breathing in nature, breathing out stress
The awareness that I’ve suddenly begun to feel absolutely and totally overwhelmed has been such a frequent and unwelcomed companion for the past few years, that I sometimes don’t even question it. Whenever it arrives, it’s the gigantic elephant in the middle of my mental living room. Don’t ask!! Don’t talk about it!! Don’t even question it being there.
But I did question it this morning. I asked myself what changed between the moment when my heartrate was at a normal level…to the moment, only seconds later, when my heartrate was in the upper stratosphere. (because the elephant likes to come over and sit right on my chest)
Why did he arrive? The answer is nothing new; the environment was ripe. It’s fear concern about the future sprinkled liberally with ’OMG’ thoughts about the present circumstances staring me in the face.
I’m tired of hearing, reading…even repeating to myself, over and over, that “I have the key.” Why, if I have the darned key, must I evidenly be keeping it safely tucked in a drawer somewhere and not using it?!?? Somehow, some way, it must be that “no pain, no gain” thing again.
Today, however, I went and got that key and started looking at it, thinking about it.
What is one thing I can do…to make today better than yesterday?
OK, self: “What is one thing – however small – I will do, to make today better than yesterday?”
“I don’t know!”
“Yes, you do.”
<sounds of a struggle>
“Fine!!! I’m setting a boundary around my walks with my dog.”
It didn’t seem like much of a step, at first. But immediately after I said it, after I mentally committed to it, I began to breathe a tiny bit better for doing so.
In recent weeks I had begun to let family and friends come along on these walks. They weren’t there in person, mind you, but on my phone. It didn’t seem like a problem. But I’ve figured out that this change has been affecting my mental attitude, my patience levels.
As typical of their age and lifestyle (so I’ve been told by friends), my children often call me en route to wherever they are headed next – driving to or from work, on their way to run errands, etc. Up to this point, I had made it a priority to pick up their calls, whenever and wherever, in order to maintain as much contact as possible.
But I realized that my walk times with my dog are unique and precious times, not only with her, but also communing with nature, with God. And they are irreplaceable. The brief moments in my day spent in this beauty and peacefulness pass by quickly, not to be recaptured. When I have my mind on an outside conversation, I am walking in nature… but I am not present. I’m unable to absorb all the beauty around me – the sights, the sounds, the smells.
When I’m out walking and truly communing, I almost always begin to feel gratitude bubble up within me. My heartrate is in tune, my patience cup is refilled.
So I have prescribed a ”new”…a former…regimen for myself, to alleviate my symptoms of feeling overwhelmed :
(1) take two walks a day, no phone calls. be present. inhale deeply, slowly…exhale
(2) drink a glass of water upon return
(3) get your list out, choose a step, even a baby step in a positive direction… and take it
(4) lather, rinse, repeat.
P.S. There’s a slight implication that the first picture is thistle, when it’s actually clover blossoms. But once the title came to me, it wouldn’t let go.