How does one effectively cope with stressful times in life? Sometimes, life throws you one challenge after another in rapid-fire succession. On occasion, the undesirable stressors are caused by events which are completely out of your control. Of course, there are those moments when, through your own mistakes, you are forced to deal with the painful consequences of your poor decisions. Whatever the circumstances, stress is spelled the same. It feels the same. It effects are the same. It is undeniable that a constant barrage of negative stress is detrimental to your health. Loss of sleep, increased anxiety, loneliness, severe feelings of depression, unusual bouts with anger, and deep despair are a few ways it can rear its ugly head. These and other nasty symptoms need to be combated as quickly as possible before you spiral into a complete physical, mental, and emotional breakdown. “Every struggle in life will either make you bitter or better.”–Dave Willis Everyone will be tried and tested. No one will survive without a few scars. But, you may be wondering, “How do I survive at all?”
I want to tell you about a good friend. His name is Ron. I first met Ron over three years ago. I still recall our very first conversation. He appeared down on himself and a bit lost. I commenced training him in my gym shortly after that initial meeting. What I have witnessed throughout these several years of working with Ron is nothing short of remarkable. He could be a poster-child for unwanted stress. I think he’d prefer the term spokesperson. Nevertheless, I have been so impressed with Ron’s ability to deal with an ever-changing landscape in his life. What are some of the most stressful experiences in life? All of the experts’ lists are pretty much identical: break-ups in relationships, job changes, getting fired, moving, and problems with one’s immediate family. Yes, Ron has gone through several job changes. He worked in an extremely high-stress environment. At one point, his position was “eliminated” due to “restructuring of his department”. That’s the gentle way of saying he was fired. But, Ron is resilient, and Ron has an extremely diverse set of skills. He was troubled, but not afraid of his future. When Ron’s occupation required him to start traveling each week, he did not freak out. He just worked out! Ron and I used to meet Monday through Friday. He could have abandoned his commitment to himself because he was tired and overwhelmed. Instead, Ron asked if he could train with me each weekend. So, we adjusted our schedule.
I remember when Ron called me to say his girlfriend had broken off their relationship. That phone call came while he was on his way to my gym. He wasn’t going to lay around and feel sorry for himself. Ron knew that training would help him through this episode of his life. Indeed, it did. Yes, he has dealt with the stress of moving, not once, but several times. Though annoyed and exhausted at the same time, he never missed an exercise session with me. All the while, Ron demonstrated a determination that is second to none. Though he is one of the most intelligent people I’ve ever met, he has been very teachable. Ron always asks questions. He’s always been open to trying whatever varied exercise routine I’d throw at him. Ron loves to tweak his D.I.E.T. and experiment with food. I suppose it helps that he graduated from Culinary school years ago. Although that in itself doesn’t guarantee any personal success regarding overall health and wellness, it surely has provided a great foundation. Throughout his ordeals of the past three years, Ron has not ditched his commitment to eating healthy. Ron loves meeting new people and exploring new adventures. He speaks three languages, but guess what. He is learning another. Ron is always moving forward with hope for a better tomorrow. He is an entrepreneur. He started up a couple small businesses. His mind never dwells too long on the past because he’s always looking to create something. Ron is a musician, an IT specialist, a voice-over artist, a web-page designer, a comedian–in short, he’s amazing! His resume reads like a novel with suspenseful twists and turns. He graduated from Michigan State University and also has a degree from the University of Southern California. He is a well-traveled man. He has spent time in the Dominican Republic on a missions trip. He loved it so much he’s returned many times.
So, what can you learn from my dear friend? Never give in to doubt! We are all going to face disappointments. Never give up! Life can and will be cruel to us sometimes. Don’t stop believing! Well, he’s at it again! Ron is taking his talents to Houston, Texas. More potential stress on the horizon, but I’m not worried about him. He’s developed an ideal coping mechanism for stress: keep breathing, keep living, keep loving, keep serving, keep busy, keep exercising, and keep eating healthy. Hasta la vista, Ron, mi amigo. I am going to miss torturing you with my workouts and all of our stimulating and fun conversations.