Seasons approach us with so much promise, and then they’re gone in the blink of an eye. Spring promises me gorgeous weather, gardening, sunshine, flowers and more time spent outside. Summer promises me happiness of sunray goose-pimples, a nice tan, and extra time with the kids. Fall offers the promise of pumpkin recipes and a relief from the heat with it’s cooler evenings. Winter teases me with anticipation for my favorite holiday and spending time with family. But they all arrive slowly, and then leave so fast. I feel this way every season. So many mixed feelings! We break the year up into “quarterlies”, seasons, school years/breaks, and/or holidays. And we spend each part trying to make the best of it by doing everything it could possibly offer us. By the time September rolls around, for instance, we have emptied our mental, physical and emotional stores of energy and we are OVER the packing, unpacking, road trips, airports, house guests, volunteer projects, kids home from school acting like jumping beans 24/7, camps, weddings, and for a lot of families; moving and/or catching up on all those household projects and repairs. Not to mention extra energy drained from hotter temperatures outdoors. Yet we spent January through May counting down the days to summer! Because – in the summer- we can relax! Right?
We usually end up stressing about not stressing. We can’t slow down enough to enjoy the moment, which is what we crave and look forward to anyway. I’ll keep using summer as my example: we just wish it were here so we could take the kids on vacations and road trips, not have to pack lunches every night, sleep in, and stay up late. But in our anticipation for summer, we neglect the abundance of Spring by spending every free moment planning our summer. And if Summer were a plate of food and our eyes were bigger than our stomachs, we will serve up more than we can eat. This goes for every holiday, every season, every vacation… every… thing.
And it’s our fault. We do this to ourselves. Our inability to live in the moment, silence our minds, be alone with quiet, or not have any kind of stimulation going at all times is what keeps our stress levels so high. Don’t blame the economy, traffic or some fight with your partner. That’s all just life. Blame the stuff you have control over! The stuff you bring on yourself because silence is so uncomfortable to you, you can’t sit still for 8 seconds. Or because the thought of “not having a plan” makes you so incredibly anxious you have to book your flights 6mo in advance and spend those 6 months “planning” every detail so that nothing can go wrong, because if something went wrong- it’d be a stressful situation. Well congratulations on saving yourself one potential stress trigger by stressing over it half the year!
Relax. Think about what makes you happy. Like REALLY happy. Having your kids signed up for 9 different summer camps (so they can experience “everything”), and making sure all of your free time is “utilized” with trips and activities is not what makes you happy. It makes you feel like you’re doing all of the things you should be doing, and if you can do them all, then you are successful. But you missed the entire break carpooling, packing, unpacking, writing packing lists, driving for 12 hours or running through airports. Cute huh? I’m sure the kids/in-laws/family/friends (etc) loved it.
Think about what you really love about each season of the year and write them down. Consider what makes you happy and how you can share that with the people you love. You can do this without making plans and filling up your calendar. Live in the moment. Appreciate every moment for what it’s offering you. Don’t waste a beautiful holiday or season or vacation trying to fill in every gap you see. Flow. Accept peace in your life and learn from the quiet moments when you wake up and realize you don’t have one thing planned for the day. Ask yourself: What would make me happy today? Do the first thing that comes into your mind. And take the person closest to you along for the ride.
Stress is the precursor in every single disease man has known. If we can eliminate or reduce the amount of stress we bring on ourselves, we can make a huge impact on our health, fitness and longevity. Seasons do not last forever. But memories do. Don’t look back and remember blurry images of life on fast-forward. Live and enjoy yourself so that you can look back and have HD-clear snapshots of a perfect moment you soaked in because you were not distracted by STRESS.