I sometimes feel overwhelmed by life's burdens. Just the other day I was driving alone in my car and I realized, in that moment, how small I had made my world. I had spent 20 minutes driving yet all I could think about were the things causing me stress. I hadn't thought about the other people on the road with me, considered whether I was driving carefully, or even troubled myself to consider solutions to my worries. The reality is, I was worrying about the same things that eat up most of our worried minds: the future, plans, finances, saying the wrong thing, so on and so forth. I was allowing my past and my future to consume my present and could feel the discomfort spread: first my chest, then my stomach, and then my head. Then something special happened - I glanced to the left and saw a blooming crepe myrtle.
I don't have a green thumb or know much about trees, but I remember living in an apartment complex about a decade ago that had sidewalks lined with crepe myrtle trees and they were beautiful, though not year round. From then on, I looked forward to seeing the first blooms because it happened so quickly and they filled the world with color - white, magenta, red. I also associate it with the beginning of Spring, which for me is an easier season to love than Winter.
But this isn't really about the beauty and wonder of crepe myrtle trees or Spring, but rather, having something to look forward to, especially during tough times. Luckily, the things that you and I worry about most of the time are not things that are life threatening. They bring us fear due to uncertainty and lack of control, and we can feel this fear in every ounce of our body, mind, and relationships. The stress can't kill us, but it can feel paralyzing.
I'm a bit anxious by nature, so I've collected a number of different coping mechanisms to help when I'm feeling overwhelmed or panicky. But there are circumstances where I know my mind might be a bit more worried until the passing of an event, such as waiting on the results of something. And in these conditions, I rely on another set of skills to keep me grounded and at peace. I ensure that there are things in my day and life that I enjoy, such as taking five minutes to meditate with the crepe myrtle trees. When I have a busy day scheduled, I treat myself to a breakfast and fancy coffee or plan a dinner I can look forward to throughout the day. When I know a couple of weeks will be more stressful for me, I carve out extra time for my friends and plan ways to pamper myself during the week (hello epsom salt bath on a Wednesday). I've learned to be gentle with myself.
We need not feel all the worry all the time. So find (or rediscover!) the things you enjoy and make time for them, especially when life asks a lot of you. Your body will thank you, your mind will thank you, and your people will thank you.