When Small Stressors Stress Us Out

I woke up a little bit late for my workshop.

I jumped in the shower, got dressed and rummaged through my suitcase looking for the hair gel I knew I put in there.

It wasn’t there. I went out to the car to see if it had fallen on the floor. I looked in my day bag.

I couldn’t find it.

I needed my hair gel. I didn’t want to blow my hair dry and without the gel, my hair would frizz, fall in my face, and look like a dried up mop.

Maybe that's my interpretation of a bad hair day, but I wasn’t interested in feeling that way. I wanted my gel.

As I began to race around looking in places I was sure I had put my hair gel, my stress (cortisol) level began to escalate and my mind began to get agitated.

I spoke in an agitated way to my boyfriend, thinking if I got mad at him, he would magically know where my hair gel was. As if he even knew that heir gel was a thing. He only smiled at my exasperation.

I knew what was happening because of my yoga practice.

I was stressing myself out over my hair gel. I was letting a minor thing, in relation to the scope of life, dictate my emotions. I was not relaxing into the experience, as I often tell my students to do. I was tensing and trying too hard to find the hair gel!

The stress, or escalating cortisol levels, were not going to help me in this situaltion, the stress was going to make the hair gel harder to find.

As my cortisol levels rose, I became more frenzied, I couldn’t think clearly and my go to attitude became anger. I got flustered which inhibited my ability to think clearly, and I couldn’t remember if I had even brought the hair gel with me, when I knew I had.

Having yogic tools under my belt, I knew that if I stopped, breathed and calmed down, my cortisol levels would lower. The hair gel, who knew nothing of my stress and was calmly laying wherever it was, could only be used if I could release my agitation, and calmly remember where I put it.

I struggled with slowing down. Slowing down isn’t doing something efficiently by my habitual way of thinking. Fast is better. Fast gets the job done quickly, allowing me more time to get more done and remain busy so I could tell myself being busy is to gain more time. 

Is that really how it works? Instead of rushing around getting upset because my hair gel was missing, maybe if I slowed down, I could become rational and calmly remember where I had put my hair gel.

I relaxed. I softened my shoulders, began to quietly breathe, settled down and went back to square one.

I remembered packing the hair gel in my suitcase. I could clearly see myself packing it the day before.

I went back to my suitcase, patiently dug around in my bag where I had quickly looked before, and there it was. It had settled a little further down into the abyss than I had previously searched.

I slathered the gel in my hair, walked out the door and calmly rocked my day.


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