Less Stress!

My Dear “Kindred Spirit,”

My goodness… what a year this is turning out to be!! Lately my life has been taking turns I never expected it to, and I’ve found myself going places and doing things I never would have dreamed of a year or so ago.

Makes me think of one of my favorite quotes: “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans” (- Allen Saunders).

Or one of my other favorites, from a Statler Brothers song: “things get complicated when you get past 18.”

Ok, ok, I’ll stop… I know I tend to get a little carried away with quotes sometimes.

But it’s true! Life just happens sometimes, and there’s not much we can do about it… time marches on, whether we want it to or not.

So my last “health” type post I was talking about food stress, and how I’ve decided that it’s not worth stressing out about what I’m eating.

You know, we underestimate the toxicity of stress. We seem to think that there’s nothing we can do about stress, so we just live with it. We tend to think that the amount of stress we’re dealing with in our lives is out of our control.

To a certain extent, that’s true. Life is always gonna happen. There’s always gonna be change, things going wrong, and difficult times.

But we can make choices to downplay the stress. We can make choices to lessen the stressful situations we place ourselves in, and to deal with inherently stressful situations in ways that are a little kinder to ourselves.

I feel so unqualified to be writing this… Handling stressful situations is not something I do well.

There’s no doubt in my mind that stress has played – and is still playing – a huge role in my life.

So what do I do about it? What do I do to be kinder to myself and lessen the stress??

I don’t know, honestly…

I have a few ideas I’m trying to implement, though.

1. Trust.

Trust that God cares. Trust that he’s looking out for you. That you matter to him, your life matters to him, and he wants what’s best for you.

When I can pause in the middle of a stressful situation, breathe a little, and say to myself “God’s got this. He has my back. I’ll survive. He’ll get me through this.” It makes ALL the difference in the world.

It’s not always easy to do, but when I make myself slow down and rest in the knowledge that God IS in control, even of whatever crazy situation I’m in the middle of… wow! Instant stress relief!

2. Let yourself be human!

All my life, I’ve tried very hard to not fail.

I am very much a doer, and a people pleaser. And for many, many years I’ve believed that my value as a person was directly tied to whether everyone else was happy with me, and how well I had my act together. Talk about a fast track to emotional burnout!!

I’ve always been that nice girl everyone likes, because I would never do anything unlikeable. My greatest fear was that I would be a failure and no one would like me. So I kept trying to keep everyone happy, and stressing out about it when I didn’t think I was succeeding.

And it’s only been within the past several months that I’ve started to realize that I can try all I want, and I’ll still fail. All the trying in the world can’t keep me from being human and making mistakes.

And that’s ok!!

Being human doesn’t make me worthless! Messing up, making mistakes, failing, doesn’t mean I’m worthless!!

Stop trying to please everyone. Stop trying to fix everything. Stop trying to be perfect. Stop trying, stop trying, STOP TRYING!!

Just let yourself be human.

3. Focus on doing the good that you can, not stressing about the bad you have very little (or no) control over.

One of the reasons I’m back to eating ice cream is that I got tired of having to focus on everything I couldn’t eat. I was focusing on all the bad I had to avoid. Instead, I wanted to put my time and effort into eating the things I should eat.

So instead of putting the spotlight on all the bad foods best avoided, I’m gonna throw that spotlight on all the good foods I should be eating, and make the effort to eat more of those rather than freak out and give myself a guilt trip when ice cream happens.

Little bunny trail here, but this summer is fermented foods! That’s my summer goal: eat some fermented foods every day. Kombucha, Sauerkraut, Yogurt, I’m even attempting some fermented salsa… If it works I’ll be sooo happy! I love salsa. Oh, and cheese (especially raw milk cheese) totally counts as a fermented food, too. Hmmm… so does wine, doesn’t it?? This could get FUN! 😀 I may even give kefir another try if I can get my hands on some kefir “grains.” (Now that I’m in the south and safely away from THAT DOG… but that’s another story for another day).

But (bunny trail over) this isn’t just about food. It can apply to pretty much anything. For example:

The other night I went to a concert in the park. There was a bluegrass band playing and they were good. It got me on a “fiddlin’ kick,” and the next day I was playing around on my violin, trying different fiddle tunes. I realized (again) that I’m not a good fiddle player. I’m not even a good violin player. It’s been too many years since I was in college, playing Bach and Wieniawski. I could totally spend way too much time thinking about that and stressing out about all the skills I’ve lost these past few years, beating myself up about not practicing more…

But you know what?? I can still sit out on the porch and play “Be Thou My Vision.” I can wander around the front yard and play “For the Beauty of the Earth” or “Be Still My Soul” (in 2 octaves!). So I’m focusing on that, and the enjoyment I get from doing that, rather than on the fact that I can’t even begin to play the music I knew 3 or 4 years ago.

We’ve all got things we’re not so good at. Areas of life we don’t do so well in. Stop stressing about them! Focus on the good. Don’t ignore the areas that need work, but don’t start thinking that you are your failures and mistakes.

Ok, that’s it. I’m out of ideas…

Here’s to less stress and more Kombucha! (and yogurt and wine and cheese and salsa and…)

Love, N.

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