No I mean like, right now! Find the closest flowers you can and go and take a deep breath in, and savor a moment of relaxation that I’m sure is well-deserved.
How was that? I hope it brought you a little bit of peace during these crazy times we live in.
A friend of mine laughs at me every time we pass by a flower shop, or a rose garden, or pretty much anywhere and I stop to actually smell the flowers. She jokes, “Holly, you know they don’t mean it literally when they say stop and smell the roses, right?”
I usually say back something along the lines of, “well they don’t know what they’re missing out on,” while shoving flowers in her face and laughing, adding in ‘and don’t these smell so nice!’
But there’s more to it than just wanting to appreciate how nice the flowers smell, which I’ll get to shortly, but I’ll tell you first a little bit about how I’ve ended up taking this common phrase a little more seriously.
For most of my life, like most people, if I was walking somewhere I’d just brush past flower gardens or stroll past flower shops. I’d maybe appreciate them from afar for adding a pop of color into my neighborhood stroll, but it never crossed my mind to actually stop and smell them.
That was just a phrase people said figuratively.
That is, until I started traveling. Throughout my travels I started being exposed to literally hundreds of different landscapes and environments. Now, I knew I would experience different environments in places like Bali compared to Estonia, but I wasn’t truly aware of how different the landscapes of these places really were until I was knee deep in them.
That’s when I started to realize it’s not just that these places have different trees. It’s that the colors, and the shapes, and the sizes, and the purposes of those trees are all different. It’s not just that the flowers are different, it’s that the flowers in England are nothing like the flowers in Australia because one set has evolved over time to adapt to a wet and calm climate, while the others have had to adapt to one of the hottest and driest deserts in the world.
And I found those differences fascinating.
And though I would love to write an entire post on the beauty of the different natures that I’ve explored over the years, and how that’s developed my appreciation for nature enough that I now literally stop and smell the flowers, I suppose that’s not the purpose of this post. So let me get back to why I actually stop and smell the flowers now, more than just that appreciation, and why I think you should too!
Though it’s not uncommon to find me out and about taking pictures of flowers wherever I’m at, as I’m sure you can guess given those last couple paragraphs, I don’t stop to smell them simply because I’m curious if they smell good or not. I stop and do it because every time I do, it gives me a moment of calm, a moment of just appreciating the nature around us and a moment where I just am.
Okay, I know, that might sound a little too hippy-dippy, be one with nature for you. And that’s okay, I used to get the same response from my friend. But hear me out…
Have you ever been super stressed and just needed to take a minute, take a couple deep breaths, and not think about whatever it is that feels out of your control right then? Or wondered where the advice ‘just take a deep breath and calm down’ comes from?
Well, it’s more than just advice. There’s science behind it.
See, breathing deeply causes a chain reaction in our body that allows our brains to better manage our levels of cortisol production, or what is better known as the ‘stress hormone’. The production of cortisol is actually our body’s natural reaction to a perceived threat and is what triggers our fight-or-flight response. So for our ancestors this was vital to keeping them alive. But now, our brain doesn’t differentiate between life-threatening danger and a work-load that doesn’t seem to be getting any smaller.
Our brain still produces that same reaction.
Now, can you imagine how much we might be feeling that with everything that’s going on in our world right now? When we’re not only stressed about work but are also actually afraid of a very real threat?
I imagine our brains are all on stress overload most of the time right now.
So, I’m not actually writing an entire post about literally stopping and smelling flowers, I’m writing about the value of taking some time out of our days to take a few deep breaths. Step outside and appreciate the fresh air. Let your mind stop thinking or worrying or stressing. Embrace feeling calm and relaxed, even if for just a couple minutes.
Enjoy it, because I guarantee you deserve it.
There’s tons of breathing techniques out there and even more reasons that prove why they work. But the reality is that we often feel like life is a little too crazy to adopt meditation or breathing techniques into our daily routines. Or sometimes you might be thinking, I don’t want to spend 10 minutes a day just breathing, I’ll be so bored.
And though I think you’d surprise yourself with how good you feel afterwards, and how not bored you end up being, I get that we all feel super busy most of the time. And I know that it’s hard for us to take time out for ourselves, and it’s even harder when we’re stressed and likely need it the most.
And though I believe in the power of mediation practices and breathing techniques, I also believe that taking even just a few minutes out of our day can give us back a little control in what feels like an uncontrollable world, and provide us with a brief sense of calm that I without a doubt know you deserve right now.
So, if you didn’t already do it when you first started reading this post, (or even if you did!) go outside and do it now. Take a couple minutes for yourself, ignore the thoughts that this is just a ‘figure of speech’, and actually stop and smell the flowers. I promise you’ll be happy you did.
Until Next Time Searchers.