How to lower your stress and improve the quality of your life


“A 'No' uttered from deepest conviction is better and greater than a 'Yes' merely uttered to please, or what is worse, to avoid trouble.“

- Mahatma Gandhi


Shallow scene of immense clarity - another scene 6165873687Everything essential is in its optimal place for the sustainability of all. We need this kind of clarity too.  JP)    *pix

Acting out an eating disorderis an attempt to cope with anxiety, grief, anger, loneliness and even happiness.  A certain level of stress created by external events or inner psychological habits becomes intolerable.  To binge or restrict is a way to gain control and feel powerful instead of feeling overwhelmed. emotions.                


Yes, reducing stress reduces the need to act out an eating disorder.  But simply living a life of reduced stress puts you in a vulnerable situation.  You may be guarded against new opportunities for expanding your quality of life since anything new might cross your protective boundaries and bring on stress that you can only mange by falling into your eating disorder.

Here's a way out of this stuck situation. Gandhi validating of power of saying no is relevant here. We can find ways to apply what he said in how you live now.

  1. Where is your "No"?
  2. When do you wish you can say it?
  3. To whom do you want to say, "No"? (you can include yourself too.)
  4. What fuels your deepest conviction?
  5. What value do you gain by pleasing others?
  6. Why is it important for you to avoid trouble?

Take notes about events, situations, requests, behavior where you wanted to say no.

Consider this activity part of your normal routine.

Keeping a record of wished for no's, raises your awareness. That is always the first step leading to positive changes.

When you start actually saying no, start small and be clear. Taking on too big of a no too soon can trigger you and send you to a binge or pounding the treadmill.

For example, you can look at one room or closet or drawer in your home.

Evaluate the contents.

Sort the contents into categories:

  • what you use,
  • what you save,
  • what you don't use but might use,
  • what you don't use but keep for emotional reasons,
  • what you use but wish were in better shape,
  • what you keep because you don't know what to do with it,
  • what you keep because someone will be offended if you don't.

As you sort, be aware of what gets in the way of your saying "No," to the presences of an article that you don't use or don't care about or never want to use again.

Be aware of what sets off emotions in you.  Is this something you want to give more space and honor in your life?  Perhaps it's a newspaper clipping of a subject you are interested in and want to study but haven't so far. Or it might be a photo of a person who represents a way of thinking or living that you admire and want for your own.

As you reorder this space, allow yourself to be assertive.  Keep what is valuable to you and remove what is not. You say "No."  Perhaps you can recycle your discards in some way that feels right to you.  You let what is not useful to you have an opportunity to be useful to someone else in the same form or in a new form.  But you remove it from your living  and emotional space.

When you do this regularly you do far more than clear your space.  You make your space and its contents more relevant to what you care about and value.

You exercise your ability to recognize and be firm about what is not important to you and  deepen your conviction about what "No" means to you and the way you live your life. 

You discover that your conviction strengthens and empowers you beyond a need for your eating disorder.  The eating disorder is less of a solution to your stresses.  You deal with your stress with the power of your conviction to say, "No."

  1. Can you select a corner, drawer, closet, desk, room and sort in this way?
  2. What did you choose and why did you choose it?
  3. What did you find that you kept keep?
  4. What did recycle?
  5. Where did you find saying "No" a challenge?
  6. How did you feel when you said "No" and disposed of what was no longer relevant to you?
  7. What are the consequences, so far, of your life honoring exercise?


*pix  Daedalus Reef by Derek Keats, Johannesburg, South Africa, Creative Commons



0 # In the midst of a systematic overhaulshh 2014-09-18 14:23

Last November I completely redecorated & refitted out my study - I think after splitting up from my husband earlier in the year, but staying in the family home, I needed something that was mine, a symbol of a fresh start on my own. I love that room, it is still easily my favourite room in the house. What is it about that room that is so different to the others? Well for a start it's 'mine', and done to my slightly quirky taste - the rest of the house is still full of the safe, compromise, furnishings, the ones I didn't really like, but at least we could agree on. On one wall there is a picture montage - some painted by myself, some by my children, some small prints or postcards that I just liked, and one containing the message my old therapist wrote down for me when we parted that just says "I believe in you". I don't need that message anymore, but it's sincere and warm and there if I should ever fall into a dark place where I lose my self-belief and need that encouragement. All the pictures on that wall exude warmth or love or caring in some way. also in the room are my big orange reading chair, which is just full of warmth & energy, and a big bowl full of layered gravel and cacti - I do wonder whether they are there subconsciously because they are resilient, the always manage to keep on going and stay alive regardless of what is going on around them.

