Stress management has been on my mind so much in the last year, as I have created this business from scratch. It's easy to get overwhelmed on a daily basis and I can certainly attest I have felt the crushing weight of the burdens I carry. That weight has almost broken me and deterred me from this path. As I work with our Participants, this is also a major theme for most. SGT Joe Snuffy, feeling overwhelmed by the fact that he has 80 pounds to lose and he just can't fathom how he is going to accomplish this huge feat. SPC Sally Joe feeling like there is just no way she will ever be able to fit a workout in her day when she is a single mother of 2, working 2 part-time jobs, a full load of college courses, and has drill this weekend. We all bear these huge loads of stress on a daily basis. Each of our burdens comprised of different things, but most of us bending with that burden, feeling the crushing weight every single day.
If you have been in the military and had to do long distance rusks with 50 pounds or more on your back, you have learned some "tricks" to be able to bear this load better and reduce suffering. I am going to use some of these tricks to give you some tips to deal with the proverbial burdens of stress we bear day to day.
#1: ADJUST YOUR RUCK. BALANCE AND HIGH CARRY. The first thing we learn when rucking is that it is IMPERATIVE to balance your ruck load right. Put the heaviest item in the bottom center and stack the weight in a high balance. You want as much weight in the center as possible and for the load to be balanced. We also want to carry the weight set on our hips, not our shoulders. This allows our center of gravity to be lower and to not have to carry the weight pushing us down on our shoulders but balanced in the center of our body (our hips). What the heck does this mean for our stress burden? We have to PRIORITIZE. This is a huge mistake we all make with dealing with stress. We just spread out our efforts to do as much as we can all at once. The greatest, most accomplished leaders in history were very good at this. They carried HUGE burdens, leading countries, huge Army's and great nation, but they all did one thing: they focused their efforts on a few things they were very good at doing, and delegated or discarded the rest. This is hard to do. We all want to accomplish a ton. Take a full course load. work 2 jobs. Go to those social events. You need to pick 5 things that you can distribute 100% of your focus on and the rest will need to be put on the back burner, handed to someone else or discarded altogether. You will find very quickly that focusing 20% of your energy on 5 tasks rather 1% of your energy on 100 tasks is much more efficient and satisfying. Plus, bonus, you get tasks achieved quicker, and you can move on to the next one. I start my morning every day and choose just 5 things on my to-do list and focus only on accomplishing those 5 things that day. That way, at the end of the day I will be more likely to feel satisfied that I actually got something done! rather than looking back at 30 projects that I worked on partially, but never really completed any of them.
#2: YOU PROBABLY DON'T NEED THAT. One of the fastest lessons you learn in the military when rucking is that "I probably don't need that". Each item has to be evaluated for your true NEED and WILLINGNESS TO CARRY. In life, sometimes we get caught up in responsibilities that we are not really passionate about, we feel obligated to do, or we just damn well hate to do. I had this conversation recently with my sister. Two of her kids were on two separate softball teams. She was running herself ragged running them back and forth each to two different locations, practice schedules, and game schedules. Then they got picked for all starts and would be TRAVELING to different cities for games! I had to intervene. She needed to seriously take inventory of her ruck and really evaluate "Do you really need that?". Sometimes we get caught up in the "doing" and never evaluate if the "doing" is that valuable. After evaluating the stress this was causing her, and the fact that her girls were not going to be professional softball players, and why the heck would they need to be traveling all over the state playing softball games, they declined the all start season. It was such a burden lift! Sure, you will probably disappoint, even piss off some people you have to say "no" too, but you can only carry so much, and you need to really evaluate everything in your life and ask yourself "do I really need this?".
#3: TOUGHEN YOUR FEET. The last lesson learned when first beginning to ruck in the military is nothing will help more than just putting miles on those feet and toughen them up. You need to create callouses. This requires putting the time and effort in and actually getting those blisters. Procrastination is the ultimate avoidance of blisters. We all have a million reasons why we can't start something that we know we need to start. It's summer vacation, I can't start working on my diet now, there are too many ice cream opportunities. It's almost the holidays, I don't want to miss out on all that holiday candy, food, etc. I will just wait for a month after New Years to join a gym, it's too crowded in there in January, etc. If you never put a mile on your feet, you will never toughen them up and put some of those miles behind you. START NOW. YES NOW. Sign up for the next .22 Caliber Group. Stop putting it off. You will always have reasons to not begin. There is nothing more important than your health. Nothing. Until you realize that, you will always be standing at the beginning of the trail, pack on the ground, standing there convincing yourself why you can't start. If you are not healthy, you won't exist. Your life will pass you by. You will miss out on the life you could have had. You cannot care for others needs until your own needs are cared for. You put your oxygen mask on first. It's not selfish, its biology. Toughen your feet. So what if you start the Program and fail. Then you try again. And again. You keep rucking and building those callouses until it becomes easier and easier. Then before you know it, you are walking across that finish line. Calloused, and tired, but also feeling strong and proud of how you were able to bear that burden.
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