Have you ever heard of the Great Boston Molasses Flood? On 15 January 1919, a steel vat containing 8.7 million litres of molten molasses burst. A 10-metre-tall wave of hot syrup drowned people and horses, destroyed buildings, and crushed freight trains, wagons, and cars. The enormous tank, 15 metres tall and 73 metres around, had been poorly designed. Company officials had reacted to the constantly leaking stress cracks by repainting the tank to match the colour of the molasses; their philosophy was ‘out of sight, out of mind’.
These officials knew the vat was dangerous, but they did nothing about it. The disaster, described by one author as the ‘Dark Tide’, killed 21 people and injured 150 others.
One of the first things in dealing with stress is not to cover it up, but to recognise it and do something about it.
Sure, stress management can be tricky, and while most of us know that good nutrition is an important soldier in the battle against excessive chronic stress, it’s just one piece of the puzzle. The great news is that there are numerous lifestyle variables and tactics that you can use to help manage stress.
Here is one that I have found helps – easy, practical, and FUN! What it is, is something that is “easy to do and easy not to do” and it is often an intentional conscious decision, particularly at the start. So, what is this stress buster?
Practice Gratitude… Too much ongoing stress can make even the most optimistic, positive-minded person irritable, anxious, distracted, intolerant, and ungrateful. When you are knee-deep in stress, it is easy to be negative, which is the exact opposite type of mindset you need to be resilient. Instead, you think about all your “problems” and all that’s “wrong” with your life and the world and you start using language such as “everything” or “everyone” when in fact it is most likely one or two.
Talk about a huge waste of energy. Take time each day to practice gratitude. Think about all the awesome things, people, and experiences in your life. Not only will this activity give you appropriate perspective, keeping a gratitude journal has been shown to produce sustained reductions in perceived stress and lead to significantly lower levels of stress hormones.
A great resource to get you going is found at https://www.actionforhappiness.org
Every month at actionforhappiness, a calendar is available to help “get in the groove”. This month is “Joyful June”. There is even an app to download to your smartphone. The app is like having a little personal action coach in your pocket who:
- Gives you friendly ‘nudges’ with an action idea each day
- Sends you inspiring messages to give you a boost
- Helps you connect & share ideas with like-minded people
Why not give it a go, share it with friends and family, do it together!
IOPC Chaplaincy Coordinator – Prisons
“A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.”