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Boilers have a valve on them which allows for an operator or an automated system to open up and release the pressure which has built up in the system. A boiler is designed to operate at a specific pressure. When things are working correctly small adjustments may be made to ensure the system is within tolerance levels. Occasionally steam is released via the pressure valve. However, if we don’t keep track of the system and let things build up without releasing some of the pressure, then we have a massive explosion. The boiler is either damaged or destroyed and we have to replace it along with a number of other components.

We are the same. We have the ability to operate at a certain pressure level. That level of pressure ebbs and flows throughout the days, weeks and months, but no matter what that pressure level, we need to ensure we have a good relief valve.

A good relief valve has one very important quality: It must not harm others or ourselves. This means it must be something that will not cause physical, social, emotional or any other kind of harm. For example, many people don’t realize it, but they release some of the pressure they feel by belittling those around them. That kind of behavior causes both emotional and social harm because of the demeaning nature of the action.

I have found that the best relief for me is engaging in some kind of physical activity. Biking, martial arts, racquetball and hiking are all good, engaging relief valves for me. There is something about getting out and being involved in a physical activity that helps release stress for me. It also provides a physical health benefit. I can literally “walk off” the pressure.

The final key to the pressure valve is making sure we take time to release the pressure at regular intervals before the pressure becomes too great. We will not be able to function properly unless we are willing to bleed a bit of the pressure at regular intervals. Otherwise we risk an unpleasant explosion. We sometimes call this kind of explosion burn out or a midlife crisis and it usually takes a fair amount of time to either ”rebuild“ or “repair” our systems so we can get back up to our production levels.

Photo by Bruno Oliveira on Unsplash.