Grab a Book!

When I was in high-school or home on a college break, my mother would often catch me with my nose in the pantry or the fridge. When she did, she would say, "Stop that restless grazing! If you're bored, read a book!" I would dutifully close the door and go grab something from my mother's bookcase.

My brothers ate constantly because they played sports like football and wrestling, which required them to bulk up and maintain weight. I also played sports and burned off calories quickly, but I didn't need to eat like they did. I snacked because I saw them doing it, and my mother redirected this into more productive behavior. I am glad she did, as reading has never harmed anyone but overeating certainly has.

In the days after the earthquake, I found myself doing a lot of two things: sleeping and eating. The sleeping I saw as beneficial. I felt much calmer and clearer after a nap. The eating, not so much.

At first, the food was comforting. It was reassuring to know that I had access to food when so many people did not, and some foods, such as sweets, release dopamine. I also rationalized the eating as biologically driven: bulk up now to withstand impending scarcity. By the third or fourth day of one meal blending into the next (punctuated only by naps!), I recognized my behavior for what it was: restless grazing. I picked up a book and started to read.

Once I started reading, I felt a lot better, a lot calmer. The book took my mind off the news, the crisis, the emails and reports coming in from around Japan and the world, and the constant wondering what the best course of action was. Caught up in the story, the world of my book, I didn't have any desire to eat.

The hysteria is dying down now. The tension of the first few weeks has faded. I am not so wound up that I retreat into slumber, food, or books.

I learned a lot about myself from my reaction to the crisis. I sleep and I eat. Next time, I will sleep and read.


Crisis Resources

Here are some useful resources for residents of Tokyo and/or Japan

Foreign Residents Advisory Center (Tokyo Metropolitan Government)

Migration Agency
-Earthquake and tsunami information for foreigners in Japan

Metropolis Magazine
-Information on electricity and train operations, Tokyo radiation levels, earthquake relief, and more

Tokyo English Life Line
-Suicide prevention line and telephone counseling
-Earthquake news, help, and resources


Reduce Stress with Sleep (Earthquake & Aftermath)

I hope this post finds all of you well. Certainly in stressful times like this, the best thing to do is to stay calm. In my case, staying calm has involved lots of sleep. Sleep restores the body to its best condition, better able to think and cope with the challenges we face while awake. If you are having trouble sleeping because of the stress, I suggest any of the following if possible in your part of Tokyo (access to milk, running water, etc.):

*journalling about your fears to process emotions
*drinking hot milk to induce sleepiness
*drinking chamomile tea or hot water to relax
*taking a hot bath to soothe the body
*stretching to release lactic acid and tension in the muscles
*exercising to burn off tension and restless energy
*deep breathing to release CO2 from the lungs and clear your mind
*meditating to center your mind
*hypnosis to relax mentally and physically

I am available for skype sessions if you need help relaxing or processing the emotions stirred up by this situation. Stay safe and get some sleep!

Best wishes,