One morning last week, as I crawled out of my car in the predawn hours to go for a run with a friend, I noticed that the sky seemed to have more stars in it than usual. When my friend trudged up her driveway, also still groggy from sleep, she followed my gaze up to the sky. For a few moments, we stood in stark wonder, truly in awe of the sight before us. A solid five minutes passed before we broke our trance and began running. And the stars followed us.
As we ran, we talked about the stars and the vast enormousness of the universe. We talked about the eclipse and our memories of the solar eclipse we both experienced as children. And the stars followed us.
We talked about the news, and feeling conflicted between wanting to be informed citizens and also wanting to bury our heads in the sand. We talked about our kids’ first week of school, and how aware they were about current events, and part of us hoped they were blissfully absorbed in their own middle-school worlds and unaware of the tornado swirling around them. And, yes, we looked up at the stars, and they were still there, a silent part of our conversation.
Things feel really big right now. Sometimes they feel so big that the pressure of processing our world today is overwhelming. And sometimes, looking at the stars and thinking about what else is out there besides us, it helps to remember that we are but specks. We are a blip on the radar of time. The stars gaze silently down at us as we scurry about, trying to turn this planet of ours into something we can be proud of, and they have seen it before. We are nothing new.
We live in stressful times, as have many before us. We have an advantage though, that our ancestors did not. We know more now than ever about the power of the resilient mind to keep us calm, strong, and present as we tackle some of the biggest issues of our day. It’s as if the stars are patiently waiting for us to look up, feel small, and check our egos at the door.
If the daily barrage of current events is beginning to take it’s toll, take advantage of what we know about how to cope:
Talk About It
We were not meant to shoulder life’s burdens alone, and resilient people know and remember this. Talk with friends who share your viewpoint. Talk with folks who don’t. Talk to people about completely different subjects; laugh, appreciate the lighter side of life. Whether you connect with a friend or a therapist, talking about what you’re experiencing is a key step in relieving stress and moving beyond it.
Take Positive Action
History shows us that resilient people and teams have something in common: they take positive action and become part of the solution to the problems they face. Positive action doesn’t have to solve everything or be something big; it just needs to be a step in the right direction. Stomp around, shake your fists, shout your protest, and then do something positive to change things in your pocket of the world.
Stay Active and Sleep Well
Even the most powerful, robust machines need maintenance. For our bodies, that maintenance is exercise and sleep. Healthy food helps, too! A brisk walk can clear a cluttered mind, and a good sweat-fest can fill you with energy. A good night’s sleep gives your body - and your busy mind - the time it needs to recover and embrace another day. It is worth the time it takes to make these things happen!
In the moments that the noise of the world around us becomes a clashing cymbal, just breathe. In that moment, close your eyes, inhale deeply through your nose, hold that moment, and exhale slowly through your mouth. Repeat four or five times, or until you feel calm again. It may help to internally chant a mantra like, “this too shall pass,” or “I can handle anything.” Both are true!
About thirty minutes later, my friendand I arrived back at her driveway. The sun was beginning to dim the brilliance of the stars, and we commented that we had been lucky to see the most dramatic part of their show. I walked to my car to drive home, and my radio came to life with a news update. I turned it off. I looked up at the sky. I couldn’t really see the stars anymore, but I knew they were there, watching us. And waiting.
About This Blog
Each week, I write the "Healthy Heather Blog" in the Tallahassee Democrat. It is republished here in case you are not a subscriber (what???). Sometimes it is really good and other times it is just okay. Thanks for reading it regardless of your opinion!