Days 16 & 17: Calm, Cool, and Collected

When I talk about the beneficial impacts of implementing healthy habits, I often talk about the increase in my energy levels.  What I have noticed, but have failed to mention here, is the corresponding reduction in my anxiety levels.

I am a pretty high-strung person.  I am intense, I talk fast, I worry a lot, I stress out often about everything and sometimes about nothing in particular.  Sometimes I get worried when I am not worried because I know that there was something that required worrying, but I just can’t remember what it was.

This is part of who I am, and it was apparent at a very young age.  As a child, not understanding the concept of recurring  income, I would lie awake at night worried that if my parents kept spending money that they most certainly were going to run out.   I was deathly afraid of heights, high speeds, and falling on the ice and cracking my head open.  And I was pretty sure that there was a ghost living in the unfinished spare room immediately adjoining  my bedroom.  I worried like my life depended on it, as if my constant concern would keep any horrible outcome at bay

Flash forward 20 years and add 3 cups a coffee per day and real, live, actual adult stresses, and you get me, a person who suffers from a decent amount of anxiety.  Generalized, can’t-quite-put-your-finger-on-the-cause anxiety.   Spending sleepless night freaking out about some work assignment, or phone call I neglected to return, or just nothing really but it seems like a big deal at 4am.

Which brings me to my most recent discovery. 

I am not nearly as stressed out and anxious since I have started this challenge.

It’s difficult to tie this benefit to any one rule.  There are studies linking alcohol and increased anxiety levels, caffeine and increased incident of panic attacks, and increases in exercise with decreases in stress (despite my constant claim that exercising is stressing me out).  I am also meditating and doing yoga, recommended remedies included in most anxiety-reducing regimens.

It will be interesting to see, when and if I start incorporating some of my less-healthy habits back into my life, how my stress levels will react.  I don’t know, we’ll have to wait and see.  One thing I do know is that I am feeling calm, cool, and collected, and that I will sleep soundly tonight.

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