Being that I bike ride nearly every evening, you’d think I’d see the same things each day while on the same trail.
However, that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Through a ‘mindful’ course I’ve been taking, it’s really taught me to focus on something specific. And this special trait has me seeing the bike trail in all new ways each time I hit it.
Learning the art of focus can really ease stress in a big way.
It’s really a form of meditation with a different twist.
The goal is getting your mind off your worries in order to take a short mental vacation, while focusing on the moment doing things you enjoy.
Here’s a little test you can try…
My most recent class had us filling out a sheet.
Monday through Friday was listed horizontally.
Under each day, using a scale of 1-5, you were to first write how stressed you started out at during a particular moment, then do an activity you enjoy right away.
Then jot down how stressed you felt after the activity.
Can you guess how I made out?
Each time I filled out the after, my stress was down to zero!
It’s also been noted that when many feel down or depressed for long lengths of time, they don’t have an active feel-good list to work off of. I found that really insightful!
Think about it. Say we lived in a world where there was nothing fun to do. How would we view things?
Because my own life is filled with so many things I love, I’ve always attacked one of them to help bring me up again. I just have never viewed it as ‘a thing’.
But it’s most certainly a really BIG thing.
And that thing can be anything you enjoy, whether it’s extravagant or free.
Here’s a few on the list that we were to circle if they applied to us: some of them I would have never thought of!
Soaking in a tub, spending time with friends, movies, walks, music, reading, dancing, fixing things around the house, having a quiet night, cooking good food, pets, swimming, writing, drawing, sports, attending a party, talking with friends, working out, singing, beach, playing music, making a gift, dinner out, baking, buying something, getting a hair cut, your fav beverage, manicure, bike ride (heh), looking at photos, dressing up, nature walks, noticing birds and trees (bingo), surprising someone with a favor, completing something, bowling, saying I Love You, putting on your fav clothing, noticing a storm approaching… etc.
On another list, we were to circle what we loved doing with our kids.
And that list was even more eye opening. Because when you are struggling with a bored kiddo no matter what age, it’s ammunition to bond while doing them good in other ways.
We all deserve to live our best life, no matter what our circumstances are. While some transpirings are out of our control, we can control what we do with OURSELVES from that point on.
So… wanna get happier? Here’s how it worked for me…
I just had a very busy day filled with appointments, some rather intense meetings and getting some very overdue shopping done that I didn’t particularly enjoy doing. Some of the shopping ended up being failures, resulting in needed returns. Very disappointing!
That led me down other detrimental feelings that instantly hit replay. I overthought what I said and what I did all day long, replaying each moment of the day. Did I do it right? Should I have done something differently? Down-down-down.
Do you ever incessantly rethink all you did and said in a given day? Oy, my head! It accomplishes absolutely nothing. I needed OUT!
Time to hit the trails for a good-mood reset.
Because I’ve shown you these bike paths before, they may look the same to you. However this round I focused on nature’s oddities.
The photos don’t begin to capture how majestic these areas are, by the way. You’ll just have to pretend the trees are as tall as forever.
I love how these two trees crossed each other, creating an archway or portal of sorts. I break out into a smile every time I coast through them.
This moss covered tree was fascinating. It was as if it was selected to be the only one that wore this coat, cloaked with new sprouts in just the mossy areas. Cool! Like a tree plant.
The tall tree to the right immediately grabbed my eye. It was cloaked with hanging vines just on one side of the trunk.
I’m calling this one the Rapunzel tree.
The textures on this trunk resembled a carefully executed wood carving with intentional different textures. That was one cool pin-striped tree!
These trees wear such a unique gradient! Starting as blotchy white, they fade upwards to plain bark. It looks like it could be a cool paint treatment on something.
I’ve ridden this bike path a bazillion times, but never before have I noticed all the traits of these trees until I made that my focus.
Other things I like to focus on are colours, bird sounds, the crunch of gravel, the tones of the gravel, the way roots form, flowers, the sky, water ponds, and how winding the path is.
It’s all the same area. Every day. But it can appear so much different if we only focus.
Which leaves me with one more thought…
What are some of your instant mood enhancer activities? I challenge you to make an official list… it’s very insightful!
You can find some other Therapy 101 posts HERE
And other bike ride adventures HERE
15 thoughts on “Ditching stress through the art of doing fun stuff.”
Oh Gosh, Donna, what you say rings so true. But first, before I explain, I gotta tell you that I read the title of the post ‘ditching stress through the art of doing fun stuff’, and saw the first photo of the tree that you later referred to as ‘pinstriped’ and I saw those notches sticking out, and my immediate thought was ‘OMG, she scaled that tree with those notches!” She thought that was fun! Imagine my relief to read on. And oh most definitely the way we view and think of things really, really affects our mood. I know, I know, people say it all the time, but when I take the time to pay attention and put it into practice, it’s self evident. Almost a way of thinking and living proactive rather than reactive. It’s work to do though, especially when one has been entrenched in the other way of thinking and living. And man, I don’t have it mastered. In the school of life you could say I’m probably in the sixth grade. I’ve got a way to go to graduate. Just yesterday I was off on a rare day from work, and had several things I wanted to accomplish at home, and I found the most success and fulfillment in drinking coffee, watching my favorite shows, and taking our house fans apart and cleaning them. They operate so much more efficiently when clean. I just shut my mind off to the chatter. There is definitely a lesson there. I love your photos of your bike rides because I have a thing for trees. It probably goes back to my childhood and we spent so much time playing outside in the woods. To this day I find great beauty and serenity in viewing the sun casting shadows of the branches and leaves on the ground. Thanks for a wonderful post and giving a great start to my day. Have a wonderful one!
