Truer words have never been written.
Before I go on, most of the pictures in this blog are random pictures I have taken over the years that give me joy to look at; and in the end, this blog post is about choosing joy. I hope they bring you joy as well.
I have been on a self-betterment journey for nearly ten years. Prior to that time, I was busy raising my kids, taking care of animals and trying to balance my life. Also during this time I had no regard or maybe I just thought I had no choice, in how I reacted. Reacted to everything, anything.. life.
There were plenty of red flags along the way that I should in fact pay attention to my reactions. One time that I will never forget was when my oldest daughter, who has type 1 diabetes, was testing her blood sugar. Back then (20 plus years ago) her glucometer was huge compared to what size they are today. She was testing her blood sugar and was using both her little hands to cover the huge glucometer.
She was forming a shield so I could not see the number. I asked her why she was doing that. She replied "I don't want you to be mad." My heart sank. My over-worried and anxious response to her blood sugar readings looked like anger to her; I was worried, I was not mad, but I always responded emotionally. It's hard not to, having a child with a chronic illness is challenging. I watched my reaction to her blood sugar reading after that, but I didn't put that lesson into the rest of my life until recently.
The truth really is that the only thing that we can control in our lives is our reactions. I only began letting this sink in and learning how to manage my emotions and reactions in the last 5-6 years. That was when the weight of stress and worry began to take its toll on me, physically and mentally.
Initially, I thought I would just create a stress free life, easy peasy, right? Hahahahaha! Nope. Not possible, life is always going to throw things at you, always. So, I began working on how to manage what I had to deal with, what was actually in my control. I did this because I know, we all know, deep down that stress really does kill. Stress does make you sick. Since I couldn't eliminate all of it, I had to learn how to manage it; my reaction.
Before doing the work to manage my reactions my body was fueled by stress and stress hormones, mostly cortisol.
Cortisol is designed to to be used by the body in situations of acute stress and help you deal with physical dangers, in it's primal nature, it was a good thing for our ancestors. They needed it, briefly, to either run from the poisonous snake or hit it with a rock (fight or flight.) In our modern world, we don't need it like they did yet our bodies make it and HOLD ON TO IT, all based on our thoughts and perceived threats. While there is still poisonous snakes to worry about, we are much more likely to encounter a turtle on our walk, than a snake while hunting for dinner.
"When cortisol lingers it sets off an inflammatory response.
Chronic fear, sadness, anger and resentment keeps stress hormones in the body - thus breaking down your immunity, thinning your skin and bones, causes weight gain and sets the stage for poor health including: depression, cancer and heart disease." (Dr. Christiane Northrup, M.D)
This is why I am on a deliberate mission to decrease my cortisol levels. Back to the 90/10; so much of what we encounter on a daily basis is beyond our control. BUT we CAN control our reactions (and keep cortisol down as well) by practicing how we react. It does not come naturally for most of us, it's a process that must be practiced.
Lately, I have had events in my life that are very challenging. So I write this as a person currently still working on it.
This is what has been working for me.
Something happens that triggers an emotional response.
I take it in.
I breathe, in and out slowly.
During this time (less than 10 seconds) I am not thinking of anything, I am just taking my slow in and out breaths, maybe once, maybe twice.
What happens is that the emotional intensity to this information, trigger or event, has minimized greatly in those 10 seconds.
I then react accordingly, and by that I mean I ask myself "can I control this? Can I fix this? Or why is this bothering me?"Often, I have little to no reaction, which is powerful, because I have eliminated the often not useful sometimes harmful, overly emotional reaction. When I have a justified reaction, with this process in place, I am more likely to have a response that will remedy the situation.
The 80/20. This is another tip from Christiane Northrup. M.D. Eat clean, well or at least better 80% of the time. The other 20% of the time, indulge, not overly indulge. Have dessert, eat a snow cone on a hot summer day. As I was writing this (yes, I hand write my thoughts before I type them out) I was enjoying some chocolate chips. A true weakness for me. I have eliminated most refined sugars out of my life, but I will eat birthday cake at a birthday celebration, I will sometimes make brownies for dessert and sometimes I snack on chocolate chips for no other reason other than I simply enjoy them.
I will wind this down with some ideas to help eliminate stress
1.) Again, keep in mind that life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.
2.) Eat something you "shouldn't" every once in awhile
3.) Get lots of Vitamin D! It truly enhances the health of every cell in your body. The recommenced amount of sunlight is 3-15 minutes daily.. that's it! Almost anyone can do that, and if you can't, then talk to your heath care specialist or provider about a reputable Vitamin D supplement.
4.) Let in the negative ions of the Earth. Standing outside barefoot for 20 minutes decreases cellular inflammation in the body.
These are just a few ideas. The bottom line, whatever brings you joy, do that. After-all...