Well since then I have really toyed with leaving the family home, because I can't afford to stay there with the girls without some financial support from my ex-husband. He never directly uses that against me, but I do worry that if I ever do anything that displeases him, that he could pull the rug from under our feet. In a way I feel like it stops me exerting my "no" as forcefully as I would if I wasn't dependent upon him in that way. He says that's me putting my pride ahead of the girls' welfare, I don't see it as a pride thing at all, but I do agree that my girls benefit from staying in their home.

Recently though, I have found the confidence to believe, that even if he did pull the rug from under our feet financially, that somehow I would find a way to stay here (I've looked into refinancing and that kind of thing), and so in the last few months I have finally started to settle and started to accept that this is MY home, it is no longer OUR home (as husband & wife)... and with that new found ability to feel ready to settle and stop worrying about the future and the 'what ifs', I have felt like it's finally okay to make it "my home" (well mine and the girls'). I no longer need to hold on to all the trappings of my marriage that fill this house, I can let go of it all. And so I am gradually trying to work my way around the house now, as much as finances will allow.

We re-furnished and decorated my eldest daughter's bedroom over the summer, my younger daughter doesn't want new furniture just a declutter and walls painting - which we are mid way through, and my own room is next on the agenda - I already have the new furniture stored in my garage ready.

I find it quite easy to part with stuff. There's only one thing so far that has bothered me, and that was a card and note that I found, from him, from when I was pregnant with our first child, thanking me for having his child, saying how excited he was, how much he loved me and promising to take good care of us both forever. It made me feel betrayed, like he'd betrayed both me and his girls. I toyed with keeping it so that our eldest would know that at least he felt that way at one point, but then what if it made her feel betrayed and let down too? I didn't want her to feel that, so I binned them.

As things are at the moment I have bags and bags of things that need rehoming. I could easily find homes for everything, between a local "buy, sell, swap & give away" group that I'm part of, and a couple of charities that I often pass things on to, but my youngest is insistent that she wants to do a 'car boot sale' (I guess that would be a 'trunk sale' to you?) they are here, cluttering up my house (as the garage has my new furniture in), and driving me insane - but until we've finished going through everyone's bedrooms there's no point in paying to take part in a car boot sale.

Interestingly, I really don't like selling our things at a car boot sale - I'm going along with it to please my youngest and let her get a feel for how it is to wheel and deal and be enterprising, I think it will be a good experience for her. My own feelings are that the cost of those items is a sunk cost, I never bought them expecting them to have a resale value, and it pleases me to give them away to people who otherwise couldn't afford them ...I like to think that maybe one day if I was in that situation that there might be people out there who would do that for me too. This is an area where I'd really quite like to say "no" we're not selling our belongings, we'll give them to someone less fortunate than ourselves, and I can have that room empty and tidy again within a day.... but I won't assert my no, I will support a 6 year old in her wishes to explore trading and the ways of the World.


0 # We call them garage sales or estate salespinkjoanna 2014-09-19 20:38

Dear Shh,

Staying with the Gandhi quote I'd say that you are saying "No" to your old agendas based on a deep conviction that your young daughter needs support for her worldly and maturing adventures into real life economics.

Sounds like you are doing great!

0 # UghPTC 2014-09-20 16:17
My life couldn't be more stressful right now.  I feel like I'm about to lose my job and I've been freaking out.  This makes me not want to eat and go running, which I'm not supposed because I got a concussion.  I don't know if I can hold out any longer though.  I haven't run in over 2 months because of this and I can't take it anymore.  I can't take the stress of the job situation and I can't take not being able to work out like I want to.  I don't know, maybe I'll just go running anyway and see how I feel.  I won't know if I'm better unless I try it.  I can't wait another month until I see a neurologist.  Too much going on right now and running might help my stress level.  I'm just rambling.  Sorry.
0 # PTC and stresspinkjoanna 2014-09-20 17:12

Dear PTC,

Yikes.  Please use your creativity and find what soothes you, at least a little.  You need alternatives to running for your own health and well being.  Without your health your choices becomes more limited in this life.