HAHA oh my gosh noooo…. I’m adventurous to a point, but not to scale a tree. In fact, I doubt I’d scale a 2 foot high mountain climbing contraption!
Earth has been good to me. I’m staying firmly planted with both feet on that! haha
And by the sounds of it, you do have your own situation mastered. Fan cleaning would be intense and I’d probably forget to cook dinner with all those pieces strewn about!
Now I feel a need to clean my fans… thanks for the additional focus… I think. : )
I am in the middle of a major audit at work and it has been a stressful two weeks. Last night, I wandered out into a rainstorm at dusk and pulled weeds in my garden while my little girl looked for snails. We were both soaking wet and happy when we went in.
I find that doing things in our yard during a cooling rainstorm is a stress reliever/mood enhancer like no other. It may sound weird but it was wonderful!
Reminds me of “His mercies are new every morning”!
I, too, have been practicing being in the moment as I walk through my garden each morning and evening. It’s the prettiest it’s ever been in 23 years! But here’s part of my motive: I won’t get to see it ever again in spring, or any other season for that matter, cuz we’re planning to sell our home and move closer to our kids and 2 of our grandchildren. So I take in its beauty, always observing something new, always dreaming what I would do to improve it. Ah, dreaming! My Mom, who’ll be 90!! in November, keeps adding to and improving her garden, too.
One more thing, I don’t ever want to lose the little girl in me, the way she had dreams and, by God’s grace, actually got to see many of them happen! Blessings to you, Donna!
Hah Joanne Taggart & I had the same thought- that you were showing us a tree (the pin stripe tree) that you were abseiling from it or climbing up lol
Love your pictures of your outings they’re very inspirational makes me just want to down every thing & go a wandering too. Trees oh my goodness I just absolutely love them & if upto me the whole world would be just one great big forest of trees! For me too they are one of my de-stresses in my life , being able to just “be” in nature is one of life’s greatest gifts to us all.If I’m having a particular bad day I try & think of something that is positive in my day ,like being blessed with being able to see the sunshine , a pretty flower or any nature in general. If it’s a rainy day I feel blessed in the ability to hear the raindrops on the window or the beautiful song of birds & another of my listening loves is hearing the laugh of babies & children playing . I love nature walks but my main love will always be trees I feel a deep affinity with them & love all kinds of them.
Thankyou for showing us your loves & likes & for reminding us to take a deep breath & just see the world for what it is & all its beauty. It’s so hard to get lost out there ,we live in a world that is always moving forward & so fast & forever we are striving to be ever so perfect that we forget that the world is already showing us just how perfect she already is!
Louise, you nailed so many things.
One that stands out is, the world really is already perfect. It’s just our interpretation of it that makes all the difference!
So many wonderful beautiful free things for us to enjoy! Now to give ourselves permission to do that.
It takes effort to schedule a good life. Work gets undone. The dishes may remain in the sink. But at least our hearts have a chance to fill up again. And even dirty dishes look different in that light! : )
Just reading your blog today was a stress reliever! Those trees are so cool – and I too thought the pin striped one was a climbing tree! Thanks for taking us along on your bike rides. Visiting Canada is on my list of places to visit. Soon!
I hope you make your Canadian visit transpire! We certainly are about mountains, lakes and rivers out here, or at least on the West Coast! Every area has its hidden gems for certain!
Being mindful is not easy to do. It takes practice. I’ve never practiced it long enough to be good at it. Shame on me because I would really benefit from it. I get overwhelmed “thinking” and then the panic starts. I actually have Mindfulness for Dummies book. You’ve inspired me to try it again because I KNOW IT’S A GOOD THING! I love trees the most of anything outside. I can’t believe how many different types of trees you came across on your bike ride! What a beautiful place you live in Donna and thank you for sharing this!
Oh Debbie, it DOES take practice! And if the level of chatter in your head is on high volume, it’s even more difficult.
One tip I can offer when that happens is, the higher level of stress / chatter, the more intense the focus needs to be on something.
For example, one exercise we did in class was all stand in a circle, and passed a ball from one to another. That was easy and didn’t take much. I still had time to think of other things.
But when we switched it up and randomly tossed the ball across the circle to catch really fast but you didn’t know when or if it would land your way, that took more effort. No time to think of anything else!
Something that helps me fight it when times are really tough is dig into house cleaning, but to the point of working up a sweat. I pick all the nests up. Trust me… there isn’t one thing touching the floor by the end of it and a shower is needed next!
Plus I get a very picked up house… haha
sounds like a great course…happy you are doing something for “you” for me it is always nature
Donna ever since I picked up a camera I’ve found that just by the act of looking through a lens I am forced to focus and pay attention to little things that normally I would not have noticed, had the lens not been there. I have discovered a whole new way of seeing things that were not visible to my blind eyes before. Photography can be such a wonderful stress reliever and it brings us so much happiness. Your photos are gorgeous every single time and I notice so much because you are so good at drawing our eyes to a particular topic.
Oh Mary… thank you!
And you are so right about the camera lens. It’s become a sport of sort to attempt to capture what I fall in love with. It’s like creating new paintings! And every moved inch creates a whole new look. It’s such a fun challenge that never has an end! Totally get it.
You know you are a bit of a photography-aholic when you have your 2nd camera batteries always in the charger… haha
Excellent post…..I needed to be reminded of these things. Thanks
Excellent decision. I too need to visit a place like this to release stress. Looks like a fanstatic place to visit.