There is more to life than increasing its speed.

– Ghandi

Guess what I got in the mail yesterday?

Something I had pre-ordered and promptly forgotten about.

Something inanimate that has really good timing.

the chemistry of calm

The Chemistry of Calm, by Dr. Henry Emmons. This new book focuses on anxiety, while The Chemistry of Joy‘s focus was depression.

The Chemistry of Calm is, by the way, a great book to take with you when you are going to have to wait for a few minutes at your mammogram appointment. ( :

It made me feel very calm, cool, and collected this morning.

I know that it’s not supposed to be a comedic book, but I smiled. In fact, I actually laughed out loud when I read this excerpt from the introduction: “A Short History of Anxiety:”

Hippocrates, the father of medicine, believed that hysteria was caused by the uterus (hystera in Greek) moving upward and compressing the diaphragm, lungs, and heart. The ancient Greeks believed that this occurred because of sexual anxiety or frustration. Surprisingly, these ideas persisted through the eighteenth century, when the famous French psychiatrist Philippe Pinel and others suggested marriage and childbearing as a treatment for hysteria.

Because, after all, what every woman needs when she is dealing with hysteria is to get married and have babies! For heaven’s sake…thank God I did not live in ancient Greece!


I am going out of order here with my winter toolkit, to match what’s going on in my life. This one should–if I agreed with using the word should in situations like this, that is–be number four, but guess what? Presto! It’s becoming number three and no one was hurt in the process.

Part three: Adjusting my schedule/lifestyle to work for my energy levels

A sweet friend asked me yesterday: What, if anything, helps on days like this? (i.e. a very low energy day)

My answer: Well I just try to keep going. Today I am trying some self care in the form of lunch with a friend outside and then a massage. I have to somewhat limit my social and physical requirements. And I accept that this is the way I feel, and I don’t judge or wish for something else. Just waiting and (ok) a bit of sighing and going through the motions really slowly. It is what it is.

Since the beginning of September, I have been on a MAJOR productivity bender. It’s 50% because I enjoy doing all of the things I do (except for cleaning the house, which I have talked about in a previous blog post so I won’t go there again) and 50% because I simply don’t have a choice right now. In my line of work–marketing and fundraising–the activities of the next two months are critical. My clients need me to be in top form right now. And I have been really working it.

I need to dial it all down asap so that I can maintain my pace for the marathon ahead. I’m struggling to slow myself down, even though I’m exhausted.

And this is one of the reasons that the arrival of the Chemistry of Calm yesterday was so helpful; it offers some really concrete reminders about what I already know to be useful in managing my energy levels this time of year:
Nature is built upon rhythms and cycles: day followed by night, activity followed by rest, tension followed by relaxation. Observing nature reveals over and over again the importance of rhythms and cycles–basic life principles that we would do well to follow. There is a natural need for the body to cycle between activity and rest, movement and stillness. Life is not linear, though we try to make it so with constant productivity or continuous improvement. It ebbs and flows, and then does so again. Your own life may be enhanced if you learn to flow with it, to honor the restorative rhythms of rest and relaxation.
In other words, go with the flow rather than fighting against it.
Quality sleep is a powerfully protective cornerstone of resilience. Problems with sleep affect fifty to seventy million Americans. The most common problem is sleep deprivation–if you are like most people, you need about one hour more than you are getting each night. Most adults need approximately seven to eight hours per night but are only getting six to seven hours.

In other words, start getting more sleep. You need it.

How to extend your sleep time?
  • Choose a wake-up time that you can live with–preferably between six and eight in the morning. Get up within an hour of that time every day, even on weekends.
  • See if you can stretch out your nights by gradually allowing yourself an earlier bedtime. Go to bed about fifteen minutes earlier each night until you wake at your desired time without an alarm.
  • Keep yourself to that schedule for at least two or three weeks. When you consistently wake refreshed without an alarm you’ve discovered the amount of sleep you really need.
  • Note that your natural sleep amount may change over the course of the year–most need less in the summer and more in the winter. Allow yourself to change, within limits, with the seasons.
  • Aim for seven to nine hours per night throughout the year, and keep your wake up time consistent.

Here’s more info on how to order the Chemistry of Calm, and Dr. Emmons’ blog and web site. Trust me, you don’t have to be a highly anxious person to benefit from his insight. Anybody who deals with any kind of stress should take a look because the suggestions are rooted in common sense and are very achievable.

Plus, it’s only $10.20.

Time to adjust my dial. Better go get some zzzzs.