Maybe you are about to lose your job and maybe not.  Sounds like you don't know and your anxiety is running away with you.

Please use your fear as an arrow pointing to issues you need to address.

What are your job qualifications?

What additional skills and trainings will either make more more indispensable where you are
more desirable in other job settings and to other employers?

I'm here because I just checked into the site while taking a break from my homework at is fantastic.  There is no reason for anyone to feel they can't afford to increase the education.  Classes, all online and from the best universities, are free.  If you want credit for taking and passing a class, you pay $49.00.

I highly recommend  

Sounds like you don't even like your job.  So this is even more reason to equip yourself to do something you do like and get paid for it.

Come on, PTC.  What feels like stress and anxiety may be adventure and a new life calling you. 

0 # Ugh againPTC 2014-09-20 17:30
My anxiety is running a freaking marathon, that's for sure.  It didn't help that when I was turning my light out to go to bed last night, a HUGE waterbug was crawling on my nightstand.  I FREAKED and jumped out of bed.  I've never seen one in my apartment, ever, and right before bed.  Of course then I really couldn't sleep.

I feel like I have no skills and am not qualified to do anything.  I have a master's degree in Journalism, you'd think I'd feel like I'm capable of something.  I got out of the field, and you're correct, I don't love my job, but I feel like everything that I'd want to do, my dream jobs, are impossible to land.

I hate this!!!  Of course the stress is really killing my appetite, which might be an issue when I get weighed on Friday.  Blah!

I'm going to check out that site.  Thanks.
0 # time for a new dream?pinkjoanna 2014-09-20 18:49

Dear PTC,

First,  know about those water bugs. They are huge.  Talk about a wake up call!

Never did I have on my list of dreams and goals to study about economics, business, manufaturing, the chemistry of floor carpeting and the design of heating systems.  But here I am, going for my certificate in sustainability at UCLA and learning about these things in a way that matters to me and to all of us whether all of us know it or not.

I'm also taking an introductory to sustainabiity class through given my J Tomkins, PhD, at Univeristy of Illinios.  It's wonderful and bringing me up to date on what I think is the most important issue facing all of us today - again - whether all of us know it or not.

In terms of jobs, the field of sustainability is vast covering areas of social justice, employee management, manufacturing, science, government, land, water and air of the world, health, forestry, animal husbandy, agriculture, what we eat, buy, use, philosophy, spirituality, creative connections between and among people in local communities and throughout the world.  I mean, it includes everything!

And, because giving attention is relatively new but is a field that is growing with lightning speed, thank goodness, jobs are opening up all the time.  And opportunities to create your own job are also present.

Go exploroing, PTC.  There's so much more for your fine mind to be thinking about and wonderful ways for you to be using your energy.  Under that stress of yours is a lot of terrific energy you can use and that the world wants and needs.

0 # I lookedPTC 2014-09-21 04:57
I checked out the classes, nothing really popped out at me and interested me.  Oh well.
0 # Saying no, saying yes. Speaking up for myself.mylifex2 2014-10-20 19:11
I enjoyed reading this post, Joanna. I was just thinking about the ways I say yes or no when I want to say the opposite. The following is something I realized about myself just today. 

So I have Lupus. I frequently don't feel well either because of the meds, or because of the joint pain or because  I've gotten sick from having a compromised immune system. Regardless, I always question how I'm feeling when I'm not sure if I can work and am contemplating calling out or leaving early. My mental dialogue goes something like this. 

"Are you sick ENOUGH to call out? Are you being a wimp and a baby? Is my boss going to believe me? Will she be mad? I know we are short staffed...maybe I should just go in..."

Im not sure where or when it started but I have a difficult time rating my pain. I don't seem to know how I feel, then I question my thoughts about my pain, then cave in to my boss' plea for me to come in to work. "Maybe I'm not really in pain, or maybe others could handle this pain better than I??"

i hope this makes sense because it is a frequent happening that I can't say no or defend myself when I'm sick or feeling bad. I know I was always hiding emotional pain as a kid. I had to suck up the madness of my sexual abuse. I wasn't about to tell my mom why my jaw hurt all the time - we will just stick with "the soccer ball hit me in the head "...

so yes I struggle with yes and no. 

