The teachings of the wind
As Ashley looks out the window, she notices the wind capturing Fall's colorful leaves and dispersing them. The leaves don’t resist the wind. They don’t seem to mind their constant location change.
Ashley sighs. Life recently has been one major upheaval after another. Where does the time go?
Her husband John had his work hours cut. He is the primary wage earner and carries insurance benefits for the household.
Her car is starting to need expensive repairs.
She spends her afternoon and evenings running the two kids to sports and social events
She shares parent-caregiving responsibilities with her sister Trudy. Trudy is on duty during the week and Ashley takes the weekends.
She has no quiet time for herself nor the energy to schedule time with friends.
Time for a break
Unable to embrace the constant motion happening outside of her, Ashley crams anxiety, overwhelm and uncertainty into her physical body. She hides her stress - unwilling to draw attention to herself or to admit any problems. Ashley notices her body doesn’t know how to relax and step away from stress overload. She lays awake in bed for hours. In this sleepless state Ashely admonishes her body and catalogs everything wrong. Self-bullying is becoming Ashley’s new obsession. She ruminates constantly, accusing her body of failing her.
Trudy, the loving sister, quickly tunes into Ashley’s distress, and reaches out with a few probing questions.
Are you experiencing more pain than usual? For how long? How often?
You said John had to help you get your clothes on. Why is that?
A body in overdrive
Ashley’s desire to hide her stress is a common human theme. The shocking aspect is how much we underestimate stress’ toll on our physical body. When we pump stress into the body it blows fear in all directions. Unlike leaves which roll with the breeze and get on with their day, our bodies respond by zooming into overdrive. What does a body in distress look like?
Unexplainable joint pain
Power lies in the courage to say "NO" to stress. Literally. If we believe in our ability to create stress, we must recognize our power to override negativity and combat it daily. Focusing on wellness means devoting attention and energy to insure we maintain the following:
Joints are flexible with free range of motion
Jaw is relaxed
Nervous system is neutral
Back posture improves
Get up and go
Later that day Ashley returns to the window and again notices the leaves. She says to herself:
“If the leaves can survive change, so can I. My body needs attention. I can no longer tolerate a steady diet of stress and anxiety.”
She searches online for possible solutions. Here’s what she finds:
Get rid of stress in 60 seconds
25 ways to reduce stress
Quick relief from stress
A plan unfolds
Ashley clicks on a couple sites. Within minutes she is confronted with endless ways to de-stress. Ashley calls Trudy and tells her she is in crisis and wants to do something about it. Trudy comes over, and together the sisters agree that most likely Ashley’s physical pain stems from her emotions. While a health checkup is part of the “get well” list, Ashley sees that it is time to work with a professional who embraces a holistic approach defined as: “The belief that unconditional love and support is the most powerful healer and a person is ultimately responsible for his or her own health and well-being."
Ashley’s goals: to let go of the past, be present, create balance and be friends with her body. So far the plan looks like this:
Wake up 30 minutes early to do something positive for herself. To make it fun, Ashley has a different morning routine Monday through Friday.
Mindfulness Monday (mind)
Transformational Tuesday (spirit)
Wellness Wednesday (body)
Inspirational Thursday (emotions)
Freedom Fridays (self-care)
Starting a restful night-time ritual to relax her body.
Every night at 8:00 Ashley plays peaceful music throughout the house.
She puts her phone in the charger for the night.
Once the kids are in bed, Ashley and John share what they’re grateful for and what they’re looking forward to.
Ashley goes to bed and imagines how she is meeting her personal goals.
She sincerely believes the world is a beautiful place because she is in it.
She smiles for herself, her body and her beloveds.
Ashley and Trudy make adjustments to the caregiving schedule so they can spend time with their families.
These days Ashley doesn’t spend much time looking out the window. She walks herself outside and gets in touch with nature. The leaves crunch under her feet while the sun warms her heart. When she looks up at the endless blue sky, Peace, Love and Joy fill Ashley’s heart. All is well.