Skip to main content


Stress Management

Gannett Health Services
110 Ho Plaza
Cornell University
Ithaca, NY 14853-3101

Tel: 607 255-5155
Fax: 607 255-0269

A lecturer, when explaining stress management to a class, raised a glass of water and asked, "how heavy is this glass of water?" Answers called out ranged from 20g to 500g. The lecturer replied, "The absolute weight doesn't matter. It depends on how long you try to hold it."

"If I hold it for a minute, that's not a problem. If I hold it for an hour, I'll have an ache in my right arm. If I hold it for a day, you'll have to call an ambulance. "In each case, it's the same weight, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes."

He continued, "And that's the way it is with stress. If we carry our burdens all the time, sooner or later, as the burden becomes increasingly heavy, we won't be able to carry on." "As with the glass of water, you have to put it down for a while and rest before holding it again. When we're refreshed, we can carry on with the demands of life."

(The original source of this story is unknown to us,
but its message resonates with many.)

When life’s challenges and demands begin to pile up and pull us out of balance we need to take time to do those things that replenish and restore our physical, mental and emotional well-being. In other words, we need to take "purposeful breaks": time-limited, fun, relaxing or neutral activities or quiet time by ourselves or with supportive others. You can start looking through this section by clicking on the headings that are of most interest to you:

See Also