Your Release Valve

By Rev. Paul N. Papas II
2 August 2010

Everyone experiences pressure which causes stress. Stress can be good or bad for you.

An architect would want to know how much stress, measured in pounds per square inch, is planned to be placed on a floor so he would know what materials to use in designing a building. If he used the wrong or inferior materials or not enough of a material the strain caused by too much stress could collapse the building.

A specific response by our body to a stimulus, as fear or pain that disturbs or interferes with the normal physiological equilibrium of an organ is stress. This stress could cause physical, mental, or emotional strain or tension. Worry can cause stress. Excess stress can cause physical harm, such as heart attacks or strokes which could be fatal.

Stress can come from any situation or thought that makes you feel frustrated, angry, nervous, worried, or even anxious. What is stressful to one person may not be stressful to another.

Years ago I remember using a pressure cooker being used very often in the preparation of the family meals. A little water was placed in the bottom of the pot that the food was to be cooked in. The interlocking cover was then secured making sure the rubber gasket was in proper position so it would create a good seal. A release value was placed on top on a specially designed outlet. The heated water inside this closed and secure environment created steam under pressure. This steam under pressure caused the toughest meat to shred and rock hard potatoes to become almost like mush in a rather short period of time.

The amount of pressure built up inside this pressure cooker could blow the cover off the pot and cause serious damage to the ceiling and any people around. Fortunately, this little release valve was designed to whistle as the pressure was building up. The center of the valve had a pot up with three rings on it. If all three rings were showing it mean the pressure needed to be safely reduced quickly. The way to relieve the pressure was to remove it from the hot burner and gently tap the valve with a fork or knife. If the cover where removed before the center pop up was hidden the cover could blow.

In the pressure cooker pressure was used to cause stress to the food which made it easier and safer to eat. However if the pressure was left unchecked it could have caused serious damage to people and things in the vicinity.

People react differently to stressful situations.

Some people bottle up their anger and frustration inside which causes a build up inside them much like the pressure cooker on the hot burner. They may look good on the outside, but they are being torn up on the inside. They need a safe release value.

Some people vent their anger and frustration upon people and things around them similar to the top of the pressure cooker being removed too early causing collateral damage. They need a safe release valve also.

Various symptoms of stress include Feeling irritable, Lack of sense of humor, Having emotional outbursts, Generally feeling upset, Finding it hard to make decisions, Feeling you can’t cope, lacking enough energy to get things done, Finding it very difficult to concentrate, Eating also when you are not hungry, Eating too excessive, Having marked mood swings, Negative self-talk, Thinking about negative things all the time, Having memory problems, Becoming easily confused, not able to concentrate, Feeling like being restless, Feeling dejected at having to wait for something, Low back pain, Muscle tension, Pains in shoulders or neck, Pains in chest, Stomach/abdominal pain, Muscle spasms or nervous tics, Unexplained rashes or skin irritations, Holding breath, Shortness of breath, Unable to sleep or excessive sleep, Diarrhea, indigestion and ‘the gurgles’, ‘Butterflies’ in stomach, Sweating when not physically active, Sweaty palms and ‘Pounding’ or ‘racing’ heart.

There are medications that a doctor can prescribe to help with the symptoms of stress. As with most medications, there can be serious side effects that should be brought to notice and reported immediately to your health care provider, as well as less serious side effects that usually do not require medical attention during the normal treatment. Even if the symptoms are minor or do not have any long impact they should be brought to your health care provider’s attention as soon as possible. There should be a right amount or proportion of what ever you take and balance in your activities. This not only helps to lead a healthier life but also a very safe one. You should always consult a doctor or physician before taking any necessary actions and remember always that prevention is better than cure.

Everyone has a safe release valve.

In this case an once of prevention is worth a pound of cure. It is better to address the cause rather than treat the symptom.

One healthy and inexpensive way to prevent a build up of stress and relieve stress is walking. A half hour to an hour a day walk, at a good pace, will relieve stress, give you a healthy appetite help reduce weight and help you sleep better. Your body, mind, bank account, and the people around you will thank you for walking regularly.

Rev. Paul N. Papas II is a Pastoral Counselor with Narrow Path Ministries (MA and AZ) and Founder of the Family Renewal Center http://www.narrowpathministries.org and http://www.familyrenewalcenteraz.org

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