Just keep moving.

Let’s face it. We’ve all had times in our lives–whether fleeting moments over a few hours or lasting days and weeks–when we were caught up worrying about something or perseverating on a problem.   I recently spoke to someone in this situation and provided the same advice they had given me a few years ago.  “Just keep moving.”

That’s right.  For me, the first time I used that strategy was during the hours before I was scheduled to do something very scary.  At the time, I found myself consumed with thoughts about what could go wrong, whether I could come up with an excuse to avoid it completely, how I would feel if I did bow out, and so on.  It didn’t help that it was January and the shivers from fear as well as cold were indistinguishable.  No, that’s not right.  The cold made the shivers of fear worse.  It very much reminded me of when I was in 8th grade and had to play a solo in front of the band–shaking violently as my palms perspired.  That’s another story.

But along came a friend who noticed my struggle and uttered three simple words–”just keep moving.”  I didn’t need any explanation and knew exactly what they meant. Just keep doing and focusing on what I need to do to get ready.  If you haven’t already guessed, it was stretch, suit up, put the skis on the back of the transport vehicle, get in the vehicle, climb the hill and go.

Well, it worked out, and countless times since, I’ve used the same strategy to manage incidents of stress, times when I was unsure what the outcome would be, finding a solution to a problem and so on.  

“Just keep moving” has enabled me to appear unflappable in spite of the situation.  Funny, though, the more I use this tactic, the correlated reduction in anxiety has given me the space to problem-solve or find a solution I didn’t previously see.  Like “sleeping on it” often helps reveal the answer to that nagging dilemma.

I am not suggesting that this approach makes me brave. Quite the opposite. The fear or angst is always there. But what it does do is free me to think more clearly, or at least be more rational, as I work through the situation.  It also helps prevent me from inadvertently stressing out the people around me. We all know how spending time with someone who is stressed is no fun.  

The point of this is to underscore the importance that we keep moving in spite of the things that might wear us down inside.  It’s also to offer a token of gratitude to that friend who offered me that useful advice so long ago. I am grateful to have learned that, and I hope that you also experience the benefits of the strategy you taught me.

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