Gerwig 2014-07-23

Are you under pressure? Feel anxious? Stressed out? If so, join the crowd. You are in good company. Around the globe, people are feeling the effects of pressure. Heart attacks. Insomnia. Strokes. Depression. High blood pressure. Fatigue. Weight gain. We could go on and on but the fact is that pressure is not good for our health, at least sustained or prolonged pressure. When we are under constant pressure it impacts our physical, emotional and, sometimes even, spiritual health. This is especially true if we don’t release the pressure.

I’d just gotten a new watch (thanks to an Amazon gift card) and wanted to check it out. It was a dive watch with an orange face. To some, it looked odd. I thought it looked spectacular, especially since I’m an alumnus of three universities featuring orange, Clemson, Tennessee and Auburn. Did I mentioned that the Netherlands is also one of my favorite international futbol sides? Go figure.

If you’re familiar with diving, you know that a dive watch is not sufficient. You need a dive computer. This I had in the form of a Suunto D6i that I typically wore on my left wrist. No problem. I had two wrists. I’d wear my new dive watch on my right wrist. Yes, a bit overkill, but I rationalized that my Seiko watch would be a backup if the long-lasting battery in my Suunto computer happened to go out during the middle of a dive. The Seiko wouldn’t be able to provide all the detailed information as the Suunto, but at least I’d know how long I’d been under water (which is important when you’re diving!).

On our first weekend dive, we went to a favorite spot just off Mactan (Cebu, Philippines) to a place called Punta (Point). We geared up and got in the water. It was a great dive (as they all are!). We saw lots of unique sea life that draw divers from all over the world. We had a long dive at Punta, close to 75 minutes. Though we’d go 30-35 meters for portions of the dive, we’d always spend the last 30-45 minutes in shallow water just under the boat. You find different types of marine life at different depths. The things we photographed at 30 meters were different than what we saw at 6 meters. And since you use less air at more shallow depths, it seemed like we could almost stay indefinitely underwater at Punta when we came up to 6 meters for the last half of our dive.

On that day (Saturday the 13th according to the watch dial), I took the above picture of my new watch. I sent a picture of the watch to my parents who’d given me the gift card for Christmas. I wanted them to see their thoughtful gift “in action” under the Philippine Sea. That day, I was under pressure. Though I didn’t give it a lot of thought, I was under more pressure than normal when I took that picture.

Yes, it was a relaxing day of diving with family and friends, but the water itself was placing additional pressure on me. Remember from physics, or chemistry, or some other science class learning that at sea level our bodies are under one “atmosphere” of pressure (or 14.7 pounds per square inch)? What you may (or may not) have learned is that for every 33 feet (approximately 10 meters) we travel downward in the water, one more atmosphere of pressure pushes down on us. On that first dive at Punta, I had been under approximately 4 atmospheres of pressure when I was at 30 meters. This is 4 times the pressure I normally experience at sea level.

OK, enough with the science class already. What does this mean for you? There are times when you’re under pressure and you realize it. But there are also times when you’re under pressure (like I was trying out my new watch while diving at Punta) and you don’t realize it.

In your everyday life, pressure can come from many sources, your job, your family, your church. Pressure can comes in many forms and last for various lengths of time. The first key for your health is to recognize when you’re under pressure. The second key is to release the pressure.

How do you do this? Friends can help you recognize pressure you may not see. Times of meditation, prayer, or reflection can help as well. Pay attention to your behavior. Are you angry? Are you tired? Are you thinking clearly? Do you have muscles fatigue or pain? Are you sleeping well? These types of questions can help you determine if you’re experiencing pressure. Be observant. Ask yourself questions. Ask others. Listen to their feedback.

If possible, remove yourself from the pressure. Get into a different place physically, emotional or spiritually. If you can’t remove yourself from the pressure, find a release value, a hobby, exercise, prayer. Don’t try to be a hero. Ask for help if needed. See a counselor or your pastor. Talk with your spouse or a close friend. Lastly, recognize that we all experience pressure, anxiety, and stress from time to time. Don’t beat yourself up. Recognize the pressure and release the pressure. Recover.

How about you? What is your story?

As always, the floor is open to your comments, suggestions, thoughts, and feedback.

Dr. is an agent of change and is able to balance the needs of the business and the needs of people. Dr. Gerwig believes and practices the values of performance and delivery of business metrics while simultaneously developing and growing people into leaders. You can contact him at RobertGerwig[at]


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