So, yesterday something unexpected happened. Being on holiday I’m crashing at my sister’s house, (where my mom, and the most beautiful lag-free wifi are also found). We didn’t really have any plans – see where the day takes us kind of thing, but agreed to take it at a slow pace…
And surprise! A friend in a bind asks us to take her to the airport, (it’s a forty-five minute drive) and we need to be there in an hour. Que rushing out of bed and getting ready for the day in fifteen minutes! And we’re off. My mother in all her wisdom decides to make the best of our change of plans and stop by the beach after dropping our friend at the airport. Sidenote here: I loooooooooooove the beach, well the ocean really, but in this case – same thing.
No matter how hectic life is, no matter what storms are wrestling in my mind or in my soul, when I’m by the ocean, sitting on the rocks and just watching and listening to the waves come and go, I’m just calm. It soothes my soul. Whatever stresses are on my shoulders just get washed away, carried away with the waves breaking on the rocks. The ultimate power of the ocean, the heart-crushing sound of the roaring waves, it just takes me away to a place where I can just breathe. Enjoy the calm and quiet of just being “here” (on earth – like, neither angels nor aliens have the privilege of just sitting by the ocean pondering.)
It clears my mind. It inspires me. I’d like nothing more than to sit on the rocks, listen, feel, and write. I also enjoy climbing over rock pools and looking for little fishies that are blissfully unaware something 200 times their size is staring at their zebra-stripes in fascination. (I won’t go on about water-sports here). I often run around looking for little treasures, rare finds, shells or pretty little rocks, even pieces of glass that have been perfectly smoothed by the motion of water over time.
I can’t get to the ocean as often as I’d like (fuel price, mainly), but when I do, I find my sense of inner peace, my sense of calm, no matter what weight was on my shoulders, I always come home relaxed, over-joyed, and peaceful. So peaceful. Because I left my stress there. For a few moments (or hours) I could be carried away and focused on something a million times greater than myself.
(I’m seeing now that this will be quite a long post, please bear with me.)
Something else occurred to me while I was climbing on the rocks. As the high tide started coming in, in the spot I was standing, right on the edge where the water should have taken me over or at least splashed over my feet, besides the spray from the waves crashing on the rocks, the water didn’t reach me. It was all around, and as it was, was not a calm day for the ocean, still, although it was rough seas and coming in all around me, I remained dry. The water didn’t even soak through the soles of my sneakers, though it seemed it would. It made me think. Life is not always easy. Sometimes severe storms come our way. Sometimes out of nowhere. Sometimes life really hits you a with a low blow – but it matters where you stand. If I were standing on a different rock, ironically further away from the edge than I was, I would have been washed over. It matters where you stand. Are you standing firm in who you are? Are you holding on to something greater? If you know where, or on what, you’re standing, life can throw just about anything your way, and you WILL be able to handle it. Humans are so much stronger, and so much more resilient than we think. Whenever your waves are crashing all around, look at where you’re standing, and stand firm.
Another thing that came to mind was the current. Currents can be strong and deceitful, and can carry you out kilometers in the opposite direction. If you have ever been caught in a current you will know – swimming against it is exhausting! Sometimes if you’re standing on the pier and looking down, you can see where the currents are and trace them for quite a distance. However, when you’re the one caught in the current, the best thing to do, is to conserve energy, and let it carry you out. Hopefully the one you’re caught in will wash out close to shore – sometimes a good couple of kilometers away, but none the less, close to shore. Sometimes life throws you something, something overwhelming, something terrible, but fighting against it will bring you nowhere and wear you out. Sometimes you just have to go with it and see what life brings. In those cases hold on to the the ones who will find you, and help you, when you reach the other side of the shore.
Finding your calm in the midst of chaos and stress is vital to our survival. Okay, I mean vital to having fulfilled happy lives without being turned into stressed-out work robots. Here are a few quick things you can do to take some time and relax, in the midst of chaos to keep/find your inner calm. Also, when we are calm, (err, not stressed out) we are more efficient workers, better problem-solvers, and just generally nicer people.
- Keep a “gratitude journal”. Take a few moments each day and write down things you are grateful for. Even ridiculous things (we have oxygen on earth, music exists, that major report that was due on Friday we managed to hand in on-time.)
- Do some of that “adult-colouring.” And yes, it has been psychologically proven to relieve stress and be therapeutic. (Free printables here, and here.)
- Listening to music. Some will say calming, peaceful music. Honestly, blasting my heavy metal and putting my head by the speakers does the trick for me – choose something you enjoy. A song is generally less than five minutes long anyway. Listen to it and just get lost in the music for a moment, shed the world, and just listen.
- Breathe. Meditate. Breathe. (It’s healthy!) For one thing, inhaling, holding your breath for ten seconds, and then exhaling (a couple of times) actually forces oxygen to your brain, and more oxygen in your brain means, automatically, a clearer mind. For some more breathing techniques, check it out here, and another few (with videos) here.
- Deal with anxieties head-on. (Admittedly easier said than done.) Is this situation really that dire, is there really no way out of this (or do we just not enjoy the options? Unfortunately life isn’t always all dessert and no vegetables.) Here are some thoughtful ways for dealing with anxiety.
- Out of time? Some ways to chill-out in less than five minutes can be found here.
- And of course, whenever possible, go sit on a rock by the ocean and just take it all in.