I am a complete a stress bunny. Always. Even when you see me relaxed with an iced coffee poolside, my shoulders are so tense my ears disappear. Something is always pushing at me to want to do better, to be better, to be more. And I’m terrified that this is it. I thrive on pushing myself, thinking about the endless to do list and how I am going to leave my mark in the writing world. I also tend to be restless. I have to go. Anywhere, somewhere, to do something, only sitting still when I need a nap. I am often bored, frustrated, and trying to find happiness outside myself. I know dear reader, you all feel the same. Is it Mommydom? Fear that we have lost our selves? Fear that this is our self? Lost and stressed, we can all overcome these feelings, and hopefully relax enough so we can hear the sounds of life and happiness around us.
We all want certain things in life. Security, love, success, and happiness are among our main objectives , however we decide and define these for ourselves. We all live trying to find happiness. But, as the saying goes, “Man proposes, God disposes.” Sometimes our disappointments can be overwhelming and really shake us to our cores. They immobilize us. But when times are great, we forget those troubling thoughts and enjoy every moment on cloud nine. But that high life doesn’t last, things turn, and we crash through the atmosphere, landing face flat on the ground. We learn to protect our fragile egos by not getting our hopes up about anything. But then we live a sad, unfulfilled life.
So why do we push ourselves so hard? Besides being our worst critics, we keep ourselves overloaded so we don’t have to face all the emotions and thoughts swirling tornado like in our minds. The little things, that become F5 category storms and fuel stress. Not that I can eliminate my own stress, yet, but I am trying very hard my friends, to toss this toxic thinking to the wind. Life is more enjoyable, and happier if we release stressful thoughts. So let’s get off the roller coaster, and try to achieve some inner peace and end some of our stress. (Stop laughing. I am truly working on this ‘opus’ myself)
Learn to lighten up, take it easy on yourself. We actually line ourselves up for that roller coaster. We look for the biggest thrill, and if it doesn’t happen, we are thoroughly disappointed. If the expectation is met or exceeded, we are elated and thrilled to the very center of our being of course, being human, we are emotionally tied to the outcome and BANG! There is an even bigger electric charge. Every situation offers opportunity, even if it’s for our own personal growth. Expect that nothing will be as expected, and be ready for the surprise endings. Learn to appreciate good outcomes and to accept the challenge of the unplanned and the negative. Some people have a fear that bad things lie in wait. Let go of fear of what might happen and experience life as it unfolds.
Keep in mind, that life is always mutable. Nothing is ever permanent, and there will always be alternate paths we can choose. When life is great, we hope it continues forever. When we fall down the rabbit hole, we can’t wait to get out. When we feel stuck in a bad situation it’s hard to remember the times when life is good. Seven years ago my husband had a massive heart attack. The CICU doc had to jump start his heart, and it took five years before he was able to really feel almost like his former self. It changed everything. We walked on eggshells, changed diet and exercise routines and worried about every little pain that pinged in his chest. But although his heart is stronger now, we had to refocus. Nothing is the same. We had to step back and detach, and rework our lives to meet the new standards. We were both paralyzed, not knowing what was in store was terrifying. But each day we hoped that the arterial disease would stop progressing. The doctor told me my husband is a living miracle. I believe he is stubborn enough to have actually willed the bad juju out of himself. So nothing is permanent (except the regulating meds) and we forge ahead to new and brighter horizons.
Breathe. Learn to stop over-evaluating every detail of your life. Life just is. Learn to relax and greet it with a big fat smile. I am learning to live by just being in the moment, and not dissecting how everything directly affects me. My hubby says I’m like an ostrich with my head in the sand, but honestly, thinking ahead in short bursts gives me a more direct sense of accomplishment, and greater peace of mind. I am learning through mindfulness not to judge every minutiae of my day, and it helps me to stay focused and positive. As a writer I am by nature an observer, using the skill of observation helps me distance myself, be less judgmental and critical of my situation, and to focus on transitioning to a better place. Observing instead of judging helps clear up reality. Shift gears in your mind to find a positive aspect of your experience to show something good that is happening. For example, when I was still adjusting to the realization that my hubby was in the hospital, I was overwhelmed with daily life. My good friends came to see me and brought meals and companionship. I was amazed that some of the people I hardly knew, cared about what was happening to my family and to me. It made me realize the value of compassion, empathy and helping others in times of need.
Sometimes, we overlook the road map. Life puts some road signs up to guide you, don’t look for the scenic route. Let the “Universal GPS” guide you. I heard a great example of life in a speech a few years ago. Life is like a river. We can either go with the natural flow, we can head upstream; or just hang onto a random tree limb to stay put. When we go with the flow, life carries us along logically, and peacefully. If we head upstream, our arms get tired trying to cross the current and stay afloat. If we hang onto a tree limb, we’ll risk being scraped and bruised and possibly even swept away if the current is strong enough to break the branch. The moral of the story is to go with the flow. Children of the sixties and seventies, you all know this to be a great way to go. By all means keep reaching for your dreams, but be on the lookout for signs that your chosen path is off target. If you’re struggling too hard, try a different swimming stroke.
Perhaps, like me, you have far too much on your plate for one person to handle. You end up completely stressed because your to do list did not get done. Unfortunately this is a truth for many of us. Breathe. Deeply. Count to ten. Remember that stress slows you down because you worry about about catching up or the new job, etc. Look at the big picture. Focus. Everything will get done in its own time. Baby steps, one thing at a time. You will see that things start coming together with less effort on your part. You will flow with that natural current.
Every day I make lists. Long, impossible to do lists. Then I edit them. I make it simpler, and make a note that the most important things have to be at the top of the page. This ensures that I get to those important things, which likely won’t happen if I keep reacting to all the daily distractions. I am still a work in progress, but I’m amazed at how much more I can accomplish, with less stress. Bottom line folks, ending your stress is in your power, you can breathe now.
My husband’s wake-up call that taught me to stop stressing so much, appreciate life, and live it to the fullest. To do that, I had to slow down and learn what a gift it is to live in the moment, and to be open to whatever life brings.
Like any major life changing experience, it showed me how strong I can be. For my family, my husband and myself. It was a reminder that terrible, hard situations are only temporary, and there is much to learn from them. Life can’t always be just the way we want it to be. But if we go with the flow, and are mindful and conscious of our decisions, things might turn out better than we expect.
A peaceful, mindful life is far less stressful and makes everything more possible and enjoyable.