How Long Do You Hold Onto Stress?

by Bob Rausch, Ph.D.,

As long as I’ve been in business stress has been a topic of discussion. We all have experienced it at one time or another. Some of us deal with it appropriately by realizing the detrimental Let Go of Stresseffects it has on our physical, mental, and emotional well being and take corrective action. Others tend to not deal with it at all, experiencing the negative effects on the body, mind and emotional state. Whether you experience the results or not, the real issue is not that we have stress, but how we deal with it.

A dear friend of mine shared an example he heard about the effects of stress on a group. The speaker held up a glass of water and asked the group how heavy it was. The responses ranged from 20 to 100 grams. The speaker then suggested that the weight didn’t really matter, what mattered was how long you hold up the glass of water. If you held it for a few seconds it wasn’t a problem but holding it for an hour meant your arms were going to be a little sore afterwards. Holding the glass all day however created a much bigger problem. The speaker continued by saying that in each case the weight is the same, but the longer you held it, the heavier it became.

How long do you hold onto negative feelings and stress around specific issues or people that try your patience? Holding onto that stress for a few minutes is fine but holding it for days at a time will be counterproductive. The smart thing to do is to release those feelings as soon as possible. The longer you hold onto the burden the more energy you waste.

In Bill Crawford’s book, All Stressed Up and Nowhere to Go, he says that “Stress is a signal that something needs to change, suffering happens when we don’t make that change.” I would add that stress is a poor use of your personal energy on things that ultimately cause you to suffer. Whatever you give energy to is reinforced in your life. What burden do you need to put down to experience more energy and focus?

“The time to relax is when you don’t have time for it.”  Sydney J. Harris

If you found these tips from Bob Rausch, Ph.D. of value and are a PMP looking to earn PMI PDUs, you might be interested in his self-paced, downloadable courses at


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