Thursday, October 6, 2011

Stop and Smell the Roses

Recently the American Psychological Association (APA) did a study on Stress in America. In this study it was shown that a majority of Americans are living with moderate to high levels of stress. APA states that Americans recognize these high levels of stress as unhealthy and know what it would take to remain healthy, such as: eating right and getting enough sleep and exercising. However, taking such measures has proven to be a challenge due to being too busy and having a lack of energy and motivation. It was said that “[Americans] report being too busy as a primary barrier to preventing them from better managing stress.

I have begun to read our next assignment in class, a book called “The Anxiety Cure” written by Dr. Archibald Hart. Hart sees stress as preparing the way for anxiety which is a major factor for those who work in high functioning and demanding jobs. Overall, Hart seems to attribute stress to the fact that many of us live too fast paced lives. As he said, “If you really want to know why you are so stressed-out, consider the fact that you, like many others, are too hurried, hassled, and overextended.” (Hart, 1999)

After reading part of Hart’s book, I was reminded of another book called “The Life You’ve Always Wanted.” In this book, author, John Ortberg, discusses spiritual disciplines, and one discipline is the practice of “slowing” or the “unhurried life.” Ortberg says that the hurried life is “the enemy of the spiritual life” and can inhibit us from receiving and giving God’s love. We wear ourselves out from doing so many things that we are too tired and overwhelmed to give any part of ourselves to others.

The phrase “stop and smell the roses” never seemed more appropriate to me. I find myself getting impatient at almost anything- when I have to wait at a stoplight, when I am waiting for my food to cook, or waiting in line at the store. I get frustrated and stressed that these tasks cannot go faster because I am thinking of the million other things I need to do. This mentality that all things need to be done instantly and results should be immediate is a very dangerous mentality as a future counselor.

As counselors, we cannot demand immediate results from our clients, it is going to take time. We are going to have to slow down and be willing to go with them on a journey that could take longer than we think. A hurried life also can cause burnout in the counselor which is never productive for the therapeutic relationship. In essence, we somehow have to learn to slow down; most likely we will not have many opportunities to stop this chaotic life, but we must learn to slow down. A hurried life may seem productive but in the end we miss so much along the way and end up causing more stress and anxiety not only for ourselves but those around us. So as I said before, I believe it is time to slow down and “stop and smell the roses.”


  1. I really liked how you connected hurrying through life with hurrying in counseling practice. The counseling process is such a great example of patience and resisting the urge to rush and get on to the next thing.

  2. Slowing down certainly would be nice. It seems that we crate all these tools to help us do more things in less time and all that happens is we are expected to do more because we have tools that make it possible. I remember having a conversation with a student who said he wonders why we need to sleep. He argued that if we didn't need sleep we could get so much homework done. I dont think that is true. I think if we did not have to sleep our work days would be 15 hour shifts, we would be taking 24 credit hours and we would have double the homework. We created email so that we could get our messages to other places more quickly. Now people send and receive hundreds of emails a day.

    How can people slow down without the world flying past them? If I slow down on my homework I will not do well in my class. I completely agree that I would love to slow down, the problem is I am not sure I know how to slow down without sacrificing something that is important. I once heard a teacher say that I could never take a client somewhere I was not willing to go. If that is true, then we need to learn how to slow down as counselors before we can help our clients slow down.
    Good post, sparks some very relevant thought in me.

  3. Great post. As someone that had my own business for over 10 years before returning to school full-time 3 years ago, I can certainly relate to much of what Hart discusses in "The Anxiety Cure". There were never enough hours in the day and always something that needed to be done. But God used the John Ortberg book that you mentioned, "The Life You've always Wanted", and the chapter you mentioned, The Practice of Slowing, to show me how out of balance my life was.

    Since reading that book, when I sense myself getting stressed out, or out of balance, I will do what Ortberg suggests and take a day off for "extended solitude". In fact I am getting ready to do that today!


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