Calm in An Anxious Age

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How did we get to this age of high anxiety and stress?  With all the incredible technology, science and medical wonders, why can’t we solve this problem effecting millions every day?

Stress baffles and defies us…that perception that our demands are way beyond our personal and social capacities to deal with them.  Life is tough, sometimes traumatic, with joy and peace seemingly out of reach.  Some of us have even become trapped in chronic stress.  I don’t want to live this way—sensitive to allergies, sometimes noise levels and bright lights, insomnia, anxiety, having to go off alone to recuperate.  I’m praying for an Exit, on the look-out.  I don’t intend to just lie down and accept this as my new normal, and neither should you.

With every breath, heartbeat, and prayer, I will continue to seek health and wholeness that ultimately comes from the original design that our Creator gave us.

And there is help, not found on the prescription pad or in a text book.  Could you use a little more peace, a little less stress?  This one doesn’t cost money, just a little time.

Come with me then.  Come at sunset and sit under a nurturing bower of tree branches.  Just sit there facing the west and drink in the colors—orange, rose, and red, brush strokes that are holding back the coming dark of night.  Breathe deep and slow.  Share your heart, just what you are feeling in the moment with a safe person, someone who loves you and won’t judge you—may not understand your feelings always but willing to really listen, really be present to you—not peeking at the phone every few seconds; devices put away.  Do the same for the other person.

I went to my back yard with Kent a few evenings ago at sunset.  Stress levels were high.  I felt angry and frightened about health and house-related issues. I knew that I needed to get to a better place emotionally and physically and felt my resources were a bit scarce. And I wanted harmony restored between Kent and me.

It was so peaceful outdoors.  The peace streamed into body, mind, and heart, the longer we were out there under the trees.  And having reflected on my feelings beforehand, I was able to say what was going on with me.  (Instead of the lazy path of just surfing the internet for social media tidbits to relieve my symptoms when in reality, technology is a major source of stress in and of itself.)

We did not come to agree about everything that was bothering me or him.  We did not even come up with any lasting solutions.  But just the act of sharing feelings, being received and accepted in the telling, was good for both of us, for airing hidden frustrations.

At least in the light of early evening, under sheltering trees, remembering how much we are grateful for, the dark emotions didn’t seem so big.  And after starting out tired and wired, I felt renewed and calm as a field of flowers lifting their faces to the sun when no wind stirs.

Simple gifts for healing—science confirms for us the powers of nature to heal and soothe.  Check out forest-bathing research.  And also simple conversation with people to whom we are bonded.  Brain science indicates that texting and email don’t help our brains in the ways that face to face conversations and even phone calls do.  Then there is the research on dementia, disease, and premature death.  There is a much smaller risk when there are deep human bonds in a person’s life.  Doing life alone, escaping into movies or Facebook to see what someone else is doing, passivity, isolation—those are the killers.

Everyone is impacted by stress and busyness, but we can use our human power to push back the calendar to-do’s, even if only for a few minutes.    Pay attention and savor surroundings, bird chatter, honeysuckle fragrance released in a breeze, trees arching overhead with a kindly reach toward heaven to give us refuge while we talk, only half an hour, name our feelings and let them go.

Money and pills, passing pleasures and busyness can’t buy what we really need.  But here it is—a bit of nature, a bit of conversation.

A path for healing, free for the taking.  Take it. Now.  Warning—you may become as calm as a comforted babe being held in arms of love.

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