How Do You Respond to Stress?

My plants are stressed.

After the crazy cool of July 4, Atlanta has settled in to a solid month of above-average temperatures and below-average rainfall. And my plants don’t like it.

Some have responded by going dormant, their bodies shrinking upon themselves and all thoughts of growth or blooms shuttered for the season.

But others have a different response to the stress. Rather than giving up, they’re choosing to give it all they’ve got. Using the pressure of the less-than-ideal conditions as a motivator to try something new.

How do you respond to stress? Are you folding in and shutting down or are you trying something new?

———-

My tenacious plants seem to rely on one of three strategies: creating seeds, sending out shoots or digging in deeply. Not surprisingly, these are the same basic stances I see in people who thrive after stress.

Creating Seeds and Preparing For Tomorrow

The imaptiens seem to know that their life is coming to a premature end. They accept that there is nothing that can be done to preserve the life they’ve had and instead of wasting their energy on a futile task, they are diverting it into the seeds that will begin the next generation.

In our lives, there are times when we have to accept that one chapter has ended. And we also can benefit from putting energy into creating the next phase instead of relentlessly trying to preserve what it already gone.

Sending Out Shoots and Seeking a Better Environment

The shrubs that surround my yard are desperately sending out new shoots, small plantlets carried out from the mother plant on thick rhizomes that stubbornly bury through the soil. The shrub simply knows that the soil where its roots are situated is too dry and that the exposure to the baking sun is too intense. Its own body is anchored and so it explores via outshoots, looking for a more hospitable environment.

Unlike the stationary shrub, people are able to manipulate their environment or leave to seek out a more favorable one when the pressure grows too intense. And people that thrive after stressful events make finding and creating that nurturing environment a priority.

Digging In Deeply and Feeding the Soul

In the spring, when the weather was wet and mild, the new daylilies kept their fibrous roots near the surface. Under those ideal conditions, they were able to obtain everything they needed from just those few inches of soil. But as the conditions intensified, the plants sent their roots deep into the soil in search of water and nutrients.

Thriving people also understand that when the going gets tough, the tough dig in. They accept that what was enough to feed the soul in the good times may no longer be sufficient. And so they root down into their core beliefs. They search to find and tap into their purpose. And they don’t stop until they have reconnected with their life force.

Because when the going gets tough, the tough get growing.

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