…I HAVEN’T PACKED!This situation would not startle a seasoned traveler or business traveler who is used to living out of a suitcase. But let’s add some drama:
My (International) Flight (For The Vacation I’ve Been Planning For The Past Year) Leaves Tomorrow and I Haven’t Packed (or Set Up International Services On My Phone, My Passport May Not Be Up To Date, and I Don’t Have Transportation To The Airport)
Now how do you feel – anxious, overwhelmed, discouraged, angry or doomed? These and other emotions overtake us in situations like this, and it’s natural! After all, they are simply expressions of the chemical reactions that take place in our body when it is put under stress. So here’s the inside scoop on what goes on in your body during stressful moments (you must read the next paragraph in your most studious, nerdy voice in order to grasp the content):
There’s a gland that sits below the brain called the hypothalamus. It acts as a bridge between the nervous system (which sends signals throughout the body) and the endocrine system (which manages hormones). The hypothalamus passes along the signal from the nervous system to the adrenal glands of the endocrine system, telling them to release adrenaline and cortisol (fight or flight hormones) increasing heart rate and blood flow. You begin to breathe faster in order to move blood quickly. Even your digestive system gets involved, pumping sugar into the bloodstream to provide energy for an incoming flight or fight response.
Sounds like a lot for packing luggage.
But what happens when a majority of your situations in life are this urgent? Instead of a flight, it’s a project that’s due and you aren’t prepared. Or maybe it’s a bill due and you don’t have the funds to pay it. Or you’ve been given a less than ideal prognosis and you do not have your affairs in order. The emotions bear down on you and you begin to exhibit behaviors that you think will manage the emotions you have, but they only prove to be destructive. Your body even begins to show signs of distress such as digestive trouble, problems sleeping, muscle tension, pain, headaches, or fatigue because we do not engage in an actual physical response to manage the stress. We hold it in and stress hormones over time can weaken the immune system and overwhelm other body systems causing a decline in health.
What’s the solution? Forget the packing! Grab a week’s worth of underclothes, toiletries, and your passport and just go along for the ride! Sounds doable, but it doesn’t translate well to that project or bill that’s due tomorrow. Really, what do you do when life’s situations are beyond the point of correction but you still need a positive outcome?
- Don’t give up. Turn those negative emotions into fuel to pull yourself through.
- Be creative. There are usually alternatives, plea bargains, or some way out.
- Just accept the “L” and keep moving forward. Don’t wallow in the situation, learn from it and move on.
- Remind yourself that the situation is temporary.
None of these replaces the obvious solution of planning ahead, but let’s be honest, at some point in life, maybe even some point every week, we find ourselves with our backs against the wall and we want to avoid failure. Sometimes failure is inevitable but it doesn’t have to be the end. There is much to learn from a failed situation, so don’t get caught up too long in the negative emotions. The brokenness of failure offers building blocks for the future; use them.
So if you’re like me, trying to stay one step ahead of a deadline, remain calm, pray and put a plan into action. Make good use of those stress hormones and move any way possible toward the goal. Faith without works is dead and continued exposure to stress hormones without constructive action might yield the same results.