Easy Does It

Countless bumper stickers proclaim “Easy Does It.” Does this mean all those drivers want me to apply my brakes?  Maybe.  Recently I have found out it means a bit more.

During my last routine doctor’s visit I complained of my heart rate always being too high when I checked my blood pressure and pulse every morning. It had been hovering too close to 100 to suit me….especially since I take it early in the morning after a good night’s sleep when I should be rested and relaxed.

To appreciate the full context of this dialogue between myself and my physician, you need to realize I have taught mental health nursing  for over thirty years at a variety of universities. Imagine how taken aback I was when my doctor suggested I was experiencing anxiety. My immediate reply was, “but I am not afraid of anything.” To  make matters worse, she then suggested I was having some sort of panic episodes.  I very assertively declared that I had seen panic reactions and I was definitely not having something of that sort.

Next, my doctor wanted to prescribe an anxiety medication to lower my heart rate. The prescription read, “take as needed.” The pharmacist that filled it asked if my doctor said how often to take it. I said no, but that I had often, as a nurse, given it to patients approximately  4-6 hours between doses usually 2-4 times a day. I further told the pharmacist I didn’t plan on taking it more than once every week or so, if that often.

Now, back  in the day, I would have welcomed this prescription with glee. But the part of me that knows about recovery knows this particular type of medication is one of the most addictive medications on the market. Knowing that, I still took one dose, rationalizing my doctor knew best and that I did need to get my heart rate down. The one dose worked. I was in a fog for a couple of days, and the bottle of pills has been tucked away in a hard to reach, rarely accessed area of a top shelf ever since. Surprisingly, I hated the way that one pill made me feel.

My doctor did give me some good advice though. She said to sit still for a couple of minutes and to take a couple of deep breaths before I check my heart rate and blood pressure. Since I’ve followed that advice, my heart rate has been in the 70s and 80s (a much healthier place).

What does this have to do with “easy does it”?  I learned that even though I have helped countless others relax I need to do so myself even though I was not aware of needing to do so. This has triggered an “easy does it” paradigm shift in my approach to life. I have been filling my semi-retirement with a volunteer schedule that kept me as busy if not more busy than when I was working full time. I still have and honor a lot of volunteer responsibilities, but I am aware of doing so in a much more relaxed manner. Several times a day I make myself sit still and relax my  mind and my body. My perception of feeling driven, of pushing to get everything done has given way to a much more relaxed feeling of just letting things happen. Cutting my daily coffee intake from 8-12 cups a day to 4-5 cups a day has helped tremendously. I knew caffeine was contributing to my higher heart rate, but, until now, I just was not willing to alter that particular addictive behavior.

So, when I see one of those bumper stickers now, I know, for me, it means take a deep breath, relax, and realize that God is doing for me what I cannot do for myself, that my life is truly in God’s hands, and I might as well slow down and take time to enjoy this gift of life God has given me.

Looking forward to reading your thoughts on this one. 🙂