re relaxed. I certainly find this helps whenever I get a creative block.

It’s worth noticing whenever we’re feeling stressed or unproductive whether we’re just “digging holes in water”. If so, get away from the task for a bit and look around for better things to do or different ways to achieve what we want. For Eddie all it takes is being shown what else is around him, for me it’s doing something physically active – a walk, some exercise, even sorting out a cupboard. What would it take for you to stop trying to dig holes in water?

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