Before and After

Abe Giesbrecht had a life-altering wake-up call. Here’s his story:

We did a major kitchen renovation a few years ago and like most people we took pictures before we started and after we were finished so we could look back and see what it used to look like and how nice it is now. Well, let me share what my life was before I understood what stress was and the damage it can do, and how it has changed my life.

My life was fast-paced, always on the go. My days usually started at 5:30am and most of the time ended around 11 or 11:30 pm. My motto was that there were too many things to do, and that sleeping too long was a waste of time. Running my own business took a lot of my time, managing staff, making sure that schedules were made, along with the day-to-day responsibilities of running a business and dealing with customers both good and bad.  Not only was my work life busy but my involvement in other things keep me busy as well. There is always a need for volunteers in church and in the community. It was common for me to be on two different committees in church and serve on a committee in the community. It was very time consuming and often very draining.  But because I am a compassionate person by nature, there always seemed to be someone who had a need. If someone was struggling and I could help, I would make their problem my problem and take it upon myself to do what I could to help.

My mind was always thinking, whether I was thinking about the next new thing to bring into the store, what I all needed to do or what I was responsible for on my committees. I was always preoccupied by thinking about something and never gave my mind a rest or time to recharge. My mind was so preoccupied, that I would spend a lot of time premeditating on what my next conversation would be. I would think about, if I met so and so, and he brings up this conversation, how would I respond to defend myself. I knew that if I went to the next meeting and some conversation may come up, how would I respond so that I could stand my ground, I didn’t want to sound foolish, so I spent time going over every possible conversation and what I might say. I would get so worked up over these premeditated conversations that had not even taken place yet and often because of that, lost all sense of joy and often allowed those thoughts to ruin my whole day.

Life came to a grinding halt on Mother’s Day weekend of 2017 when I ended up in the hospital with chest pains. When the doctor came to see me on that Monday morning, the first question he had was, “Where is your stress at, you’re young and healthy, what’s going on?” I didn’t know how to answer the stress part, but I told him about my busy lifestyle, and I think he figured the rest of it out from that. That was a start to the hardest and most stressful next nine months of our lives. (That’s a long story for another day). At the end of the nine-month period, the surgeon very strongly encouraged me to make a career change and deal with my stress.

I took his advice and changed my career. Thank God for a friend who introduced me to The Stress Experts.  I was desperate for help because I knew I needed help to heal and get on with life. I soaked up all the information I was given and put it into practice and practiced it every day. My wife immediately began to see positive changes in me, and she decided to do what I did so she could better understand the process of conquering stress. She has been my biggest support and cheerleader in this whole process. My life has changed completely. Now, I am very conscious about what kind of thoughts I allow myself to think about, I no longer make other peoples’ problems my own, but my level of compassion has not decreased. I have eliminated all my responsibilities down to one thing at a time and have realized that it’s not my role to fix the world’s problems. I have also learned, and now understand the importance of taking time to recharge so I can be a better help to others but also take better care of myself. I meet weekly with a friend of mind, and we recharge each other by talking about positive things and encouraging each other. We talk about the challenges of the week then talk about how we dealt with them and what we can do next time they come. I always leave feeling charged.

The changes in my life have been noticed by many. My coworkers have expressed the difference they see from what I used to be. A man from the community came up to me a few weeks ago and said, “I have been watching you lately, you seem so relaxed and content as if you don’t carry the stress you used to. What happened? How the big change?” Well, that gave me just another opportunity to share my story.

Out of control stress is scary stuff and it almost cost me my life, but thanks be to God for directing me through a friend to the right place to get the right help, and now I have another chance on life and hopefully the opportunity to be a better help to those who need me.     

Abe told me that before that Mother’s Day weekend, he never would have described himself as “stressed”- it was just the way life was.

Maybe you’re someone like Abe. Maybe you know someone like Abe. You don’t need to wait for a “wake-up call” to learn the tools and skills to decrease stress, become healthier, and love living a more balanced life. Check out our individual coaching options. Or bring these skills to many people, such as your workplace, with our workshops and trainings.

Thank you, Abe, for sharing your story! 

Here’s to conquering stress.

With heart,

The Stress Experts

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