Monday, October 07, 2013

Rest and Relaxation Therapy in Nature

Happiness and Contentment in Life that Is Simple, Life that Is Simply Good!

We all live in a life that is not devoid of stress. The stress may come from our work, from people we work with or people we interact with, from family, from friends, or even from ourselves. Though I may give a picture of a stress free life because most of my posts here are our nature escapades, but truth is, they are my way of managing stress in a life that is as busy as anyone, and as stressful as anyone. Just like most, I work 5 times a day and have to do household chores at home. Though I love my job, find a meaning in doing it, see it as my passion and one of my sources of priceless joy and happiness, but I do not deny that it is not perfect and it has its share of emotional stress.

So much researches point out to the dangerous health disorders brought about by stress. Stress can raise cholesterol levels, create hypertension which could damage arteries to the point where there is blockage and heart disease. Stress is also known to cause digestive disorders, worsen bowel conditions and lower immune system which causes our bodies more susceptible to infections and viruses. Stress can also slow recovery from major traumas to the body.

We respond to stress by doing our best to live in harmony with ourselves and to be content with our lives. Our lives are not perfect, and maybe never will be, but we need that acceptance and contentment within to feel a sense of happiness and inner joy that can never be taken away, not even by daily stress.

Relaxation plays a great role in combating stress for me. Through time, I have learned how to fight stress that brings in not only rest and relaxation, but also so much spiritual therapy and physical energy giving me a boost and a high to live life as happy and as contented as I can be. Some of the many ways I do to lower down my stress level are:
1. Exercise and do stretching activities daily to relax my muscles.
2. Prayers have always been a good antidote for stress. Prayers that are not limited to praying at home or in the church only, but also prayers that extend to the inspiring silence of outdoors in nature; whether in land or in water.
3. Relaxing in nature. I know a lot have asked me question if don't I even get physically exhausted hiking, boogie boarding, etc? The answer to that always is, EXPLORING OUTDOORS  for me is a very strong relaxation therapy. You feel lighter ( well, you've burned a lot of calories), you feel energized and rejuvenated ( well, from all those breathing in and breathing out of fresh air ), you feel so inspired and thankful ( well, NATURE simply fills you with inspiration and relaxation therapy ).
Hiking and Snorkeling, one of our favorite weekend activities to get the most needed Rest and Relaxation

I've experienced a state of life where I almost did not have time for myself. Almost had three jobs: college teaching, high school teaching, and tutoring. I did not own my weekend for I was teaching even Saturdays. At that time in my life, being new to US, the kind of relaxation I was doing was picked up from peers and friends during the early years of my career. These were: malling, shopping, movies, eating out, city vacation and whatever or however that commercialization promotes as happiness. My only "nature relaxation" then was going to the beach. Until I found I had collected so many clothes, bags and shoes I even have no use of ( I gave most of them away already ). Until I found myself gaining 40 lbs of weight and dealt with scary health issues. That was the turn around. I started hiking with hubby, with high hopes of improving my physical fitness and health. Hiking up Mt. Woodson became a favorite because I noticed how much my weight would go down each weekend after climbing up its slopes.
Hiking Mt. Woodson, my local outdoor gym to lose weight back then
( the electronic gadget I was holding in the bottom right picture is not a cell phone for surfing or texting or uploading pictures to FB. :) That is a GPS which I was using for finding geocache, which we loved doing with hiking, it's like a treasure hunt, but the clues are the GPS coordinates, and the treasure is most of the time a geological feature of Earth )

Instead of turning to restrictive dieting to lose weight, I turned to nature. Slowly, from a mere "outdoor gym", nature opened up to me the joy of slowing down, and her being also a great place for prayer.
My hikes made me learn that nature brings more than rest. It taught me that with slowing down, we get to enjoy its many surprises and not miss the pure joy and happiness of the simple things in life. Let me share a quote from the lyrics of the song "Simple Life" by Karl Kohlase, one of my favorite songs, and actually, where the title of this blog was inspired from.

"Living life can be hard today, 
I have to say it's so. 
But I have learned if I stop and pray
 I get the grace to go. 
And I have found by slowing down 
I have more time to live the simple life."

You can listen to the song here if in case  you are not familiar with it.

At some point in our lives, we always have life changing experiences. My weekend wandering with nature did not only make me lose weight, but also slowly reduced my jobs from 3 to 2 to 1. I gave up tutoring and Saturday teaching. I gave up college teaching job and chose high school teaching to be my only job. I soon found out that nature did not only teach me to slow down, to enjoy life simply, it also increased my savings despite of lost income from 2 jobs I gave up because spending time with nature on weekends and weekday nights made me lose my appetite for commercialism and materialism. I slowly started seeing the wisdom behind these words which were always shared to us by our parents: "Savings are not directly proportional to what you earn, but inversely proportional to how much you spend. Learn how to balance living life fully and saving responsibly." Sadly, in the early years of my career life, I forgot the relaxation taught to us by our parents, absorbing the common  form of relaxation, nothing bad, but I found out those types were just giving me a temporary fix. Tiredness and body aches did not go away, instead they were increasing at a rate that made me feel a lot older than my age and weaker. Energy to keep up with the goodness of life was running out. I am glad to have found the joys of slowing down to live a simple life, which slowly built my energies again to live a life that is as happy, as contented and as healthy as it can be.

