You’ve heard the saying “It was the straw that broke the camel’s back.” and you probably recognize that it refers to a slowly increasing load or burden that eventually crushes the one carrying it, but have you ever given the saying much thought? Have you ever considered whether it applies to you? Or perhaps you’ve been through an experience that could be described by this prophetic witticism. Our modern society is very good at pushing the idea that if you’re not flitting around like a hummingbird, involved in everything, and severely stressed by it all; you’re not normal. I say if that’s normal, strive for abnormality!
Not only does this type of lifestyle put you at risk of hypertension, stroke, and mental disorder, but it will bring on dietary disorders because you refuse to take the time for a proper, healthy diet. Eating on the run means grabbing snacks and fast food that are laden with fat and cholesterol and deficient in the vitamins, minerals and proteins your body needs to function properly.
Like the camel and his load, it can sneak up on you; it’s only straw, one or two more won’t matter. But eventually a breaking point is reached and you collapse under the load. You don’t carry straw, but you do take on tasks. When someone says, “Will you help with this?” or “Can you do this for me?” or “Would you like to join our group?” give it some thought before responding: where you will get the time? Are you willing to drop something else? Is it something you truly want to do and will put your best effort into? How will it affect others in your family?
If you are a parent, it is easy to overburden yourself AND your kids. So many modern parents think that children are just short adults who need to have every moment scheduled, planned and occupied with activities or they’ll get bored. NOT SO! A child’s work is play. If you are forever telling them where to go and what to do they will not develop imagination, creativity and self-reliance. Sports and activities are wonderful things; when enjoyed in moderation and if the child *wants* to participate. Resist the urge to redress your deficient childhood vicariously through your children by pushing them into every sport and club available.
The Stress Key
Prioritizing is the key to avoiding stress. You must decide which things are really important and which are less so. Sometimes we lose sight of what is truly important until it has slipped away from us. The classic example is the workaholic Dad who is never home because he’s forever working in order to provide his family with their every desire. In the end this family is always better off if he is more involved with the family, even if that means the kids don’t have the latest craze in $300 tennis shoes.
Don’t be the camel: allowing everyone else to pile their load on you. Be sure *you* retain control of your activities, don’t let others pressure you into things with guilt trips for not getting on board with their projects. Enjoy life while you’re still young enough to actually enjoy it. Working yourself half-to-death for the sake of your “Golden Years” rarely works out the way you planned it because the stress and anguish you go through to get it leaves tracks that prevent you from actually enjoying it when you get there.
Don’t be slothful; spending your time as a sofa-wart watching “reality” shows is not a good thing either. Experience real reality, get out and do things with your family or friends. But take some time to enjoy what you are now, what you have now. Don’t shoulder everything aside as you trudge along under your load of straw in hopes that one day the load will be lifted and you’ll be rewarded for your unwavering diligence.