This week saw the launch of phase 12 (?) of my never-ending, multi-closet organizational project. Like bunnies popping from a magician’s hat, the stuff (junk) I find seems to keep multiplying..it’s the oddest thing!!
During this most recent sweep I did however stumble upon some interesting stuff including a long lost recipe for the best Sangria I ever made and a Martha Beck article I tore out of a 2015, Oprah magazine about relaxing. Too bad I didn’t read it BEFORE my flu-shot panic at the grocery store.
Here (in a nutshell) are Martha’s tips on living a more relaxed life:
- RELAX ABOUT THE NEED TO RELAX- Quit trying so hard to be chill. Accept your tension, your anger and your fears at this moment. Acknowledge your feelings, observe them and tell yourself this is just presently the way it is. It will pass, but for now just open your umbrella and deal with the rain until the cloud moves on.
- RELAX YOUR ATTENTION- Now this is an interesting exercise. You know how they always tell you to focus on one thing to help yourself calm down in a panic? Well this is just step one..focus on one thing..step two is to widen your focus and slowly take note of every single thing in your field of vision that surrounds the first object you focused on. Don’t just look at everything, calmly make a mental note of every object you see. This is actually a super effective exercise for instant relaxation and distraction when you are stressed out.
- RELAX INTO REALITY- Stop trying to change that which is beyond your control. I can think of about ten things right off the bat that I wish I could change starting with this freaking pandemic, but guess what? For now at least, this is the reality we are living in. Accepting reality gets us over the depressing cycle of waking up each morning and cursing our situation as if it is a brand new, (breaking news!) fresh predicament we find ourselves in.
- RELAX YOUR UNATTAINABLE STANDARDS- I found this step to be pretty thought provoking. I’ll admit, I’m hard on myself..aren’t you? The bigger issue is that we are just as hard on others. Case in point-I have spent several days being SUPER critical of almost every car salesmen we have dealt with in our quest to find a new vehicle. One older salesman was so clueless about the vehicle he was showing us..he didn’t even know how to move the seat forward! I have shared that story with several friends..probably adding a few extra annoying observations each time I recount it. Beck would challenge me to take a moment to consider what it must be like to live that salesman’s life.. Did this guy ever envision himself working 7 days a week selling cars in his 60s? He told us his son was a second year med student- is this dad helping to pay his tuition? Maybe, like me, modern tech is a challenge for him. Martha encourages us to own up to how harshly we judge others.. to consider their right to exist and to feel and to deserve our compassion. How many of us have reduced those who don’t meet “our standards” into something less than human? We ridicule them, we denigrate them, we mercilessly attack them and condemn them. Exactly who do we think we are??..and importantly, how does this attitude of “superior standards” add to our own stress?
- RELAX YOUR RESISTANCE TO UNCERTAINTY- My 89 year old mom is still the ultimate control freak..which has made the last few weeks excruciatingly tough for her as she recovers from a hospital and rehab stay after a serious fall. Doctor appointments, care-givers, prescription changes..everything is in constant flux. As she vented her frustration the other day I encouraged her to let go of trying to manage everything herself and to trust those who are helping her through this period. I need to listen to my own advice in this regard.. if the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that uncertainty is part of life. We can choose the insanity that comes from trying to control everything and everyone, or choose to lean into the uncertainty that is woven into the fabric of life..to trust ‘our path,’ to relax into our journey and allow ourselves to enjoy the ride- even when we don’t know what’s around every corner.