Are you too stressed to de-stress? What I mean by that is are you so stressed that you can’t see a de-stressing moment or experience when you come across one.
So… what is stress and what are its effects?
Well… I’m not going to tell you. If you don’t know already or want more information you can check out Dr Google.
I actually started to write down what it was and all the signs and symptoms and then I erased it all and started again.
Because most of us know what stress is and what it feels like. You don’t need me telling you more about it, so let’s get to the good stuff.
When I am out and about on my daily walks I see interesting people and characters. I watch how people interact with their environment and the situations they find themselves in or create for themselves.
People seems to wear their worry or stress like a coat that they can’t take off. Yet, if they only knew where the zipper was, it could be gone in an instant. Thrown to the wind, or taken up again later when instead of a winter coat that weighs you down it has become a summer coat that you can leave open and take moments to relax.
A couple of experience stand out in my mind. One which happened today that made me want to put my thoughts down in writing.
I was out walking down Whiffin Spit (one of my favourite birding spots) and the spit is exactly what it says it is.
This morning the tide was out and people were walking, catching crabs with their kids, relaxing and enjoying life except for one man.
This man could have been in a board room. He was dressed for the beach, but his posture was of someone who was demanding. Every nerve in his body was tense and you could see the stress just oozing out of him. Well actually… he was keeping it all in.
He wasn’t just striding up the path or the beach, but was down over a steep embankment and was pacing back and forth over the rocks while talking animatedly on his cell phone.
It was like watching a caged animal and as he was tucked away over the bank, I was probably one of the only people to see him and that was only because I check for birds in that area.
I headed off down the path pondering what I had seen.
One of my first thoughts was “he looks like he has a lot on his mind and is trying to deal with it“. Or… stressed to the max!
My second thought was “throw your phone into the ocean and take a deep breath. Look around you!!”
My third and less reactive thought was how sometimes we are led to water but forget how to drink.
This man was obviously in a state and under pressure and yet something in his soul, his eternal being had brought him down to the ocean.
The ocean can soothe the soul and relax the body and free the mind if we allow it.
Whether self-preservation or just a knowing that being by the ocean could somehow help him calm his nerves he never seemed to notice it. He was too caught up in his stress to notice that there was de-stress available to him.
In my thoughts, I wished him well, encouraged him to breathe deeply and listen to the rhythm of the waves.
Another experience I was actually involved in a minor sort of way and this was all about creating stress.
I was in the hardware store and it’s a pet-friendly place where they have dog treats and water bowls at floor level.
I came around the corner of an aisle to see a scenario happening in flash of an instance.
Looking back, there were already 3 people and a dog in the aisle and as I turned the corner the dog started to growl and bark.
Not at me, but at the employee coming down the row towards him. He (the employee) was yelling and cursing at the dog, telling the owner to get out and the more he yelled the more the dog barked and growled.
Aggression breeds aggression.
The lady that was with the owner of the dog, left the scene and the man with the dog was getting more upset at the man yelling at his dog and confusion reigned.
I could see the stress level going up in all concerned. And yet… did any of it have to be that way?
The aggressive employee who was obviously afraid of the dog could have just gone down a different aisle avoiding the stress encounter and yet he put himself right in the middle. Literally!
He had a way to de-stress but chose stress.
This all happened very quickly, the employee yelling, the dog barking and growling and the owner of the dog trying to reassure the man that his dog was friendly.
If there was a winner, I would give first prize to the dog. He finally backed the employee down the aisle who I’m sure needed to go outside for a cigarette even if he didn’t smoke to calm his nerves.
And how did I fit into this scenario you ask?
I was the person, standing at the end of the aisle when the man with the dog turned around. I hadn’t seen the dog up until then as the row was narrow and there I was face to face with a pit bull with a head that was bigger than a dinner plate.
I looked down at him although not far as he was taller than my waist and held out my hand to him. He sniffed it and I told him he was a nice looking dog, gave him a pat and went on my way.
It was interesting that the dog, so fierce and intimidating a moment before could let go of all the animosity in an instant and yet the employee held on to his anger and stress allowing it to wreck his whole day and maybe the week.
Something to learn from a dog!
But my favourite incident happened while walking in the woods. In Goldstream Park to be exact which is an old-growth temperate rain forest.
As you go through the parking lot you are greeted by huge old-growth fir trees and cedars.
I find forests one of the most healing places on earth amidst the green energy that surrounds it.
Now… you might find I go into a little judgement here, but when I’m out walking in nature, I always wonder why… why people are talking on their cell phone, looking at their iPads or listening to music through earbuds.
Why did they come to the wondrous environment if they were going to keep do all the things they could stay home and do.
But I digress…
I had stopped to watch a brown creeper circle its way around the trunk of a tree looking for insects and climbing ever higher when I could hear a man talking on the other side of the tree.
His conversation went something like this.
I am so stressed. You don’t know how stressed I am. I need to go and see a Psychologist to help me relieve my anxiety. Do you know a good one? You went to one before? Can you make me an appointment right now? I’ll wait but could you hurry, because I’m so tense. Do you know a good masseuse because boy, I could do with a massage right now to get rid of some of the tension? Can you make me an appointment with them as well?
At this point, the bird had made its way into the boughs of the tree and out of sight and as I walked along the path I could still hear the man talking.
And I thought… is it just me that feels the healing of the woods and the peace and calmness of the plants and trees?
But no… that can’t be the case, otherwise, there wouldn’t be any parks or land set aside in its natural state.
So what would happen if the man put away his phone, forgot about the shrink and massage and breathed in the deep green of the woods? Smelled a flower or touched a leaf and felt its smooth softness. Saw the raccoon sitting under the stump watching him and hugged a tree.
I don’t know about him, but I’m feeling better already.
There are so many ways in this stress-filled life to de-stress. We seem to know the ways as we end up walking along the ocean and being in the woods but like the dog, it’s all in the letting go.