Laugh Tracks: Immersion in nature can ease stress, soothe troubles
Given all the havoc in the world to start this new year off, seems to me that I might be wise to lead off this column with some information that might soothe your stressful troubles.
I read recently that the most frequently asked how-to question that folks look up on Google is how to reduce stress.
Serendipitously, within a few days, I received my January issue of National Geographic magazine. One of the main features wuz about the healthful effects of putting aside your electronic gizmos, forcing yourself to get off the couch and going outdoors to put yourself into the calming influence of Mother Nature.
Scientists have measured that any sort of interaction with nature does wonders for your body and mind. Your blood pressure and heart rate go down, your entire outlook on life improves and afterward, you think and can solve problems better.
Your involvement with nature can be casual or total immersion. It can be nothing more than stopping to smell a flower, sitting in the shade of a tree, working in your flower or veggie garden or stopping to admire an inspiring vista along the side of the road. Or it can be as exotic as taking a walk in Yellowstone National Park or the Petrified Forest or canoeing in the Boundary Waters.
It sounds a bit far-fetched, I admit, but I believe that nature can be The Great Stress Reliever. As for myself, I’m at peace gazing across the Flint Hills, sitting on a pond bank fishing, watching wildlife or watching a clear riffle or small waterfall in a little clear stream.
And, personally, the most calming thing I can do in nature is lay down in a thick stand of the tall grass prairie when the wind is blowing briskly. It’s noticeably warmer and quieter nestled down in the grass, and it makes me realize how insignificant I am in the great scheme of things. Try it sometime. I guarantee you’ll arise from the grass feeling less stressed.
I took ol’ Nevah to the airport in Kansas City so she could fly to Tennessee and spend quality time with our granddaughters. So, I’m a bachelor this week. On my way home, I stopped at a major sporting goods store to try and buy some crimped 22-caliber birdshot ammo to keep the sparrows in check in the hen house.
Naturally, I couldn’t find any to buy. Those shells are literally as scarce as hen’s teeth. I suppose I can thank the current gun-control mania sweeping through the government for the shortage. So, sparrows, help yourself to my chicken feed.
However, I did see a heartening sight in the store. The line of folks to buy new weapons for hunting and self-defense was long and it wuz only mid-morning.
I chuckled to myself at the sight of a grandmotherly gal, probably older than me, making a purchase of a little handgun for herself. I wuz surprised, but shouldn’t have been, that probably one-fourth of the serious gun shoppers were women of all ages. I guess more and more folks are taking seriously their responsibility to secure the safety of themselves and their loved ones and property.
I sure wish I’d bought stock in Smith and Wesson a few years ago before the stock price went up tenfold. It would have sure done better than by IRA. What was I thinking?
A kindly reader sent me the following New Year’s Toast: “Here’s to cheating, stealing, fighting and drinking: If you cheat, may you cheat death. If you steal, may you steal a woman’s heart. If you fight, may you fight for a brother, and if you drink, may you drink with me!”
I’ll drink to that.
And, thanks to another reader for this one:
There was a farmer who grew excellent quality corn. Every year he won the award for the best grown corn. One year a newspaper reporter interviewed him and learned something interesting about how he grew it.
The reporter discovered that the farmer shared his seed corn with his neighbors.
“How can you afford to share your best seed corn with your neighbors when they are entering corn in competition with yours each year?” the reporter asked.
“Why sir,” said the farmer, “Didn’t you know? The wind picks up pollen from the ripening corn and swirls it from field to field. If my neighbors grow inferior corn, cross pollination will steadily degrade the quality of my corn. If I am to grow good corn, I must help my neighbors grow good corn.”
So is with our lives. Those who want to live meaningfully and well must help enrich the lives of others, for the value of a life is measured by the lives it touches, and those who choose to be happy must help others find happiness, for the welfare of each is bound up with the welfare of all.
It’s hard to better that bit of wisdom, but I’ll try. Bumper sticker: Conservatives own more than 200 million guns and 12 trillion rounds of ammo. If we were violent, you’d know it. Also, how come no domestic terrorist has been an NRA member? Also, staying quiet doesn’t mean I don’t have nothing to say. It means I don’t think you’re ready to hear my thoughts.
That’ll do it for the week. Stay warm and have a good ‘un. ❖
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I want to address a couple of issues in this week’s editor’s note.