Sails, Sailboats and Stress


Brunswick, Georgia is a port city. As I was driving downtown today, I noticed the masts of the sailboats that were docked for the winter. I do not know a great deal about sailing, but I know that sailboats do not have engines. The boater relies on the wind for the sailboat to move. They also rely on their ability to control the sail to direct the sailboat in the right direction.

As I looked at the tall masts, I began to think about the sails. Sails are built to resist the wind. They are not porous with lots of holes. Holes would allow the wind to go straight though. If the wind could go through the sail, the boat would not move. It is the resistance that is built into the sail that causes the boat to move.
Imagine the sail is up and the wind starts to blow. The sail “catches” the wind. The force of the wind in the sail pushes the sail and results in movement.

None of the sailboats had their sails up which allowed me to take note of the masts. The mast is the tall pole in the middle. It has to be very strong to withstand the force of the wind that is “caught” in the sail. We have seen broken masts on sailboats that were caught in severe storms like hurricanes. These masts could not withstand the high force of the hurricane force winds.

My observations made me think about stress and the effect stress has on each of us. Stress can be a motivator causing us to take action or to move in a positive direction. I knew I needed to pack in order to prepare for my weekend getaway. Other responsibilities prevented me from packing a week in advance. The closer my departure date came the more stress I felt. I knew I needed to make sure I had everything I would need while I was away. The stress I felt motivated me to action. I kept track of the weather forecast and I packed several days before my departure.

The wind filled my sail and I moved.

Stress is not always a bad thing. It can motivate and push us to perform. It can also cause us to do more than we or others expected. When you feel yourself feeling stressed, put your sails up and sail.

Try This:
Reflect on a stressful situation that motivated you. What was motivating about that situation? What did you learn about yourself or your abilities?

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If you are in the Brunswick/St. Simons Island, Georgia area please join me for Happy Half Hour 30 Minute Guided Relaxation. You may register at

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