‘Enjoy the journey, not the destination’ they say. The difficulty is that we don’t always understand the meaning of this until it’s too late.
We often talk about stress and stress management in our practice, and where there is stress there are stress hormones, the stress response. The thing with stress hormones is they accelerate the ageing process, and nobody wants that, with the exception of my four year-old nephew. Sleep and concentration are negatively impacted during times of prolonged stress. What’s worse is that chronic stress also plays a role in common, and often fatal lifestyle diseases. But, by looking at a situation from a different angle you can drastically reduce the impact stress has on your existence.
You’re thinking ‘life’s just not that simple’, right? I get it, when you’re deep in it it’s easier said than done. From recent personal experience believe me, I understand – I recall having thoughts like ‘you don’t know what this is like’. In my mind I was the only person in history to have ever destroyed my knee on a sports field and be limited to crutches for an extended period of time with a prescription of no weight bearing.
I had things to do, my fiancé and I settling back into life on the Sunshine Coast, we were only days from moving house, we’d just got this cool new practice off the ground that’s a joy to be in. It was Christmas time, there was surf for the first time in weeks (it felt like months) and I was looking forward to some fun in the sun and time on the sand. Ah, ‘twas not to be (this time). Where’s the bright side in all of that? Well, hindsight is a powerful thing.
Looking back over my experience there were a number of positives hidden for me along the way, I just lacked the perspective to appreciate them. When all is said and done I remember feeling such gratitude when my surgery went ahead on the scheduled date, there was a real threat of it being postponed due to complications – the last thing I wanted was to drag this out another day, much less another week or two. I am grateful for spending quality time with my sister for the first time in years, I was no doubt a difficult patient (think 10x man flu) but she was more than happy to travel to feed me and make sure I didn’t have some unexpected reaction to anesthetic. I actually learnt to let go too, well kind of, I’m a very independent person and insist on doing most things myself, but in all honesty I’ve got much better at this.
On the surface these may seem very small, and on their own they are, but these are pretty significant when considering the bigger picture. Having the capacity to express or experience gratitude is huge! It’s not possible to be stressed when you're in a state of gratitude. Strengthening connection with family and loved ones, that one needs no explanation. Being open to receiving a gift from another person, this is less about receiving than it is about allowing someone the gift of giving.
When we are in that moment, the light at the end of the tunnel is invisible, it can be tough to look on the bright side of a challenging experience, to enjoy the journey, or at the very least take something positive from it. When we overcome a challenge the weight and strain of the situation usually seems less intense than it was at the time. Perspective is everything; by changing our perception of a situation we can save ourselves a lot of heartache. We can drastically reduce the stress hormones pumping through our veins, and by doing this we will age more gracefully, have better quality sleep and live a healthier, happier more fulfilling life.