by Andrew Metzger
One of the tasks connected to my administrative position at Pensacola State College involves coordinating virtually every aspect of an annual production of Handel’s Messiah, complete with 70-member chorus, full orchestra and four professional guest soloists. The best way to describe my responsibilities would be to say that I am in charge of everything that is not singing, playing an instrument or waving the conductor’s baton. And yes, as one might readily assume, this annual concert always takes place in December and always draws a large audience.
So, on top of everything we normally associate with holiday stress – gift buying, card sending, social events, eating all the wrong foods, etc. – I get to serve as the do-almost-everything person for a major performing arts event. If things don’t go off without a hitch, guess in whose direction the eyes of every singer, musician, soloist and ticket buyer turn?
How do YOU spell stress?
Enter the very useful Stress Management course offered through Smart Horizons’ School Training Solutions program. So many of the lesson points resonate with me.
This hits home because, as I simultaneously coordinate concert logistics, marketing, ticket sales, payroll, dealing with concert participants and interacting with the public, specific sources of stress tend to merge into an ambiguous stressful whole. My body is definitely responding across all categorical boundaries. It’s just stress! Add in the normal “holiday responsibilities” I’m at least subconsciously aware are being neglected in the midst of Messiah, and things get even more nonspecific! The STS lesson refers to stress being a “physical, chemical, and emotional reaction” – check, check and check!
“If you are angry, frightened, depressed, or worried, your relationships with other people are going to suffer.”
Ah, this so true! The techniques suggested in the course are wonderful preventive medicine against these emotions welling to the surface as I deal with literally a thousand people during the concert cycle. As the captain of this massive holiday vessel, I have to maintain a smiling, confident, everything-is-going-to-be-just-fine demeanor no matter what comes flying at me.
“…the future is but a dim promise over which you have no direct control.”
I love this nugget of STS wisdom. I’m going to cling to this thought as I center myself within and conquer each present moment, and before I know it, the dim promise that another successful Messiah performance has been achieved will become its own present moment!
“Think positively–if you think you cannot, you cannot!”
So true, STS! And I would add to thinking positively the idea of not trying to think of everything at one time. On concert night, I must remind myself that I can only put out one fire at a time.
“The relaxation response enables our bodies to recover from the toxic effects induced by the flight or fight response.”
There’s not much choice for me but to quickly engage the relaxation response when the flight or fight response wells up from within. I really can’t run out the front door of the concert venue and jog down the street— and trading punches with performers and/or patrons would be even less productive. I am a firm believer in the quick execution of the relaxation response!
“Humor—Laugh and the world laughs with you. Do not take yourself or the job too seriously.”
All I can say is “Bingo!”
But what ABOUT those gifts, and greeting cards, and social events, and all that rich food that makes us feel guilty, or even ill? The techniques outlined in the STS Stress Management course apply there as well, and anywhere else in life, really. So, if you feel the stresses of the holiday season beginning to close in on you – activating that sneaky, primordial flight or fight response – just remember that it could be worse. At least you don’t have to coordinate a major holiday concert. And even if you do, well, now you have the resources to cope with it!
School Training Solutions