Antaeus, in Greek mythology, was a Libyan giant, the son of Gaia, the Earth Goddess. He was invincible because when thrown to the ground, he derived strength from the earth, his mother, and returned stronger than before.
And that too is a secret of strength.
When under stress, I tend to “run” (metaphorically speaking!)—to travel, to take a day out in a National Trust or RHS garden, or just sleep.
Nothing wrong with that, but “down to earth” ways of decompressing are often surprisingly healing and refreshing. A landmark UCLA study, which looks at women under stress observes that the first thing women under stress do is clean (followed by making coffee, and bonding with other women).
And oddly, for both me and Roy, tidying up is one of our most therapeutic activities. There is something so peaceful about order gradually emerging, and the gentle movement involved in it, especially if one has worship music on the stereo. It’s actually restful, provided there is no time pressure, and one has not allowed one’s surroundings to get too out of control.
Gardeningtoo is an immensely peaceful activity, restful, therapeutic, an opportunity for quiet contemplation. Just the sound of bird song, and the gentle activity calms me. Similarly, the gentle walk, and the natural sounds of the wind and birds settles the spirit.
As Gretchen Rubin writes in her Happiness Project, the endorphins generated during exercise help people think clearly. Even ten minutes of daylight stimulates production of serotonin and dopamine, brain chemicals that improve mood. And a ten minute walk clarifies thinking and boosts energy.
The rate of depression in the West has increased ten fold in two generations, partly because of the increased time spent indoors, and the light deprivation and sedentary hours.
And Scripture mentions the best source of energy. This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says: “In returning and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength,” (Is. 30:15).
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I have had a very busy fortnight—with some lovely things, a couple of parties, one of which I hosted, hosting people for lunch, coffee with others; and some stressful things, buying a motor home, which is out of our area of expertise, and a family member who is in a very bad mood!!
But there have been more positive than negative things (as there generally are in life!) Irene my 13 year old won two end-of-year prizes: one for Achievement (given to those with the highest marks in the year end exams) and one in a Speech Contest. She spoke on the importance and loveliness of chocolate!!—not on reading or exercise or healthy eating or any of the subjects I helpfully suggested.
Anyway, I am slightly off keel and stressed, so I guess I need to practice some of Antaeus’s stress reduction strategies—keep close to the earth, tidy up, garden, walk (and pray)!!