This is a fictional landscape, just something from my imagination, but it was based on a real place in Northern Wisconsin. The place I was inspired by was a wooded area with a waterfall and a single picnic table nearby. There were no flowers, and the scene was slightly different from what I imagined here, but my painting expresses the general vibe for what that place was like.
It was a sanctuary, a hidden retreat from a family camp we were attending. The camp experience had been the wrong fit for us and we were anxious about the whole adventure. We escaped here to this place, to get away from the camp and think about whether or not we were willing to stay until the end. Even though we’d pre-paid for the organized activities for ourselves and our children, the situation felt dysfunctional and pressuring, not our style at all.
I don’t recall how early we left, but we didn’t stay as long as we could have and we dropped out of planned activities. Years later, my favorite memory of that time was when we escaped to the waterfall alone as a family. We’d never have seen that place if we’d not been feeling anxious and in need of a retreat.
Anxiety is defined as an unpleasant emotional state with feelings of dread. There are other definitions as well, including clinical disorders, but for the purpose of this blog post I’m focusing only on the occasional anxiety that is common to all humankind. We all have times when a situation is so miserable that we dread it, maybe even fear it. At the least, we feel stress and apprehension.
When we feel anxiety, it can be helpful to physically remove ourselves from the situation and find a waterfall. But, that’s not often possible! In which case, we can retreat to a spiritual waterfall, as in… calm ourselves into a state as close to “waterfall relaxation” as we can. And in this retreat, we may find lasting enjoyment. Sometimes a miserable feeling pushes us to escape to new positive experiences, habits, and lifestyle changes.
Maybe it helps to watch people like me paint relaxing art? Maybe music is therapeutic, either playing it or listening to it? Maybe physical exercise, a warm cup of tea, reading a book, or sliding under a weighted blanket for a nap is comforting? Whatever your spiritual waterfall is, during challenging times we need to prioritize ways to manage anxiety.
Remember that you aren’t alone. All of us suffer from the human condition of anxiety from time to time, while others may suffer from it chronically. It’s normal to feel anxious when the world feels chaotic, confusing, disturbing, hostile, dark, uncertain and frightening. Find your spiritual waterfall and restore your spirit.