After months of riding on worn out wheels that wobble, creak and click with every revolution, I finally got to ride on a new wheelset yesterday! They're not the flashest brand or the most expensive, but they run smooth and quiet leaving me wondering why I put up with the old ones for so long.
As I rode my bike enjoying the much more pleasant sound of the wind whiring through the spokes than the incesant creaking and clicking, I began thinking about how easy it is to miss a more serious problem when you ignore the early warning signs. These thoughts were affirmed upon closer inspection of my old wheels as I discovered the issues relating to worn parts were a little more dangerous than just annoying sounds!
In essence, these 'annoying sounds' are not that dissimilar to some stressors in life...
How often do we ignore or neglect stressors that are potential warning signs of something a little more serious? How often do we become accustomed to those stressors and adapt to the build up of resistance over time? How often do we only recognise the warning signs retrospectively after something serious happens?
Definition: "A stressor is an external stimulus or an event that causes stress to an organism."
As a stimulus in a healthy environment a stressor can be a motivator. However, as a sign, stressors warn us when something isn't functioning as it ought to be. If these warnings are ignored long enough, what was once a motivator can become the cause of a malfunction! Recognising these warning signs requires good self-awareness and honest self-examination. Similar to my bike wheels, the only way I am going to know if there is a problem is to have an understanding of what normal function looks like for me (self-awareness) and to be responsive to the warning signs as they become apparent (self-examination). While it is relatively easy (albeit a little expensive) to repair or replace a mechanical breakdown on a bike, the same cannot be said for a physical or emotional breakdown in a human being. Self-care may have become a sociological buzz-word but it is an absolute necessity if we are to effectively manage the stressors that are an unavoidable part of life.