You Need a Chisel, Not a Retreat

The best stress relief comes from steady work.

Jessica Wildfire


When you’re stressed, telling yourself to calm down doesn’t always work too well. So I’ve noticed. You think you need a drink. A day off. A road trip. And sometimes you do. But not always.

Relaxing can just make everything worse.

The problem breeds while you’re away. It has kids with your other problems, and they’re all waiting for you now. When you return, you actually feel more tired than before. Why? Because you just spent an entire day trying not to think about something. That takes a ton of invisible energy.

You can always try to relax again. But if that didn’t work, then more relaxing probably won’t help.

Consider a different approach. Block out a chunk of time to tackle the actual problem. Work can relieve stress. At least for me, stress doesn’t go away until I kick the problem in the nuts. An external problem calls for an external solution, not an internal one.

Sometimes, you just have to blast through a dilemma. Simply make a decision and a draft a plan. One you can follow through on. So often, we deplete ourselves by talking our problems to death. Or trying to meditate them away. You don’t need a guru. You need a chisel.

Here’s a few examples.

When you’re worried about having kids…

Should you start a family? Few questions generate as many pro/con lists as this one. Plenty of us never know for sure. One thing helped me make up my mind. My childless by choice friends are adamant. They really don’t want kids, and they’ve always known. It wasn’t a question. The rest of us are open to the idea. So if you’re inclined to have a kid, then do it. Not right away. Just start putting yourself into a situation where it can work. Save up money. Get a better job. Move somewhere conducive to raising a child. Take small but definitive steps and see how they feel.

When you’re worried about death…

Perfectly healthy people think about their end all the time. Why? We know we’ll die, and we want it to suck a little less. A good plan can help. I’ve even started working on my deathbed playlist. Sounds grim…