In the backyard snuggled up to our deck there is a glorious oak tree. It provides the most perfect sun and shade over the deck. In the morning hours sunlight filters through the leaves and branches warming up everything. In the afternoon and evening there is shade allowing enjoyment of the outdoors without getting steamy hot.
Every year around July this oak tree begins the annual tradition of dropping acorns. When the acorns first start dropping there are a few here and there, scattered on the deck and surrounding lawn. In August things ramp up with the number of acorns dropping increasing significantly making their crashes heard throughout the house. There have been years that neighbors have shared they had difficulty sleeping because of the volume and loudness of the acorns dropping. Typically by the end of September this process is all completed so when the leaves begin to drop the acorns are done.
This year there is no signs of any acorn droppage stopping. None whatsoever. None. You think they are done and then boom a plethora of acorns drop. The other day after doing the regular acorn sweeping of the deck when I returned home after work after a windy afternoon the deck was covered in more acorns than I had ever seen in one drop. I thought by now this process must be done yet the deck was littered. I do appreciate this beautiful oak tree. I do appreciate this tree is healthy and is doing what mother earth wants it to do to grow more trees. However after three going on four months I was feeling done with it. Tired of sweeping. Tired of getting stung by acorns hitting me. Just tired of it all.
As I was gazing outside at all the acorns all over the deck I reflected that life can be well, acornish. There are times when an event or events are occur over a period of time where you keep cleaning up, stepping in, taking care of things, get hit on the head by something you do not want, enjoy or that hurt, think it is done only to get a lot of stuff in your life get thrown at you which makes you stressed. You think those stressful times are over and bam there is a whole lot of stuff for you to deal with. It can seem that the sky is falling and that the light at the end of your tunnel is a group of acorns dropping all over your tidy deck.
Yet my mindset, my perception, just like all of you, play a significant part in how I handle my ongoing acorn overflow, my stress. If every time I see more and more acorns my thoughts are “why does this keep happening to me” “why won’t this stop” or “what did I do to bring this” I am speaking to myself and my life as a victim. I am bringing myself down instead of powering myself up. When I see my acorns I do have an aaarrgghhh moment. Then I change to okay, what am I going to do to take care of these acorns and take care of me. I empower myself. Words we say about ourselves, and others, matter as they reflect our inner feelings about ourselves. Words can hurt and words can heal.
“When life puts you in tough situations don’t say “why me,” say “try me.” Author Unknown
In an article in Hey Sigmund titled “Rethinking Stress: How changing your thinking could save your life” talks about seeing stress in a positive framework can help your brain and body deal with stress in a healthier way.
“Stress is there to help us to survive, not to harm us. Of course, it doesn’t always work out like this but according to research, this is due to our perception of stress, rather than the stress itself. The good news about perception is that changing it is something we can control.
How? Two words – positive reappraisal – which really just means change the way you think about it to change its emotional impact. The idea is to rethink stress to be something positive, rather than something harmful. We know from tons of research that the way you think about something will effect how you feel about it. Here are two ways to do this: Frame stress as a challenge rather than a threat. When you do this, you become alive to the opportunities, rather than the threats.
Frame stress as a challenge rather than a threat. When you do this, you become alive to the opportunities, rather than the threats. Rather than thinking of stress as the enemy, think of it as something that’s going to energize you and get your body ready to perform at its prime.
Your heart might feel like it’s about to beat itself out of your chest – but that’s okay, because it’s getting the oxygen to your brain so you can do what you need to do to shine. Your body might be shaking, but that’s just energy – positioning you for a stellar performance.”
How you approach the stress in your life will have a direct connection to how you handle your stress. What you do when going through stressful events does NOT have to cause you more harm. In the Ted Talk “How to make stress your friend” Kelly McGonigal shares some powerful information regarding stress.
“I want to finish by telling you about one more study. And listen up, because this study could also save a lift. This study tracked about 1,000 adults in the United States, and they ranged in age from 34 to 93, and they started the study by asking, “How much stress have you experienced in the last year?” They also asked, “How much time have you spent helping out friends, neighbors, people in your community?” And then they used public records for the next five years to find out who died.
Oka, so the bad news first. For every major stressful like experience, like financial difficulties or family crisis, that increased the risk of dying by 30 percent. But that isn’t true for everyone. People who spent time caring for others showed absolutely no stress-related increase in dying. Zero. Caring created resilience.
What you do in your life, especially when stressed, matters in how stress impacts you. Being kind, helpful, giving to others when you are stressed gives your body they extra power it needs so that stress will not be hurtful to you. Facing stress head on with a “I’ve got this” mindset, reaching out and letting your supports be supportive are healthy, resilient ways of handing your stress. Don’t let your stress define you. You need to be all your glorious you despite your stress. I believe in you!
While I am sitting here writing this the acorns are dropping away placing themselves all over the deck. That’s totally cool as I’ve got this. I will go out, pick them up, control what I can control that will make me feel good, and then go help my neighbors with theirs. Once that is done guess what is next? Yep picking up the leaves after they fall🍁
May your stress be with you💜
I am attaching Kelly McGonigal’s Ted Talk “How to Make Stress your Friend.” It is worth watching.