Monday, March 15, 2010

The worries we carry...

I was in kindergarten when the Challenger exploded in mid-air, killing everyone on board.

I remember it vaguely. We were all herded into the elementary school cafeteria to watch the shuttle head up into space. It was a big deal because for the first time, a teacher was on board. Our teachers had been talking up the mission for quite some time. From what I can remember, and from what my mom has told me, I had quite a fit after the explosion. Crying, making my teacher take down all of the pictures. It was somewhat traumatizing.

This is my first real example of what I call an "anxiety problem". I stress out about literally anything and everything. Things I can't control? Most definitely. The day of 9/11 I was curled up in my living room, crying and shaking, for hours and hours. Those who know me well know that when I'm having an anxiety attack, it's very hard for me to calm down or be rational. But I don't really like taking altering pills, so I've had to learn to control my anxiety in other ways. It's not always easy.

Exercise helps me a LOT. I went through a span of a few months where I was feeling really down, pretty depressed. I worried about even tiny things, like after-work plans or dinner. I know it was winter at the time, and the lack of sunshine seriously contributes to my lack of good mood. But I also realized that my "restless legs" were coming back at night. That occurs when I lie in bed, and my legs feel like they are going in ten difference directions. It's bizarre and completely uncomfortable. The more I thought about it, the more I realized I wasn't getting any real exercise, and my body/mind were totally fighting me for it.

The very first day I went out for a group run in January, and did 5 miles, I felt great. I rode that runner's high for a good couple of hours. My bad mood just melted away. And the more I ran, the more I realized that my legs were no longer swimming under my covers. Thank goodness!

Yoga helps, too. It's nice to devote an hour and fifteen minutes of my time to just me and myself. Strengthen my core, stretch out my muscles after a week of 20- 25 running miles, and then the best part.... nap time. No, it has a fancy Yoga name, but I love at the end of yoga when I'm told to lie down and close my eyes and relax. And they wake you up by chiming a little bell.... aaaah.

Stress can create really erratic eating patterns in people, too. I tend to eat too little when I'm stressed out. My appetite just disappears. Not healthy. Some people tend to overeat when they're stressed out. Also not good. However, some foods can help you combat stress a little. I like to have a little super dark chocolate, or a banana. They both usually give me a little boost. Caffeine really boosts my mood and makes me feel great, I don't know what it is. Definitely a mood enhancer. So I will have a small cup of green tea or coffee if I'm feeling extra down.

We all worry. Some of us more than others. But we also have to realize, the world is not ours to control. A friend once told me, "the only thing constant is change", and I've carried those words with me for 12 years. Every day is a gift, and we have no way of telling what tomorrow may bring. Why waste those precious moments worrying? Get up. Stretch your legs. Smile. Make a positive change for yourself. And a certain calmness, even happiness will come, if you make the most of your time with the people you love.

until later...

"“It would be great to be able to pass on to someone all of the successes, the failures, and the knowledge that one has had. To help someone, avoid all the fire, pain and anxiety would be wonderful." ~Sylvester Stallone


  1. Thanks for sharing, Jen. I needed to hear that message. You're the best. :-)

  2. This came at the perfect time. I'm often telling my mother with clinical anxiety that she'd feel better if she exercised. But I've noticed that my anxiousness soars when she's going through one of her bouts (daily) and the first thing that has been cut from my routine has been exercise. It's back to the gym! Thanks, JL.