Surprise! I have a hard time dealing with stress sometimes.
Not that you could ever tell, because, you know, I never post about it on here. (New readers: that was sarcasm.) But dealing with stress is an issue more and more people are having to deal with in our generation–anxiety and depression disorders are skyrocketing compared to rates even 20 years ago. We live in a world where we are constantly bombarded with 20 things to do and 40 things to watch and 100 things we SHOULD have or SHOULD be by now. Our lives are lived in competition, and finding a place to just relax in the midst of all of it is hard.
Do you ever wish you could go back to a simpler time? When your biggest worry was whether or not your pet caterpillar would live until you could bring it to show and tell? I know I do (not the caterpillar story bit, though, I was homeschooled. We didn’t have show and tell. But the general principle is the same). Over and over again I’ve heard “I wish I could just be a kid again,” and I think that’s so very sad. Why does adulthood need to be so much less fun than being a kid? Yeah, sure, we have responsibilities, but you did as a kid, too, you just didn’t have as many so looking back on it now it seems amazing. So what’s so different about being a kid versus being an adult?
In my mind, there’s two main differences: knowledge and mindset. We’re not as naive anymore, we’ve been made less innocent and therefore less carefree. As well, our mindset is stuck in “should” mode rather than “could” or “will” mode, like a kid’s. And the result is we just don’t know how to have fun anymore, so we have stress instead. Not a very good deal, if you ask me.
I’ve been thinking a lot about this recently, about how we lose some of our joy as we enter young adulthood, and thought that I’d share my musings with you about 11 things we can learn from our childhoods that will help us in dealing with stress.
1. Do your homework and then you can go out and play
When we’re kids, we’re forced to sit and work until it’s done. If we complain and whine, we’re put in time-out or don’t get dessert, so we smarten up and get our work done. And the result is that everything gets done and you still get time to play!
As adults, though, we often play first and only then do our work. If you don’t agree with me, think about how many times this week you’ve watched Netflix before you started studying. Yeah, it’s embarrassing. The problem with this is that we feel like we’ve been working all day because the weight of what we “should” be doing is constant, even when we’re doing what we think should be fun. Get the work done first, then when you play it’ll be much more fulfilling.
2. Eat your vegetables first, and then dessert
Mental health and physical health are very much related. If you eat crap, you feel like crap. It’s pretty much a fact. When we’re kids, mom and dad make sure we eat our veggies before we have ice cream. And then we only have a little bit of ice cream. No one monitors that for us now, so we need to be aware of the lessons our parents taught us in portion control and actually use them. Healthy, energy-rich food helps boost your mood better than any TV show could.
3. Limits on screen time
I am sick and tired of how much media exposure we have. We can never escape it! This was never a problem as kids–I only got 30 minutes to play on the computer, and sometimes I’d get to sneak in an hour if mom was working. That was gold. Compare that to the hours we spend on the computer every day and it starts to make sense why our lives feel more complicated and overwhelming.
Try to limit your screen time and see how that helps you with dealing with stress.
4. Get to know the neighbourhood kids
Why are we so secluded these days? Seriously, when was the last time you actually talked to your neighbours, or invited friends over for dinner? We live these lives of pseudo-relationships where we see what everyone is up to but don’t actually talk. You know what I miss? I miss knocking on the door to every kid’s house on the block to see who wants to hang out.
Let’s make more of an effort to have real relationships with our friends instead of relying on social media “friendships” to maintain our connections.
5. Your family’s opinion is really the only one that matters
When you were 8, if mom said you looked cute you felt on top of the world. When do we start to care more about what everyone except our family thinks? The truth is that we’re never going to be able to please everyone. As well, our family is really the only group of people who is going to be constant in our lives. So let’s start to re-direct our focus to what really matters again and spend more time paying attention to our families than to how popular we are.
Look at this picture. That was taken at a time where I obviously only cared what my parents thought. That, my friends, is an elephant costume I made out of aluminum foil and electric tape while camping. I was so proud of that elephant costume. Look at that smile. Despite the costume.
6. Learning is actually a lot of fun
The library is a place of magic during childhood, of endless possibilities to learn and explore. Why do we lose that as we get older? Let’s start to have fun learning again!
7. Sometimes you just need a nap.
Do you remember when you were little and throwing a fit and couldn’t seem to control yourself and your mom would just make you take a nap, or go for some quiet time? I think we need quiet time as adults, too. Next time you find yourself overwhelmed or emotionally volatile, take an hour to curl up in bed with a book and just relax.
8. Playing outside is good for you!
We forget how to play outside as adults! When was the last time you kicked around a soccer ball or even went for a walk? It’s March now, I know, but let’s take some time this spring and summer to actually spend time outdoors having fun. I hate being cooped up all the time!
Katie and me all geared up to go play outside. Katie has got some major teletubbies swag going on right there.
9. Everything is going to be OK
This was so much easier to know as a child, but honestly and truly: everything will be OK. God has this under control, and His plan is so much better than any of ours are. The biggest thing that we lose as we age, in my opinion, is our childlike faith in God’s love for us. The truth is we have next to no control over anything, no matter how much our anxiety tries to trick us into thinking that we do. I think that accepting that fact and going forward anyway is the first step to reclaiming that childlike wonder and trust in His plan over ours.
Honestly, when I’m a mom I hope I can give my kids as good of a childhood as I had. I miss being a kid! But being an adult has its perks, too, and just because we can’t go back to being a kid doesn’t mean that we can’t experience joy anymore!
What were some lessons from your childhood you hold onto even today?
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