Stress blog

Eliminate what's not essential

By Edward T. Creagan, M.D. June 13, 2012

Need more help?

If the stress in your life is more than you can cope with, get help right away.

  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
    1-800-273-TALK (8255)
  • Go to the nearest hospital or emergency room
  • Call your physician, health provider or clergy
  • National Alliance on Mental Illness
    1-800-950-NAMI (6264)

From workshops and seminars, I have learned invaluable lessons about trying to survive the stress of balancing work and family. One message is consistent: You must take care of yourself physically, emotionally and spiritually. You must recognize that you have limits.

At a recent presentation, a wise nurse shared the "Oxygen Mask Theory." If a plane loses cabin pressure and you don't put on our own oxygen mask, you will quickly lose consciousness and won't be able to help anyone. Yes, you must take care of yourself or you won't go the distance.

At a recent retreat dealing with end-of-life issues that I attended, a wise advisor encouraged those of us in the audience to eliminate or prune non-essential commitments. Let me give you an example.

Several months ago, I was invited to speak in another country. I was honored but lukewarm about the commitment. When a preliminary invitation finally came in the mail, it was profoundly liberating to simply say, "No, I will not be able to participate." I didn't give any excuses — just gave a straightforward decline. And I felt as if 50 pounds were lifted from my skinny shoulders.

You have options. You have alternatives. You have the right — and the responsibility — to say "no."


Edward T. Creagan, M.D.

Follow on Twitter: @EdwardCreagan

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6 Comments Posted

Jun. 13, 2012