Tuesday, January 23, 2007

How Low Can You Go?

Tension is who you think you should be. Relaxation is who you are. ~Chinese Proverb

What a strange winter it has been so far in Northern Michigan. We only have two inches of snow, which we acquired just last night. And we have not had any snow on the ground since around the first of December. As I waked through the woods each day, the paths made by me and the dogs are so very clear. And the paths made by the deer are even more evident. Without the snow and with the undergrowth dormant, the earth around me is experiencing low-level stress. It's sad. The stress is nothing the earth won't survive, but it's there. And the impact on vegetation will last long into this new year.

So as I walk, I think why would it be any different for us? We all know immediate and sudden stress when we experience it. Our body rises to a challenge and prepares to meet the situation. But lasting low-level stress can sometimes be elusive and go unnoticed for a long time until we find ourselves, like the little patch of earth around my home, exposed. Signs that we have low-level stress in our life often manifest in the form of feeling constantly hurried, moodiness, allergies, and sleeping problems. The earth around me this winter is definitely having a sleeping problem.

Some of the common causes of low-level stress are relationship problems, crammed schedules, a minor health problem as simple as a sore body part or a change in vision that has not been addressed yet, and constant but subtle noise. These can be little things, but they eat away at us each day.

I've said it many times. And at the risk of being overly repetitive, I hesitate to say it again. But you all know me well enough to forgive my rants so here it is. Resolutions tend to cause stress. So if you're going to make one in 2007, make one to reduce the low-level stress in your life. As 2007 unfolds, take a stand:
Leave loads of open space in your schedule.
Allow yourself to be imperfect.
Get more than enough sleep.
Notice your little thoughts and make them good ones.
Solve little problems quickly.
Breathe deeply.
Tend to a little patch of earth around you. You both will benefit.
And blow the stink off by walking the path less traveled.

Have an outstanding 2007.

As I like to do, I thought I would share with you a quote or two about the topic. So I went on a quick search for quotes about stress. Oh my, there's a lot written. So here's a little reminder for each month of the upcoming year.

January 2007
The man who doesn't relax and hoot a few hoots voluntarily, now and then, is in great danger of hooting hoots and standing on his head for the edification of the pathologist and trained nurse, a little later on. ~Elbert Hubbard

February 2007
Sometimes the most important thing in a whole day is the rest we take between two deep breaths. ~Etty Hillesum

March 2007
Stress is basically a disconnection from the earth, a forgetting of the breath. Stress is an ignorant state. It believes that everything is an emergency. Nothing is that important. Just lie down. ~Natalie Goldberg

April 2007
Sometimes it's important to work for that pot of gold. But other times it's essential to take time off and to make sure that your most important decision in the day simply consists of choosing which color to slide down on the rainbow. ~Douglas Pagels, These Are the Gifts I'd Like to Give to You

May 2007
The mark of a successful man is one that has spent an entire day on the bank of a river without feeling guilty about it. ~Author Unknown

June 2007
Half our life is spent trying to find something to do with the time we have rushed through life trying to save. ~Will Rogers

July 2007
Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer's day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time. ~J. Lubbock

August 2007
To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring - it was peace. ~Milan Kundera

September 2007
Slow down and everything you are chasing will come around and catch you. ~John De Paola

October 2007
How beautiful it is to do nothing, and then to rest afterward. ~Spanish Proverb

November 2007
Loafing needs no explanation and is its own excuse. ~Christopher Morley

December 2007
There is precious little hope to be got out of whatever keeps us industrious, but there is a chance for us whenever we cease work and become stargazers. ~H.M. Tomlinson

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