The blue zone life-style calls for a low stress life. How can we do that when we live in such a high stress world? Some stress comes to all people, such as illness, death of someone close, or accidents. Other times, we add stress. It can be the stress of an overly full schedule, always trying to get more, allowing others to make too many demands, or even trying to avoid your duties. It can even be the choice of a high stress job because there is more money in that job. There is so much that we can do to destress.
One of the keys is how to handle the unavoidable stress. During my first marriage, I lived in fear of something happening to one of my children. The fear was because I knew my wife would find a way to blame me and make my life miserable. Whether it was my mis-perception, or her poor way of handling a hard situation, it shows that lousy coping mechanisms add to the normal stress of life’s hard points. How do we do that?
Look at what we do. We focus on ourselves. We find a way to blame others. Whether these are leftover coping mechanisms from childhood or another source doesn’t really matter. What is clear is that we are thinking of ourselves and how to protect number one. What would it be like if everyone involved in the hard time thought of and was most concerned about the others? I listen to your feelings and you listen to mine. The Bible hints that; “For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus’ sake.” “See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled.” “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.”
Those unavoidable stress times are rough enough, but we make it worse. I have a friend whose husband is an addict. She has times where he takes all the money to pay bills and has a spree. Now a non-stressful situation is turned stressful deliberately. Another friend has quite a sufficient income, but wants to be rescued, so spends rather unwisely and then demands rescuing, feeling if she isn’t in stress from lack of money, then she can’t ask. She makes others feel guilty, and soon all around her are living in constant stress. With yet another person, we were supposed to loan our car to a relative for a few hours. We made it clear that we needed it back by late afternoon. They dawdled and delayed, and by the time they came, they didn’t have time to do their chore, so we refused. The relative complained to mom, who rescued her by refusing to further teach piano to our children. There are so many ways that we take ordinary situations and stress ourselves.
We are in Spain, on vacation. Regina started to ask, are we getting our money’s worth? Are we wasting much of our time? Then, my hero answered herself, “this is vacation and if we want to spend some of our time idling on the beach rather than visiting every possible museum, we are having an enjoyable relaxing vacation.” We have already visited a museum, a castle, and a Van Gogh event, plus I had a day to hike in the mountains, along with beach events, all in five days. We were planning on going to some Roman ruins and an ancient tower today. I saw that Regina had laid back down and fallen asleep. I had a momentary urge to get angry and wake her, but thought, “This is vacation. We don’t have to be dominated by a schedule.” We still made the ruins, the tower, and some beach time. We discussed a nice dinner out, but listened to our bodies. Perhaps an evening walk when the Spanish are walking.
A low stress attitude is vital, but faith is integral to the achieving that low stress life. I have discussed before about the life of trust. Think about how simple many people’s childhoods were. Mom and Dad made sure we had food, housing, and clothing. Then they set about our training, whether with schooling, sports, or household chores. Because we trusted them to take care of our needs, we focused on the childhood tasks in a fun way. Little did I think that learning to ride a bike was teaching me adult skills. It was just fun. Imagine learning and growing when you are secure because mom and dad will provide, and you prepare for adult life by having fun.
This describes the life of trust in God. We rest secure because God is supplying everything we need for godliness. As we enjoyably grow to Adulthood, spiritually maturity, we stop asking ourselves, “How does this affect me,” and start asking, “Are you struggling? How can I help?” For, “The steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace, Because he trusts in You.” It is funny, but the people who are at peace about everything, even death, are the most likely to live the longest.