The Recovering Farmer

Thursday, July 10, 2014

What’s That Sound

Mosquitos. Mosquitos have invaded Manitoba with a vengeance. Just last week I suggested to someone that it wasn’t too bad. That has changed. They are plentiful. They are big. They are vicious. A generous coating of Deep Woods Off lasts but a short while and then you have to spray yourself again. This is when stories are told of what the best way is to ward off this pesky insect. Some sound strange but I suppose I should not knock it till I’ve tried it.

I went golfing with my son last week. As we walked out the door my wife suggested to us that putting a Bounce dryer sheet in our pocket would do the trick. My son held up a small bottle of peppermint oil and stated that was all he needed. At the time I was not quite sure what he expected to do with it. Both ideas made me chuckle. Old wives tales perhaps? After all, I had my trusty can of Off in my golf bag.

Not long after we started the game I was hit by the aroma, and I use that term loosely as it was more of a stench, of peppermint oil. I noticed my son dabbing it on his arms. Seemed to work for him. Or for the mosquitos. Not sure. Made me think that perhaps I should try the Bounce dryer sheet. No harm in trying. Just make sure I have the spray can handy. You never know.

A few weeks ago I attended a workshop on Understanding Mental Illness. During that workshop there was significant discussion on how people have various levels of tolerance when it comes to stress in their lives. Sometimes the problems we hear about seem minor and yet they can have a devastating effect on the person’s life. Someone suggested that if we ever think that small things can’t drive us crazy we should try being locked up in a dark room with one mosquito. I get that. Have you ever found yourself lying in bed, in the dark, and you hear a mosquito? It is truly scary. Then you realize that hearing it is better than the alternative. Because when you don’t hear it, it means it has landed and is surely biting you. But where? It creates anxiety.

So it goes with real life issues as well. In many situations it is not one small issue that brings on anxiety or depression. Often times it is a culmination of events. However, a seemingly benign matter can push us over the edge. And then like the single mosquito in a dark room we begin to worry about what will happen. We become spooked. We lose our ability to cope. It gets to the point where we are afraid of being afraid. And as those fears, the anxiety sets in we become debilitated. We lose the ability to function. We lose hope.

There are times, and I speak from experience, where we need to step back. Reassess. Do an inventory. Come to a better understanding of what it is that is creating dysfunction. Deal with the stuff we are able to. I keep being reminded of the Serenity prayer. Need to have the wisdom to distinguish between what I can change and what I cannot do anything about. On top of all that be kind to yourself. Extend to yourself the same compassion you feel for others. And repeat after me; “May my heart be filled with loving kindness. May I be safe. May I be healthy in mind and body. May I be happy, truly happy. May I live my life with ease.” (Taken from Klinic’s brochure on self-compassion.)

As for the mosquitos? Avoid areas where they are at their worst. Do what you can to protect yourself whether that is peppermint oil, Bounce sheets, or spray. And then enjoy what is left of summer. Because as sure as day follows night winter is coming.(In stress management lingo that means one should avoid stressors as best possible, use available tools to cope with the stress that hangs around because we all know that life will throw more at us.) Make it a good one.

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