From Pipi’s Pasture: Beating stress
Imagine a tall bookcase that’s standing next to a wall. It’s filled with books, framed photos, and knick knacks, the usual things that you might find in a bookcase. Suddenly, something happens to knock the bookcase to one side so now it’s in a tilted position. Books fly off onto the floor and some of the other items break, spreading glass everywhere. The books, photos, and knick knacks that remain on the shelves have become rearranged.
That’s how I picture the world right now. With the COVID pandemic and political and social turmoil, it seems as if the earth has somehow become tilted, leaving tragedy and everything out of place. Because life is no longer stable, adults and young people alike are experiencing some degree of stress right now, and I’m no different. However, I’m finding ways to beat the stress—all of them by finding positives.
For one thing, I can feel the isolation left from social distancing. Being a “people person,” I have missed the one-on-one contact with family, friends, students, and colleagues. Over the past sixteen months or so I have been teaching by phone, the distance learning way. I’m fortunate to be able to work this way, and though I have quite a lot of contact by voice, it just isn’t the same as being face-to-face. So I make the most of occasional visits from my sons’ families who are out of state and my brother Duane who lives nearby.
In addition, I write notes and letters to family members as often as I can. According to experts, writing to and receiving the written word from others activates brain chemicals, leaving both senders and recipients feeling happier. So does writing my column each week. Positives, indeed.
I’m lucky to be able to live at Pipi’s Pasture where I can enjoy getting out in the fresh air and sunshine. (Being out in the rain yesterday was also rewarding, considering the drought and all.) While I’m outdoors, I’m usually doing some of the chores necessary to take care of the cows. The cow antics, many of which have been topics for my writing, provide plenty of chuckles and help get my body’s “good-feeling “ chemicals flowing. The same goes for being followed around by Helper, the barn cat, who walks along the corral poles as I work, flipping his tail in my face or trying to climb up my legs—all in an effort to get me to pet him. When I do stop and stroke his long black fur, it feels good to me, too. More positives.
Each year at this time I get great satisfaction from visiting the nurseries or plant departments in the stores. I walk up and down the aisles, checking out the vegetable and flowering plants and trying to picture where I will plant some of them when it warms up. This year I’m on the lookout for a viola plant that I have named “Prairie Flower” because I imagine it blooming on prairie fields. I was not able to find this plant last year. The positives from touching all the plants are wonderful.
It’s all about beating stress.
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