In June I went camping with 120 girls between the ages of 11 and 17. I had the wonderful responsibility and privilege of mentoring and overseeing the 16 and 17-year-old youth camp leaders.
On the second day of camp, the youth leaders over the 11-year-olds expressed concerns that the girls were becoming grumpy, homesick and mean to one another. The adult leaders started consulting about what to do. Some suggested an intervention, others volunteered to teach a team-building class, and others gave various advice to the leaders of those girls. People were feeling worried and stressed and the feeling was contagious.
The next day, I spoke with another of my youth leaders about the situation. She seemed very relaxed and told about an experience that she had had earlier that day. She explained that the girls were being negative and catty, and were grumpily and lazily complaining in their tents. When this youth leader approached them, they complained of how hot, humid and uncomfortable they were in their tent. And do you know how she responded? She asked them why they didn’t unzip the window to their tent. “We can do that?!” was their response. They unzipped the wall cover of their tent and were soon enjoying a pleasant breeze and their moods noticeably improved.
Sometimes in life, we recognize or hear about a problem and we get all hyped up about it. We envision some great response to try to solve what we assume to be a complicated problem. And we end up experiencing more distress from our worry than from the actual stressor.
And, most amazingly, often, the solution we need isn’t one that we would directly link to the symptoms. Those girls needed a refreshing breeze, not an intervention.
Oftentimes, people don’t need medication or therapy. They do need a friend to talk to. They need to take time to rest, to laugh, and to spend time doing things they love and with people they love. Perhaps they need to sleep more, eat healthier, and exercise more regularly.
If you aren’t happy, before you turn to anti-depressants or therapy, consider if you are missing any of these simple solutions in your life: exercising, spending time outdoors, focusing on family, making time for friends, finding meaning in work, contributing to your community, and getting enough sleep at night.
Perhaps making one of these things will be the open tent window you need. Remember, simple solutions are often all that is needed to resolve complex problems. “By small and simple things are great things brought to pass”.