Stress is one of those double edged swords. It is a great evolutionary response that triggers the fight or flight mechanism in the brain. It keeps us in tune for dangers in unfamiliar settings and situations. It exaggerates happy emotions of surprise, and of the nervous anticipation of things to come. Unfortunately, stress in large doses is toxic. Gestational women can flood their unborn babies with high levels of stress hormones, that can often lead to premature deliveries and sadly, miscarriages. Infants experiencing long term stress are prone to maladaptive brain functions, cognitive, social and emotional issues, some which may prevail well into adulthood, and others that cause permanent damage. We must shield ourselves from the influence of stress with protective factors, and coping skills that will help to manage difficult situations, even those that are out of our control.
Gardening is my relaxation therapy (no surprise there). But no matter where I am, or what I am doing, I take the time to immerse myself in the language of nature. Laying on the lawn and just staring at the sky gives my brain just enough of a break to recenter. At home, I use a kiddie pool, tropical plants, a beach chair and an umbrella to unwind while sipping on a fruit smoothie and collect my thoughts. Find your favorite relaxation music and allow yourself a break. I like walking near water, and I often take a moment to feel the currents on my toes. Whether you are a garden enthusiast or just enjoy the organized chaos in the wild, take time to breath and what better place than to be surrounded by the thing that produces an unadulterated abundance of oxygen.