As I sat on a ferry to Pelee Island on Labour Day, the last day of summer vacation. I took the time to contemplate the pressure cooker type stress that we put upon ourselves.
On that last day of summer vacation I had fallen into the "need to do more" trap. The need to squeeze one last adventure into our time together. Whether we liked it or not (and at 6:00am on the last day of summer vacation the majority vote was NOT) we were going to spend the last day of summer as a family enjoying the great outdoors and experiencing one more thing this summer!
I made the ferry reservations, planned and packed a picnic lunch, packed swimsuits, towels, etc. all the necessities of a day on the beach, waded my way through teenage negativity all morning just to make sure that my children had more to share with their friends on their return to school the next day.
It made me crazy. I didn't look like a woman having fun in those early moments.
It's the same thing that happens during holidays for most people. That anxiety that wells up inside of you that tells you, you just have to do SOMETHING! Because just sitting around would be a shame. Not having a big gathering with dinner and all the festivities would be wrong! Wouldn't it?
How many people do you know who suffer panic and anxiety attacks throughout the Christmas holidays?
My dad used to call me from the toy department in Zellers in a full blown anxiety attack over which toy to buy my children for Christmas. I told him it wasn't worth it and ushered him to the clothing department. He thereafter was called the "clothes Grandpa" by my children because Dad would always buy them clothes to avoid the anxiety that choosing the perfect toy always created.
There is no need for this anxiety. It is fueled by the society in which we live, the status quo that says we need to be, do and have more every minute of every day. This thought process and way of living can and must be removed from our lives. I believe that the first step to overcoming this thought process is to acknowledge that it is present in our lives. If we can start to see that these thoughts aren't connected to what we truly desire then they don't have much power over us.
It is okay to not have a big fancy dinner if what you are wanting is a small family gathering without fanfare. It is okay to declare that you will be donating to a local food bank in lieu of expensive and useless Christmas presents. It is okay to sit around all summer long and do nothing more productive than allowing your body and mind to relax. In fact that is probably the most productive thing you can do! It is okay to be bored, lazy, tired, etc.
Stepping away from societal expectations is the first step in truly knowing yourself, and releasing the grip that stress and anxiety have on you.
We can begin a new life filled with more joy and less stress, just by becoming more aware.