One More Chill Pill. (Affection)

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hug

“Love, love, love!” As the song goes, well it would be nice if we could all be in love (and that can sure lift depression pretty fast!) but since that is rarely in our control it’s humble cousin affection is a lot more easily available.

Here in the land of the “stiff upper lip” etc. we tend to be less affectionate than our southern European cousins. Perhaps that’s why we are such avid animal lovers. If no one human is on hand when you need that affection boost pets are always happy to stand in and stroking and petting a dog or cat is hugely therapeutic!

Again science has produced studies on the mood enhancing benefits of hugs and affection. I had my own unique experience many years ago while working as a teacher and counselor in a summer camp for teenagers. I was under intense pressure at the time due to a personnel shortage, when a sweet lady, new to the post, came to ask if I could switch roles and stand in for a difficult class as someone had come down sick. She was startled to see my facade (which I could already barely hold together) crack. (As I recall I mumbled something about “feeling more like jumping off the balcony”. lol!)

She looked totally confused (being a complete newbie to counseling etc.) In desperation she just grabbed me into an enormous bear hug and just held me mumbling some platitude that it would “be alright”. The platitude did nothing but somehow that long, long, hug (must have been about 10 minutes) did the trick. When the coordinator got time to ask with a concerned face what was wrong I was able to answer with a sunny smile that it was all fine now (He gave me a much needed day off anyway.)

I learned from that incident and found when “talking someone through something” it helped enormously to lightly touch their arm or shoulder. Since then I’ve tried hard to overcome my post war British upbringing and be more affectionate. I’m happy my children and grand children all grew up that way. I’m concerned that there are so many laws and regulations about teachers and policemen etc. not touching people. I know it’s supposedly to avoid sexual harassment, but we all know what crosses the line and sometimes kids or folks going through trauma could benefit greatly from a simple arm around the shoulder to show we care. I think we should  all dish out lots and lots of affection it might help mental health!

More chill pills”. (exercise and nature)

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forest walking

This particular chill pill (exercise) is widely used, even as an alternative to anti-depressants. Its physical effects are scientifically measurable. Not being a science wiz I won’t go into that here, rather stick with how I apply it.

It depends somewhat on what I’m trying to deal with. I find yoga stretches (I don’t do the spiritual stuff but the stretches and breathing are great!) help me slow down, alleviate stress and relax (great chill pills!)

If on the other hand I’m angry or upset and about to “blow a gasket” the exercise has to be vigorous. In my case usually a very fast paced walk (never get in my way when I’m doing this lol!) The coursing energy seems to take the anger or whatever out along with it. Gradually it seeps away and as exhaustion kicks in I slow down and (if I planned it right to end up in nature) I become aware of the beauty around me. I’m then calm enough to pray and God never fails to show me how to deal with the problem (the last bit is optional for non-Christians).

The fast walk works much better than bopping someone on the nose lol!  When younger my kids and friends would always cover for me when I’d say through gritted teeth, “I need to go for a walk! Now!” They knew! Thankfully it’s been years since I’ve had to do that, guess we mellow with age. Of course you don’t have to walk, it can be anything vigorous, one of my daughters actually bought a small punch bag and boxing gloves and one of my son in laws (who did karate etc.) told me he used to go down in the basement and brake two by fours with his hands when he was mad at his dad lol!

So on to the other chill pill – nature. Probably most of us have experienced its calming effects (if you haven’t get off that seat and find the nearest lake or forest right now!) Before I became a Christian (having less chill pills at hand) I would go find the nearest tree (or forest if available). There’s just something about trees I can’t explain, but they give off vibes, calm, patient, understanding vibes. Water is also a great relaxant. It has been proved scientifically that ocean waves have a calming effect (something to do with positive and negative eons – wish they’d had science at my school it’s fascinating! No science for girls in my day, sigh!)

You do need to slow down to take in the nature well though. A jog with head phones may help but you really need to actually stop, look, listen, smell and take it all in to get the full benefit. Man was not created to live in cities. Nature is our natural environment and when we return to that our bodies give an inward sigh and start repair work (which is why when we visit the sea or countryside we often get “sleeping sickness”, our bodies are able to relax and make up for lost time.)

I find the combination of nature and exercise works great together especially at those times you think you’re gonna “blow a gasket”. One more chill pill to go. Can you guess what it is?