Feeling uptight or worn out you might find this simple stress relief notion works for you too, podcast.
After rather an emotional roller coaster ride this last week I’m going to deviate a bit from the normal stories about the people we meet and the wildlife we see and talk about something that most of us need quite regularly… stress relief!
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Is Your Stress Relief Right in Front of You?
In another life, well, it seems that way, I worked with people struggling with family and individual problems. I recall a young mother of two small boys (let’s call her Laura) who came to my office requesting help with her anxiety. Came to find she was in an emotionally and physically abusive relationship. Her husband was a sporadic provider and a powder keg at home. She never knew when he’d go off next, because when he did, she paid for it. He’d shout obscenities at her which generally escalated to physical violence.
Why didn’t she leave? Well many women in abusive relationships don’t. Abuse had become Laura’s ‘normal’, her ‘comfort zone’… though hard for most of us to understand. Let’s look at it this way. What discomforts have you grown accustom to? Here in Zimbabwe, where we currently are, most take the roads with potholes, ‘load shedding’ (the politically correct term for power outages), and police checkpoints as part of daily life.
I recall one home we lived in for a brief period in Albuquerque where I’d put my box of make-up in the drawer backwards. Everyday I’d pull out an eye shadow turn it around to see if it was the color I wanted and put it back… backwards. It wasn’t until months later that I realized I could simply turn the box around. Duh!
After several failed attempts on my part to encourage Laura to move out and go to a safe house I decided the best way to help might be to focus on the symptoms, stress. Giving her some coping skills might provide her some stress relief and keep major physical illness at bay.
The approach I chose is simple… anyone can apply it.
Right now we are in a mountain wilderness camp at the northern edge of Zimbabwe, there is no phone or internet accesses. The camp is quiet and we declared today a ‘relax and chill’ day. That got my mind racing as to all the many things that needed doing… writing and recording my next podcast, labeling the newest photos, creating a well overdue video, doing laundry, and a bit of general grooming like clipping my toe nails.
Well as I went off with my buckets to do some wash (Russ and I generally do this together, but today he was looking at what the Landy needed) I was already thinking ahead at the next task. Then a wasp came buzzing around me. I tried to shoo her off, I don’t take kindly to wasp stings. However she persisted buzzing around my head and then the water faucet. It was time to stop being irritated and to watch.
My unwanted visitor was thirsty. When I stopped waving my arms around she lighted on the wet water pipe connection and drank. After that off she flew and I began paying attention to the spider web in the bush in front of me and the breeze in the trees. I even began watching the water change colors and the sand remaining at the bottom of my bucket as I dumped out the soapy water. The more I became present, the more I relaxed and enjoyed the menial experience I was engaged in. The wasp returned, this time I didn’t try to shoo her I simply watched as she flew around a few times then went back to the same moist spot on the pipe and drank.
I asked Laura when the times were that she was the least interrupted.
“While driving,” she replied.
“What do you think about?” I asked.
“It depends,” she said.
What she needed from the grocery store. How she was going to ask her husband for money to pay for the new shoes the kids needed. Mostly she said, she went round and round trying to figure out what she could do differently to prevent her husband’s rages. May be if she had dinner ready on time (her husband came home at odd hours.) Maybe if the kids toys were all picked up (sometimes her husband was home all day.) You get the picture… her stress was escalating out of control as she was consumed by solving an unsolvable problem.
No matter what our life circumstance, living in the future robs us of the peace and rejuvenation the present can bring. Menial tasks like driving along a country road, doing the dishes, moving the lawn, painting a fence, sweeping the porch, and putting on a new thatch roof (as the fella across the riverbed from me is doing) can become moments to refuel so we are more grounded to face the tough times that life hands out to us all in various forms.
From getting stuck in the mud (pre Land Rover in our little rented car) after the worst storm ever (as we did in Bela Bela in March of 2014), dealing with the unexpected loss of a loved one and struggling to make sense of it, finding someone you care for deeply shutting you out, working for an ‘impossible to please’ boss… and the situations go on.
In my experience people like Laura, and people like you and I can find stress relief right in front of us when we take time to smell the roses, watch a butterfly, listen to a bird or watch the changing landscape as we drive on by.
Living in the present with all our faculties, appreciating the now… because the past is behind us never to be relived and the future is yet to reveal herself… all we have in this very time and space we find ourselves in… Live in it!