Outdoor Discoveries

What originally was a news section for the rest of the website soon became a place for me to write about human-powered wanderings in the countryside. Photography inspires me to get out there, mostly on foot these days, though cycling got me started. Musings on the wider context of outdoor activity complete the picture, so I hope that there is something of interest in all that you find here. Thank you for coming!

On stress & tension

25th June 2020

This year has been one of the most stressful that I can remember and came after months of uncertainty about my business affairs as well. The latter was sorted but the new combination of fear of the unknown and being reminded strongly of one’s mortality was enough to provide a poor foundation for dealing with subsequent reductions in liberty. The result was a tension episode that lasted several weeks and needed discussions with professionals to help clarify my thinking so I could do what was really needed.

Throughout all of this, getting out for walks and cycles proved crucial. Some were longer than others; the time spent ranged from thirty minutes to a few hours and even whole days, all in the spirit of dealing with what I was experiencing. Having things open up more has helped the mood though I remain cautious and try to observe social distancing as much as I can though that involves the cooperation of others, something that is not always forthcoming. It might be that a mix of fatigue and complacency is not helping such compliance.

Aside from the above tooling for dealing with tough times, there ironically have been other things that I could have been doing if I had thought of them. Relaxation exercises are among these and I have an audio recording that I got in 2010 that really has helped. Two and five breathing exercises on a fitness watch have had benefits too. Both have helped me get back to other forms of relaxation like reading, which really does help and some of the books that have been occupying my time already have seen mentions on here. It also happens that magazine backlogs have been cleared too so I have been taken on other journeys as well as being taught new things.

All that means that my situation has come a long way in the right direction and I now have more of an understanding of my own neurology than I ever would have requested. Sensations are not treated with the severity that they once were since they could be caused by stress and it now appears that doing otherwise has been the cause of adding tension, resulting in the creation of a vicious circle. In other words, a new sense of perspective has been discovered and the new understanding can be applied equally well to other previous experiences.

As things progress to a more bearable counterpart to the normality that we once enjoyed without valuing it as much as we should have done, I can look back on other occasions and recognise other stress-busters like spending time exercising on a bike trainer while reading. We are enjoying long hours of daylight now but darker evenings could need an alternative and being on a bike trainer could help and might even have got me through tough times before without my realising it.

In so many ways, there were things in my favour like being able to work from home and having activities that occupied my time. Still, the situation got to me and I did not make as much use of the tools available to me as I should have done. If nothing else has been learned from the episode, that will be retained in memory for future reference.


  • John says:

    Since I wrote these words, I have learned that there are numerous smartphone apps like Headspace that facilitate meditation. The one that I mention has been installed on a device and I may get to trying it out though my combination of doing relaxation exercises and attending online church services has helped me a lot so far in this pandemic journey on which we all find ourselves.

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