I am not a complete hoarder, I just don't have a lot of room for all my stuff. I have belonged to a free cycle grpup for several years. It's easier to give stuff away to people who need it, than to throw things away - especially when I don't think they have worn out their usefulness :-)
0 # Tracy and challengepinkjoanna 2014-10-20 19:51

Dear Tracy,

Thank you for posting this.  Your inner dialogue as you try to rate your level of pain and discomfort is a powerful challenge.  All of us have to do this, but not all of us have Lupus and need to do this regularly.

This week end I had expected to be on the other side of the country for a high school reunion.  I was looking forward to it.  But I came down with a bug. And there's the inner conversation.  "I'm not that sick."  "Yeah, but your vulnerable and flying plus the stress of taxis, hotels will assault you."  "But I might get better in time."  "Dream on. You head is slightly stuffed.  Do you know what happens to a stuffy head when the pressure changes at altitude?"  "But I could take a nasal decongestant via sniffing before I get on the plane."  Do you want to take that risk? It's a longish flight." "No. I don't want that pain. And I don't want to be sick alone in a hotel room 3,000 miles away from home either."  "All right then. Cancel the flight and see if you can get some money back and send your regrets."  "Okay."

Your situation is more about physical pain that is a familiar occurrence.  Can you device a system that helps you evaluate your pain, preferably in a non emergency time?

I wonder if it's possible for you to create a realistic rating system that can guide you, even when your emotions lead you into negative self talk.

Then you might have more confidence is your decision to say yes or no.

I just looked up, "rating pain on a scale of 1 - 10" on google. I got over 29 million sites. You are certainly not alone in trying to discriminate between levels of pain.  Perhaps you could find a scale or several scales and work with them to create your own that works for you.

Thank you so much for bringing up the importance of pain evaluation in saying yes or no.

And, I have a favorite thrift shop where I bring my still usable recyclables.  Just today I brought in three bags of children's videos and DVD's plus two lamp shades.  Someone will be glad to have them, and I'm glad for the freed up space. :-)

0 # Read this againmylifex2 2015-04-24 16:45
I just read this blog post again because I am in a very desperate panicky place. A lot has been going on in my life the past few months. I entered a weekend eating disorder intensive program and had to quit after two weekends because my mother has been doing very poorly and my dad needed me. Of course, I drop everything I'm working on for my health because I deeply care for my parents and only a couple of my 10 siblings will do anything to help them.

i had to call the police on my mom about a month ago. She has dementia with agitation. She threw a vacuum at me and hit my dad, threatened to stab the cat and kill other family members and herself.
it was a hard thing for me to do. But she finally got put on Meds as she has refused to go to a doctor.

We have to crush her meds but they are kicking in and she is less hostile than before. She's even agreed to go to the doctor. 

I have been really anoxious and depressed because I have way too much on me. I also have bought a new home. I have so little time to get packed and cleaned. I'm exhausted from my lupus and my stress level is not allowing my blood sugars to dip under 250 for the past 4 months. 

My family expects me to have all the answers. After all, I work with patients with dementia and their families. So I do things that I feel are in her best interest. I educate my family on her Meds and get orders for home health. I make appointments. I go to the appointments when she wont.
but all I get is resistance from my family. why this Med? Why did the doctor do this or that? Why did I not get the appointment sooner? Why dont I call mom every day?

im at a breaking point and need some advice on how to deal with all this stress. I try to set limits but that backfires too.

i need a vacation so bad. I feel I have no safe place - home is stressful with a 14 year old acting up and work stays stressful. I feel like I caretake 24/7. No, I do caretake 24/7. 

the only thing remotely relevant to this blog posting, I'm now realizing, is that I have been sorting out things as I pack. I regularly give things away to a free cycle Facebook page I belong to. I need to get moving with the pacKing utilizing the sorting method above, but I'm almost immobilized with anxiety
 to get hardly anything done. 

guys i could use some suggestions for getting it together. I want to just pack up my kids and go to the beach for a few days but funds don't allow it right now. 

Thanks <3
0 # Thinking of youpinkjoanna 2015-05-20 17:02
Dear Tracy,

How are you doing?  I've been thinking about you.  Your comment inspired the article I posted today.


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