August 25 is National Banana Split Day. That delicious combination of fruit, chocolate and ice cream deserves to be celebrated. Some of us even consider it a healthy treat (fruit and dairy are healthy, right?). Here in the Jackson, MS metro area, temperatures are almost unbearable, so why cool off with a banana split from the Ridgeland Dairy Queen or other local frozen treat establishement. Separately, they are tasty enough. Who doesn’t like chocolate, strawberries, pineapple, ice cream, bananas and whipped cream? However, combined they are a flavor explosion of deliciousness. Stress is similar to a banana split. Most of us experience small, manageable stressors throughout our day. Finding a stain on our shirt as we are heading out the door is frustrating, but not a major catastrophe. Arriving to work a few minutes late may increase your heartrate for a few minutes, but it ususally subsides as you begin your workday. If your battery dies on your cell phone and you left the charger at home, you may feel the tension rise, but you have a phone at your desk so it doesn’t affect your ability to work and get through your day. However, imagine if all of these things happen on the same morning. Your reaction would likely change significantly. Individually, these event were manageable, but combined they have a significant negative effect. You may even feel as if the world is working against you and the day will never get better. While it is true that undesirable events have taken place, allowing them to build only makes it more likely that more negative events will occur. You pick up your dead cell phone and throw it down, breaking it. You take your anger out on your boss, and are reprimanded. You drive too fast going home and get a speeding ticket. Something as simple as a stain or a dead cell phone battery has grown into negative experiences that may have long-lasting effects such as losing a job or higher car insurance premiums. Holding on to those negative thoughts are only going to make the situation worse and cause more stress. Instead of allowing simple unfortunate events snowball into significant life problems, let go of the negative thoughts. Laugh at small problems. Think logically about how to correct them rather than ruminating about how terrible you think the problems are. You can reduce a magnitude of stress by learning to effectively manage the minor stumbling blocks that occur throughout your day.
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