Learning the joy of slowing down in nature, I always see to it that I free my weekend for nature wandering. It's a form of relaxation I could never exchange with any commerce based relaxation. I lost my appetite for shopping, for the mall, or for movies, or for eating out, because I know, there is much deeper joy in silence and in nature.
from this weekend's snorkeling

Knowing how huge nature plays a great part in rest and relaxation, I do not spend weekends for household chores. Instead, I do all household chores on weekdays, after work by applying the art of multi-tasking. :)

First, I do laundry on Mondays, after work. Monday is the day of the week I am so full of energy having been energized and rejuvenated by our weekend nature wanderings. Why not do most work on this day? While doing laundry, I quickly clean the house. After cleaning, I cook foods for dinner and for our lunch boxes. Hubby helps me fix laundry, we are a team in our household. While I do the cooking, hubby does the watering of plants outside. Cooking actually is another form of relaxation for me, and another activity that I find lowers down my stress level. There is just so much therapy that goes with slicing vegetables, preparing dishes and fruits for smoothies. I do the other household chores such as house cleaning other days of the week. By Friday, when my energy is lowest after a week of work, I look for rest and relaxation in nature. After work, we would go hiking in our local nature parks and watch sunset. That's how we usually spend our "Friday after work date" which does not cost us anything for we just go to local nature parks. The time spent together enjoying the gifts of nature and the joy, rest and relaxation we feel, for both of us, are priceless.
Hiking and The Ocean, Our favorite place for a Friday night date
After getting nature therapy on Friday after work, we are energized to do more weekend nature wanderings and relaxation.
From this weekend's nature wanderings

We do not have to wait for vacation to do what most people do in their vacation. Instead, we spend our weekend like it's a vacation, well, a staycation, simply enjoying family togetherness and what nature has to offer in our home sweet home, San Diego. 
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  1. I am listening to the song while I am reading this. I agree with you, being just with family feels like you are in vacation already.

  2. Thanks for sharing this. It is hard to work in a foreign country and I admit people at work are my stressor. I think starting from now I should walk home by the lake instead of walking through the buildings. By this I will feel more relax as I reconnect myself to nature

  3. It’s great to unwind after long days at work. I also failed to enjoy life while I was working offline. I’m currently catching up enjoying life by living simply. Great photos and adventure you had there. I wish I could do the same anytime soon though I’m not an adventurous person. ^_^

  4. happiness and contentment indeed! love all the photos! people should really know how to be content in life and that's where the happiness in your soul starts

  5. Those are scenes that can absolutely make one's soul contented and happy! When I feel so stressed out, I always choose to go out and breathe some fresh air. I guess the nature has its own way of giving the natural therapy that our body needs.

  6. Wow! Geocaching? that is fun. I do geocaching once in a while if i'm with my husband's uncle. He loves it and he does it during his motorbike trip. I find it's interesting, sad to say my hubby doesn't want it. Maybe one day I could convince him.

  7. home sweet home indeed! I love your photo smiling among the yellow flowers!! It is amazing how you manage your time and get to enjoy the best of what nature has to offer...I would love to live in San Dieago too!! one sweet day and ride the waves and talk to dolphins and seals like you always my eyes and heart feasted on on overload of the Joys of Simple Life...oh during our ride home this weekend, Orly mentioned about a couple he read on yahoo who spend time on weekends wondering to nature parks and I said, oh they are like my wonderwoman friend Betchai and Khai! :) He said, let us do the same thing! I laughed because we realized we can not at this point in time because work takes too much of his time even weekends..but he plans to retire early so we could explore too!! I have low energy on Mondays really are yah! :)

  8. ...listening to simple life song and loving loving loving it....:)

  9. This is the most wonderfully inspiring post, filled with such good advice and spectacular photos. I think travel relaxes me and helps me cope with stress. In the 21 years I was a forensic nurse, dealing with adult rape and child sex abuse cases, travel was the balm that helped me deal with the secondary trauma of the work which I loved. Especially cruising, with the days at sea, helped. I was never one to linger by the pool but I loved having a balcony cabin so I could sit outside and watch the world go by.

  10. Nature has always been a great stress reliever... that's why I always visit Baguio city and Tagaytay, because they have the best sceneries in our country.

  11. Great tips sis! I'm already relaxed just by looking at these beautiful pictures. That's why my family always travel at least 3 or 4 times a year just to unwind, detox and and recharge the spirit, mind and body. It is great for our wellbeing.

  12. Living a simple life is God's desire for his children to nurture. He has given us amazing Mother Nature for us not to seek earthly things.

  13. Whenever I'm out exploring the nature, I always talk to God. I feel more closer to Him seeing all HIs lovely creations.

  14. I could agree with you more about this, the BEST way to meditate and relax is through enjoying the wonderful nature we have.

  15. The places you've been are quite an envy! Nothing like doing yoga and jump shot in a masterpiece made by God, nature!

  16. Speechless with all the pictures Sis :-) You are so adventurous :-) Life is too short and that we have live it to the fullest :-)

  17. Oh yes, nature is definitely a good way to relax. I wish I can do that too.

  18. i looooooove the song Beth, thanks for sharing! and need i say, i love, love, love, love this post too? thank you always for the inspiration and nature therapy through your spectacular photos.

    glad all is well and glad to know that your lumps have collapsed. God is great, all the time!

  19. Acceptance and contentment is the key to happiness. It's what we should remind ourselves. Of course, we should also stop in trying hard to achieve more, but if we fail, be content with what we currently have. You've been to many places, all of them are beautiful. :)

  20. Fantastic photos of the underwater thingies. I need to get a water proof camera soon. I so enjoy looking at the beautiful colors of the sea.

  21. It's always nice to get real close with nature. It allows us to renew our energy and happy vibes! Wish I could do something like that soon :)

  22. I've never experienced to be in the field with full of flowers. I want to experienced it too.