When your seatbelt locks up on you, what do you do? You could yank on it and hear it click over and over again before you eventually just give up. Or you could let it go and try again.

You’re probably already thinking that the stress of starting the new semester has taken away any sliver of sanity that remained in my being, but, I promise you, there is a life lesson to be learned from this. Just bear with me.

Like seatbelts, your brain locks up on you sometimes. There are days when life is overwhelmingly stressful and, no matter how hard you try, you simply cannot get yourself out of the spot you’re in. While there are a ton of things you can do to cover up that stress and put it to the back of your mind, nothing will be truly fixed until you let it go. This is often hard because we live in a world where we are supposed to keep going. No matter what happens, we are expected to get up, brush it off, and move on. So, if you’re anything like me, your first instinct when something’s going not so great is to want it to be over. You simply want to get on with your life and forget about it, much how you want your seatbelt to unlock itself and allow you to smoothly click it in place and move on with your day. Unfortunately, this is not how life typically plays out.

Just like you pull gently when you try to buckle your seatbelt after letting it go, you need to let your brain take it slowly when you’re emerging from a stressful situation.

After releasing your seatbelt and starting over, you often pull slowly and are very gentle with it.

Why is it that we treat an inanimate object with such care, but neglect to give that time to our own bodies?

Unfortunately, I don’t have an answer to this question. Even though this concept makes little sense to me, I too am guilty of rushing my body back to normal before it’s ready just as much as anyone else.

So, here’s my advice: breathe. Let yourself take a few minutes, days, weeks to recover from something that causes your mental seatbelt to lock up on you. Don’t force yourself to push forward before you’re ready – that will only make things worse in the long run. Take time for yourself and let your mind fully recover. As hard as it may be, do not let others tell you that you are taking too long or aren’t doing it right. You know your body better than anyone else – trust your gut. Be gentle. Take it slow. Give it time.

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