Managing Stress and Anxiety: Pills or Positive Affirmations?

A couple of weeks ago, my doctor suggested I see a psychiatrist for anxiety.  Why? I had to go to urgent care because I was unable to breathe.  After a chest x-ray, EKG, and a myriad of blood tests I found out that nothing was wrong with me. I was just anxious and having a panic attack.  It seems that life’s little stressors slowly build up until my body screams out in rejection. Since that night I gasped for air for about an hour, I haven’t had any breathing problems.  Yet, I have tightness in my chest when I’m feeling overwhelmed.  Needless to say, that happens frequently.  I have to get this under control because stress can kill me.  According to WebMD, 75-90% of doctor visits are due to stress related ailments, as was my $175 doctor visit to urgent care, and I don’t need any more of those.

The only option my doctor gave me to manage the stress (and panic attacks) is to see a psychiatrist. A psychiatrist can do two things really.  They can prescribe pills for me to take on a daily basis, or they can prescribe pills to take whenever I’m feeling overwhelmed, anxious or panicky.  It’s tempting.  A legal drug that can calm me down without any conscious effort on my part. No work, no lifestyle change, just a tiny pill that can change how I’m feeling in an instant. But I won’t do it.  I hate taking pills everyday for allergies. I would have to take anti-anxiety meds forever. I don’t want to subject myself to a legal addiction. My stress and anxiety won’t go away if I don’t kill it at its source or manage it effectively. Besides, pills aren’t free. Reducing stress however, is.

Clearly, getting rid of junk and clearing my schedule (not that I’m close to being finished) isn’t enough to fix my stress problem.  I still get angry at work, at other drivers, and at life in general.  I get particularly angry at situations I can’t control, but I’m learning to deal with them.  Lately, I’ve been listening to the recordings of Sunday church sermons.  They keep me grounded.  I very rarely go to church but I like to listen to the podcasts of the sermons at my leisure.

Unity, my church, is an extremely liberal Christian church that, in my opinion, encourages members to find their own way.  One of the church’s tenants is to utilize positive affirmations to change your thoughts and to change your life. Some of Unity’s belief system has many parallels to Rhonda Byrne’s “The Secret,” but Unity has been around much, much longer. That’s all I’ll say about Unity because I hate when people get preachy. I’m sure you have your own Church, Temple, Mosque, or whatever that lays down life-guidelines for you. My suggestion: follow them if they help you feel better. If you want more information about what I do, you’ll seek it out.

I digress.  I wanted to share with you some of the positive affirmations I pulled out of the church sermons; I try to focus on them when things get rough.

Following God’s guidance I move forward with enthusiasm and expectancy.

I appreciate where I am because the idea of where I want to be came to me here and now.

I am centered and poised in the perfect unfolding of all good. I let go and let God reveal my next step.

All is orderly and perfectly revealed; God is at work and in charge of my life.

God and I are a majority.

My emotions reveal the quality of my thinking, not the quality of my life.

If those don’t work for you, that’s fine.  Find your own positive affirmations that you can say and believe. But these, especially that first one, has given me a new positive attitude, and I stress, just a little less.

Other site’s to check out:

More information about Positive Affirmations

6 Affirmation Secrets to Make You Feel Better

A Minimalist in Miami: Stay-cations

'Miami from Key Biscayne' photo (c) 2010, Daniel Reichert - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/ It’s hard to stop spending because we are moving too fast to take inventory of what we have, what we want, and what we truly need.

— TCC

Every other weekend or so, I drive 45 minutes down to Miami to see my boyfriend. I usually try to put myself on a schedule to get out the door, beat traffic, and spend as much time down there as possible.   That is a mistake and plays into the fast paced way of life here in the US that I’m trying very hard to escape.

I realized that if I just slowed down, spent more time preparing for my trips down to Miami, I wouldn’t forget so much stuff or bring crap I didn’t need. I could cook something if I wanted to. I could remember my sunglasses and my hair wrap.  I could run all the necessary errands before leaving. Rushing and lack of preparation causes unnecessary spending. Whatever essentials I forget, I have to buy. That means more money spent and wasted.

I’d like to live as a minimalist.  As you already know, I’m cleaning out the clutter.  Minimalist living also means light packing.  And packing light is something I’ve never done, even if it’s for two or three days.  My hair, in and of itself, requires so many products and tools just to get it to look presentable, and to put it up at night. Then, I have to pack my dog. And prepare for various situations that might arise, like daily torrential downpours and more than likely work-outs.  Not to mention all of the challenges I face with packing just because I’m a girl. By slowing down, I could figure out what exactly I absolutely need for my trips.

