Sunday, February 6, 2011
A cure for stress
What would you say if I told you Club Ed had a cure for stress?
It’s no secret more of us are stressed in this economic climate. So I went back to reread Dale Carnegie’s classic How to Stop Worrying and Start Living.
Those who have read Carnegie’s books know he is fond of using real life examples to illustrate his points. One such anecdotes was about a man who tragically lost not one, but two young daughters. The bereaved parent could not shake his anxiety and depression, until one day his remaining son asked him to build a boat.
At first the father was in no mood to start the project, but he relented and spent three hours working with his son. To his surprise, those three hours were the first time in months he was free of stress.
“I realized,” the father said, “that it is difficult to worry while you are busy doing something that requires planning and thinking.”
This man went on to build his therapy around doing home repair projects, volunteering, and taking adult education classes. The result? He no longer had time or energy to worry - not to mention the side benefits of fixing up his house, raising money for the Red Cross, and learning a foreign language!
Carnegie attributes this phenomenon to the simple fact that the human mind cannot contain two thoughts simultaneously. As an example, he challenges the reader to think of The Statue of Liberty while planning what they will do the next day. Can’t be done.
I recently had more cause than usual to be stressed. My usual reaction to stress is to curl up and stop doing anything. Normally my evenings and weekends are filled with lifelong learning activities - basketball, dance, writing, and playing instruments. At first I thought I would just drop all those activities. My logic was that by foregoing those unnecessary “distractions” I would be able to focus more of my energy on dealing with the stressful situation. But after reading Carnegie, I realized that was self-defeating behavior. Because when you are actively engaged in learning, your mind can’t think worrisome thoughts.
Prove this to yourself. Pick up an instrument and memorize a piece, or sing, or recite a poem out loud. You will forget your other troubles and finish with a refreshed outlook.
I wanted to share this because even if you are not facing some dire situation in your personal life, you owe it to yourself to keep learning and growing. It doesn’t have to be as ambitious as learning to speak Spanish, but it could be learning a new way to bake bread. It could be welding, or dancing, or playing dulcimer, or any of hundreds of other classes you can find right here.
The benefit of lifelong learning isn’t just about learning a new skill. You will also be meeting some pretty neat new folks who share your interest and passion about the subject. They might even have some insight into your stressful situation!
When you take your next Club Ed class, we can’t guarantee you will be free of stress. But we are pretty sure you will leave just a little bit more relaxed, and maybe a little smarter, too.
See you in class.
Club Ed offers 165 cures for stress. Spring classes are starting now! For information or to sign up, click www.clubed.net, or call 830-895-4386.
Since 1974, the Kerrville Independent School District has offered Community Education (Club Ed). Each year, Club Ed offers more than 400 classes throughout the Texas Hill Country, along with online courses, business and individual training, and after-school and summer camps. Comment online at clubedcomments.blogspot.com, or follow us on Twitter @clubedtx.