Sandpipers and Stress
Are you a Sandpiper?
There is something peaceful about early mornings. There is a stillness that allows for focus, creativity, processing, and preparation for the day ahead. I enjoy waking up early, making a cup of hot coffee (preferably with flavored creamer), and sitting down with my Bible, journal and Soul Space app. The quietness and connection to my anchor (a source of stability and security) which grounds me and empowers me to face what is in front of me that day.
Recently, I spoke at a conference hosted on Jekyll Island. I loved waking up in the morning, walking the beach, and watching the sunrise. One particular morning, I was walking with a friend and we paused as the sun peeked over the horizon in order to take in its beauty. There was a certain magnificence as the sun rose and took its place, marking the entrance of a new day. I was struck by the peace of the ocean, the sovereignty and creativity of God, and as I stood there, my soul felt held in the arms of the Creator of the Universe. To be reminded that the same God, who has power over the ocean, the sky, and all the living creatures, cares so much about me (and you). He values us, He knows us each by name, He knows the number of hairs on our head, He intimately tunes in to each of us and delights in us. What a privilege!
And then, at that moment, I noticed a group of sandpipers, with their little toothpick-like legs, scurrying at the water’s edge. They moved in front of us as fast as they could go with their heads focused on the sand looking for something to satisfy their need (food.) The dichotomy between the stillness and the hustle struck me.
It was then I realized how often we are like sandpipers! We scurry about, going from one thing to the next, busy with life’s demands and activities, thinking we have to figure it all out. Stress and anxiety increase and our nervous system stays at a high level of intensity.
Impacts of Stress
Much has been researched and written about the impact of stress on the human body. In small doses, stress can be helpful as it activates our system to take action. It is when stress becomes chronic and increases in intensity that the body takes a toll.
Stress impacts the cardiovascular system, endocrine system, respiratory system, musculoskeletal system, gastrointestinal system, and reproductive system, and the nervous system. Chronic, long-term stress has been linked to various diseases and conditions.
Discussing the necessity of reducing stress is not just something to consider lightly, or to throw out as an extra thing for which you don’t have time. Stress reduction is crucial for your health!
How often do we pause, and see the bigger picture? To zoom the lens on our life out and remember we are not alone, that we don’t have to figure it all out? That we do not have to “prove” anything.
Once we are able to remind ourselves of this, we have some choices to make. Do we stay in the rat race of life like the sandpipers? Do we intentionally take time to pause and be reminded of who our anchor is? Do we look at our current life situation and see how often we are living in a state of stress or anxiety and identify ways to reduce it in order to allow for better health, a regulated nervous system, and the opportunity to reconnect with what truly matters, living according to our values?
Our brain is better able to access creativity when we reduce stress, pause for times of fun, stillness, and calibration which actually increases productivity in the long run. So, by slowing down, you actually can accomplish more!
So today, where are you? Are you a sandpiper? Can you pause, lift your head, and be still for a moment so that you can reconnect to your anchor, listen for direction and guidance, and rest knowing it is not all up to you and you don’t have to have it all figured out.