So this past weekend, I spent the majority of my Saturday getting everything ready for my Miami trip. I even did laundry and cleaned my bedroom. I took care of all of my needs; I didn’t forget anything and I wont be spending any unnecessary money.  This is all great except for two things.  I still brought way too much stuff.  I may have got the amount of clothes down to the essentials, I still had 5 small bags.  (clothes, toiletries, dog stuff, laptop, and lunchbox.) I had everything I needed, and I’ll use about 97% of everything I brought, but it’s still too much.

If I really wanted to get down to the bare essentials, I need to leave my laptop and my lunchbox at home. I’ll have to disconnect from the internet world for the duration of time I spent in Miami–sometimes it’s 3 or 4 days. My laptop is my writing notebook, so it’s hard to leave it at home; I no longer carry the composition notebook like I did when I was a teen.  But that’s a story for another day.

Nonetheless, it felt good taking my time to get ready and take care of everything a slow pace.  Now, to apply that principle to everything else in my life…

Mastering the Art of Slow: The Grocery Store

A cute little story about patience in the grocery store:

A man observed a woman in the grocery store with a three year old girl in her basket. As they passed the cookie section, the child asked for cookies and her mother told her “no.” The little girl immediately began to whine and fuss, and the mother said quietly, “Now Ellen, we just have half of the aisles left to go through; don’t be upset. It won’t be long.”

He passed the mother again in the candy aisle. Of course, the little girl began to shout for candy. When she was told she couldn’t have any, she began to cry. The mother said, “There, there, Ellen, don’t cry. Only two more aisles to go, and then we’ll be checking out.”

The man again happened to be behind the pair at the check-out, where the little girl immediately began to clamor for gum and burst into a terrible tantrum upon discovering there would be no gum purchased today. The mother patiently said, “Ellen, we’ll be through this check out stand in five minutes, and then you can go home and have a nice nap.” The man followed them out to the parking lot and stopped the woman to compliment her. “I couldn’t help noticing how patient you were with little Ellen…” The mother broke in, “My little girl’s name is Tammy… I’m Ellen.”

Thank goodness I don’t have any children I have to bring shopping with me.  But I do have to flex my patience muscles when dealing with the other people I encounter. Patience is easier to come by when you are mastering the art of slow.  I was at the drugstore the other day and an elderly employee at the checkout register was having some difficulty with the checkout machine. I was trying to be patient and understanding, but the rest of the line was freaking out. It’s hard to move at a slower pace while I’m out shopping when everyone else is on speed.  Ever since I’ve decided to slow down, I’ve noticed that the world is whirling by me, and conspiring against my lifestyle change. Here 5 ways to avoid letting impatience get the best of you:

Get it out of your head that you are making just a “quick trip.”  Nothing about grocery shopping is quick, really.  If you stop trying to squeeze in the grocery store before work, during your lunch,  while you are starving, or have to pee, you won’t be in such a rush.  There will always be long lines, cashiers who don’t know what they are doing, and malfunctioning cash registers. Go to the store when you have plenty of time. Otherwise, get used to it and go with the flow.

Go shopping during non-peak times.  I prefer to go shopping when there are less people out and about. I can take my time comparing items without people hurrying by or rushing me along. The employees of the store seem to be more at ease when the store is slower.  They can take time to help me when there aren’t 50 other people vying for their attention at the same time.  Not to mention, I can always find a pretty good parking space if I’m shopping at an off time.

Use a hand basket, not a cart. Not only will you be limited to buying what you actually need, you will be able to limit your spending.  Furthermore, you will find that you have a much easier time navigating the aisles if the store is busy.

Let impatient people go ahead of you in line. It’s hard to be move more slowly and be patient when the person behind you is tapping their foot, looking at their watch and making loud, obnoxious sighs.  They may not even be that obvious about their unwillingness to wait.  Sometimes their strained face and tense body posture will give them away.  Let them skip you in line.  Even if they decline, and you insist, they will be extremely glad to go. They maybe be embarrassed by their impatience, but that isn’t your problem.

Don’t be afraid to tell people what you need. If you need a second to put you change away, tell the cashier. If you want your receipt first, tell them.  Just be nice about it. I like to separate my receipt from my dollar bills, and my dollar bills from my coins.  It’s kind of hard to do when they hand it to me in one big pile. And then the bag boys are usually trying to hand me my bags before I’ve even got the chance to put my change and receipt in my wallet. If you tell them hang on a second, the cashier and bag boys have no choice but to wait.  Remember, you, the customer, are always right. 🙂

Ignore people who are rushing you along. I’m a slow payer at the checkout. Usually, I’m still putting my change in my wallet when they start with the next customer. It’s even worse with the next person’s groceries are intermingling mine  and the plastic bags become indistinguishable. That person is usually staring at me like, “why is this girl so slow? she’s young and healthy.” The best thing you can do is ignore them.  You are leaving momentarily; they can wait.