I’m going to talk about stress. I promise it won’t be boring. But, we all deal with stress. Moms are stressed with kids, CEO’s are stressed with their responsibility, students are stressed with grades and aspiring writers are stressed with the lack of opportunity. It is one of the things that puts all people on the same playing field.
These past few weeks have been particularly stressful for me. In fact, the high amount of stress has caused physical ailments such as headaches, upset stomach, and exhaustion. I know I am not the only one whose stress causes such drastic side effects. So, I wrote down all of the things that were causing me stress within the past few weeks (I literally did this), and then accompanied them with small ways to fix them. For example, one of my stressors was the amount of time I spend in my car. My solution? Find a way to make the car ride more than just a car ride. I listed things such as “use that time to pray,” “listen to motivational “TED Talks,” “listen to books on tape,” and so on.
But I think the biggest stressors that made my list were “loss of social life” and “no time for leisure.” You see, stress has a way of making itself bigger when you lose the things that make stress go away. My best friends live far away and so my social life has been lacking. I haven’t had a lot of time to spend time doing things I love such as reading, writing, going outside or even waking up to read the paper or magazine in the morning before work. So, my solutions were things like “go out in public more,” “wake up earlier to read,” and “spend more time in nature.”
I started the week off with this list of “solutions” and all intention to put them into action. I listened to TED Talks, read a chapter before bed and wrote a poem just for myself. But when I was ready to tackle the “out in public” and “spend time in nature” solutions, I realized how blessed I was and how unfairly blind I’ve been.
I have within reach a beautiful river, hiking trails, neighbor’s houses close enough to visit on a walk, and local, small businesses to frequent where everyone knows my name and wants to have a conversation with me.
On one of these particularly stressful days I went in search for a glass of wine as I reached my little town. I needed some down time and to let off some steam. I was greeted with “Hi Kas, How are ya” and a glass of Moscato. I didn’t even have to ask the bar tender for my drink; she already knew. And instead of feeling grateful in that moment, I muttered a hushed “thank you,” pulled out my phone and sat by myself in silence.
How awful is it that I had a chance to live in the moment, be fully present, and instead chose to wallow in my stress? I think if I’ve learned anything from the intensity of these past few weeks it’s that I live somewhere where all of the answers to my problems are quite literally within reach. I need more nature? It’s everywhere here. I need more socializing? There will be someone I know everywhere I go that I can have a conversation with and more so, genuinely cares about what I have to say. If I truly look around, try to be present in each moment, then I have found all of my solutions. My problem then moves from being stressed, to being blind. And I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be in a place within myself that I can’t see the very real blessings and opportunities that are here in this small community every day. I just have to open my eyes.
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