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Nathanael Garrett Novosel, November 18 2020

What (or Who) Is Your Rock?

Life can be tough.  But even in the best of times, you need support to reach your full potential.  In either case, it helps to have a base of support to help you, whether it's to fall back on when you stumble or to stand on to reach higher than you could otherwise.

So, what or who is your rock?  This is a big question so that you can prepare for tough times.  Many people rely on a routine, a favorite movie, a parent out spouse's cooking, or a genre of music.  For others, it might be burying themselves in work or taking a warm bath.  Without healthy outlets, however, people are susceptible to unhealthy ones such as drugs, excessive partying, reckless sexual behavior, or eating disorders.  It's not surprising that "stress eating" and anorexia often have similar causes; in a chaotic world, people tend to look at what is the most reliable or what conditions in their lives they absolutely can control.  That's why you need healthy options so you don't make the wrong choices as to what to use to feel more grounded when things get difficult.

If you're looking for ways to feel more control or support your life in a positive way, here are a few options that many people find helpful:

Significant Other: If you have a spouse or life partner, stressful times can be much more easily managed.  Often, they can be there for you when your life is hard and vice versa.  You can share responsibilities, talk things out, and plan vacations together.  There's a reason why many people call their spouses "the rock" in the relationship, and it's usually because that person is the steady, calm presence when the other person is stressed.

Exercise or Hobby: Any kind of activity that you can lose yourself in is a good way to relieve the stress of life.  Exercise serves double-duty as both a workout and an activity, but any hobby such as playing music or working on a painting can help you get absorbed in your creativity and take you away from your problems long enough to regain the composure necessary to address them later.  You might feel like it's hard to disengage, but it's better to take some time with a creative outlet to recharge your batteries than to try to push through and burn out.

R&R: A reliable vacation spot, a weekend getaway, or a day spa can be an option for those who want to rest and recover for the stress ahead.  Some new, active vacations can be as stressful as day-to-day life, so the ones in this category are more likely to be predictable and low-stress.  So if you have to choose between a weekend getaway and a 3-month tour of Europe, the latter is going to require much more planning and effort to set up than the former.  Still, if you can manage to schedule something rejuvenating, it's fine, but just remember that whatever you schedule should enable relaxation or recuperation and shouldn't add to your "things to do" list.

Favorite Media: You can see the recurring theme here of something that is reliable and predictable to balance the unpredictable reality you might be facing, and this is no different.  You might have that one movie you've seen a thousand times or watch when you're sick or stressed.  You might have that song that calms you no matter the situation.  Whatever you use to handle life's stress, feel free to use it to keep yourself going.  Just make sure that you don't use it to procrastinate and put off whatever you're supposed to be doing, and it should be a good way to keep you balanced.

Friend or Outing: Yes, it might be cliché to mention that you can hang out with friends or go to "your place" since every sitcom had the meet-up spot like Central Perk or Monk's, but the reliable location is more than just for cost-effective set design.  You can get your favorite food or drink and hang out with your favorite people, and you have minimal risk of issues or disappointment.  It's the reliability of the option that makes it so important to have so that it's there when you really need it.

Reminders (e.g., photos, trophies, memorabilia): Sometimes, you might not have the time to dedicate to R&R or the people available to comfort you.  In that case, you need something to build and sustain faith in a positive future.  For the religious, it could be prayer, church, or religious symbols like the crucifix.  For atheists, it might be photos, paintings, trinkets, awards, or other reminders of past wonderful moments or things to look forward to experiencing.  In either case, these reminders keep your faith and optimism high for when trying times make you question why you're trying so hard.

In any of the above cases, the reasons are three-fold: reduce your stress and uncertainty levels, build the strength necessary to continue on, and—most importantly—keep your perspective.  Make sure that you find and acquire a "rock" in good times so that they're there in bad times.  Just remember that objects and events you can rely on may be there regardless of what you do during the good times, but people and relationships require maintenance and so you have to continue to nurture them or they won't be there when you need them.  Make sure that you care for and appreciate the people in your life so they will (want to) be there in the future.

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Nathanael Garrett Novosel

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