Lately, I have discovered a fabulous way to beat stress. It isn’t a novel idea by any means, but I didn’t know how therapeutic it could be until I started doing it regularly.
I go to the park and let my mind wander. I walk briskly for a few minutes, exercising my arms and legs (and trying out cool new moves I see fitness freaks practising). Then, I let myself sit on the bench in the early morning sunshine, listen to the chirping birds freshly woken from sleep, and pamper my feet with the luxury that is dew. I don’t look at my phone; I don’t inspect any to-do lists; no calls or messages are entertained. Frequently, I don’t even listen to music but prefer to tune in to the natural orchestra: whistling winds, birdies cooing in the distance, lightly rumbling thunder forecasting more rain in Pune, rustling leaves swaying in the breeze.
Occasionally, a fluffy dog or two come and sit by me, agreeing wholeheartedly with my philosophy of idle sitting and doing nothing. In Vienna, the park I used to visit had more four-legged friends: sheep, cows, frogs. They all nodded at me when I walked past and then proceeded to imitate my stress-relief behaviour: sit and stare into the distance, humming if you please, enjoying the fact that you are alive to see a new day when everything, at least for the moment, is free of mistakes.
My morning visits to the park help keep me centred. Our lives are trapped in air-conditioned homes and offices, surrounded by gadgets and man-made paraphernalia. We rely so extensively on massage chairs, adult colouring books, YouTube music, and fancy meditation manuals that we rarely think to turn to nature for healing. Undoubtedly, all these things can be excellent for mental health. But so is spending half an hour amidst the greens. It is a stress-relief technique dating back to the times when stress wasn’t even recognised as a problem. Stone Age men and women probably went with picnic baskets to thick forests to recuperate from the toll that killing a herd of foxes took on their health.
Now, please excuse me while I partake of the next thing that will hold my hand through the day: my cup of coffee.
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I am taking up the April #AtoZChallenge 2019 and will post every day of the month, except Sundays. I look forward to your company!
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