This year of 2020 has certainly been a challenge for all of us. And now with the elections, the sense of division and antagonism is not only distracting, it is bringing out very unhealthy emotions. Though the world is not what we would like it to be, the way through this does not seem to be bashing those whose opinions differ, but in first recognizing and being thankful for the many benefits we do have and then exchanging views with the idea of finding middle ground and then building on that. Taking a critical look at problems is not a bad thing if we can start from thankfulness for lives and stop trying to control the substance and speed of change.
As this newsletter is all about health and wellness, I would like to focus on thankfulness in honor of this month's holiday and leave the hard issues for another day. There are plenty of places where you can find the pros and cons of our current circumstances as a nation.
We need balance. Let's start with us individually. Whether we're dealing with homeschooling children, a hard day at the office, serious health issues, or any other myriad of personal circumstances, we need to be sure to make time for moments of personal satisfaction and lack of stress. We all need to find personal space to look on the lighter side because a "merry heart doeth good like medicine". If we can't find space to laugh and be lighthearted in the midst of the challenges of life, we will always be looking with negativity that will make wellness and health hard to sustain.
Without joy, we can't digest our food, we can't sleep, we can't find rest. The science of stress shows that it raises cortisol in a sustained fashion which causes our bodies to run on adrenaline which should be reserved for an emergency fight or flight situation. If this continues unchecked it will cause all the above situations as well as a breakdown in body systems overtime. It is extremely important for those cortisol levels to ebb and flow on a daily basis so that energy and rest ebb and flow as well. This is a healthy life.
Joy is part of our DNA and creative makeup. If that is ignored for other more stressful thoughts, it will cause spiritual breakdown as well as physical malfunction. In the midst of change, the things that bring us joy can be a stabilizing factor. In difficult situations it can be the one consistent part of our lives.
"I suspect that the more we want to finish or achieve before we die, the more likely we are to die before we're finished!" Dr. Archibald D. Hart, The Hidden Link Between Adrenaline and Stress
One simple way to bring blood pressure and stress levels down is taking time out to do deep breathing exercises. You can do these anywhere. Preferably sitting in a relaxed position, inhale slowly and deeply for 4 counts and the breathe out slowly for 4. Repeat this 5 to 6 times. That's it. BUT when you're finished use this more relaxed state to rise slowly and move naturally into you next activity.
So what brings you joy? laughter? Walking in the woods, being creative, reading a book, talking with friends, listening to music…. Everyone is different, but whatever it is, make a habit of it. If you have to make plans for it in the middle of a crazy schedule, do it! Whatever it takes, find your happy place. We can remind ourselves of the good things in our lives by making a list. The things we take for granted, may be the things that we need to intentionally be thankful for. If there's one thing that the Covid crisis has shown me, it is that the simple things of life are some of the most wonderful. Right now in autumn, the colors of the leaves are inspiring and refreshing, even though it means the cold weather is on the way. When that happens, snuggling up in front of my woodstove with a good book and hot chocolate will be my new happy place.
Money getting short? Finding new ways to satisfy time at home instead of travel, frugal habits instead of buying unneeded things, creating necessary items out of stuff around the house. I remember a story that an aunt told me about living during the depression. They didn't have money for new shoes, so when the soles would get holes in them, they would take old tire tubes and cut innersoles to slip inside of them. When the weather was colder, they would make them out of sheepskin. She and her siblings were always competing to see who could come up with the next best thing. She always laughed at those memories as some of the best times in her life.
"Of all the beautiful truths pertaining to the soul, none is more gladdening or fruitful of divine promise and confidence than this - that man can be master of thought, the molder of character, and the maker and shaper of condition, environment, and destiny." James Allen, As A Man Thinketh
The holiday of thankfulness is coming but we don't have to wait until the end of November. Joy is something we need every day. Happy Thanksgiving, starting today!!
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