When I first started thinking about writing this particular blog, I was hesitant to write it. This blog was supposed to be forum for learning about chickens and this is a bit outside of that. Kind of. You’ll see.
I have had this idea for a while, punting the thoughts back and forth in my head. Recent events have repeatedly brought me back to it and I decided that if I was spending this much time with it rolling around in my head, and on my heart, that I needed to write about it. We will take a break from chickens and take a look at something pretty common these days.
I have this perception that this word is popping up more and more frequently. Since COVID. Since quarantine. Since winter is approaching and the amount of natural vitamin D is quickly reducing with daylight hours. But did it really start with COVID? With the onset of winter?
We noticed it, became more aware of it, during quarantine. We continue to notice it now. But it didn’t start then. I believe that being quarantined allowed us to see this more in ourselves. We weren’t consumed with the everyday hustle and bustle, conversations, social interactions, and distractions of our former world. The absence of those things allowed us to be more present, more “in the moment” with ourselves. And we began to notice things within and about ourselves. For some of us, the anxiety got better. Like the fog over big cities. For others, it got worse. How have people lived, functioned, survived, persevered with the amount of anxiety we experience in our daily lives? Not the big unexpected stuff that really causes stress and anxiety, but just the day to day trivial things. Surely we weren’t created for or didn’t evolve to be anxious messes. How does that benefit the continuation of the species? More importantly, how do we deal with, overcome, or relieve this anxiety?
So this is where my thoughts were.
Most of you know I facilitate equine therapy sessions. We see a lot of anxiety and the horses help so much with this anxiety. My anxiety is better when I am around horses. I feel like I am on a whole other plane when I am around horses. It’s easier to focus. My repetitive body focused behaviors don’t occur. My mind slows down. My heart slows down. I notice more of the things around me. It’s easier to feel the wind blowing across my skin or the sun warming my shoulder. I am less likely to worry about what others are thinking or how I “should” be doing something. I can just be me. As messed up, crazy, or ok as I am right then.
I don’t try to do any of this, it just happens when I am around a horse. I’m not saying everyone should go find a horse as soon as possible (even though I know it would help), but there is something everybody has where they can experience these effects. Some people prefer dogs or cats. Or chickens! Some people prefer birding, trees, mountain biking, running, walking, hiking, rivers, creeks, lakes, beaches, oceans. But everyone has something that makes them stop and just be. What all the examples I just listed have in common is that they all involve: 1. physical movement of yourself and 2. being with some natural part of life, animals or the outdoors.
So how does that relate to anything I’ve talked about so far? Well, let’s take it back 150 years ago. Cars weren’t a thing. Transportation occurred via horseback. Farm implements and heavy machinery were horse powered. Dogs were used to hunt. Horses were used to hunt. Air conditioning wasn’t a thing. People spent time outdoors, whether it was hot or cold out. People were naturally in an environment where they had access to animals. They had to take walks through woods to hunt for food or get building materials. They had to get their hands in the dirt to grow their food. They had to wade barefoot across a stream to bathe. Or through a river to catch fish. These little things are huge. They may not seem like it, but the next time you are feeling anxious, go outside find a nice patch of ground, take your shoes and socks off and just breathe for a minute. Really. Try it. Let me know how it goes. If you’re in the south, check for ant hills first, though.
Did you know that the horse can affect us with his energy from over a mile away? Seriously, there have been studies that show that a horse can impact us physiologically from over a mile away, reducing heart rate and respiration rate, making us feel better. People used to always be around animals. Always outside. In the sun, the fresh air, and moving. Because they had to, there was no other option. As we have “improved” our lives with creature comforts and technology we have slowly removed the natural benefits that all of those things we are escaping, provided us. Is that better? Now I’m typing this as I sit on our couch in our air conditioned house. But there are also four snoring dogs and two sleepy cats within inches of me. My right elbow is resting on Pip’s hip right now. He’s always close by. So I’m not dissing our current way of life. I think we need to work harder to do those things that were readily available before. It’s a give and take. People 150 years ago had to work harder physically than we do today, but they had the benefit of nature and animals to keep them grounded. We have the benefit of modern technology and comfortable living, but have to work harder to be grounded.
Go. Try it. Go find something that makes you feel present with yourself for any amount of time. It’s hard. It’s hard to not be distracted and to just be. But once you feel it, you’ll figure out ways to make it happen for longer periods of time and as often as possible. And as that happens, the words below will become true to you.