Parts Per Million…Parts Per Billion

As our descent into modern-day madness continues, we’ll turn to just about anything for comfort. I know I have.

Test tubes with liquids inside.

Lately, when things go wrong, I’ve been counting off numbers in my head for assurance.

Not normal 1,2,3 numbers, but scientific numbers. The kind you find in test tubes and on chalkboards.

Whenever I feel anxious or I’m facing off against a lesser apocalypse, I start to recite a little mantra that’s been in my head. “Parts per million…Parts per billion.”

Your Anxiety In One Million Doses

After a tough day or when I’m dealing with anxiety, “parts per million” is my obsessive way of acknowledging that down the road, whatever may be wrong now will likely only be a minor blip. It may even be forgotten in a few months or perhaps years. A drop of algae in a clear pond.

I whisper this intonation in my adorable, neurotic way and for some reason my anxiety lowers for a bit. I don’t know why, but maybe it’s science.

The Science of Releasing Anxious Thoughts

This idea resonates with me when I consider how parts per million is used in scientific endeavors. In science talk, “parts per notation” is used in the measure of a contaminate per unit volume of water. It’s a method to mark the number of pollutants in a river or the concentration of a mineral in well water.

Clear stream.

In simpler terms, envision a minuscule amount of poison released into a creek and then think about how you’d measure it as it disperses into the rest of the water all the way down.

Imagine the interaction of each molecule of the poison as it flows ever onward. Each molecule detaching from the original cloud of contaminate and sent down at different speeds and flushing into different pools. 

Pitcher of water.
Make Lemonade

Like a single granule of Kool-Aid in a pitcher. It still floats around in there, only we may not be able to detect it. Parts per million describes these tiny amounts. It’s nonsense for most of us, but it’s a way to visualize the poisons that enter our lives and how they can be watered down and weakened over time.

Parts Per Million in Your Days and Nights

Red dye into water.

Think of the stress or mental trauma you suffer as a pollutant. The bad is released into the flowing waters of your life, like red food coloring into a clear river.

Your moments of trauma simply join the stream that flows into the river of everyday events. In turn those stressors eventually release into the ocean of experiences that are our lives.

Parts Per Million…Parts Per Billion.

“A bit of poison released into your ecosystem, but your soul absorbs, dilutes it into something bearable, and moves forwards.”

It’s not a great way to care for a planet. But it’s a coping mechanism I’ve turned to, enabling me to absorb the storms of life and avoid being capsized. 

The idea is to prevent yourself from getting overwhelmed in the present. It may also keep you from stressing about the effects of your current trauma on your future mental state in the weeks and months to come. It’s all flows downstream from your current point in time to merge with other experiences.

Time Dilutes All Wounds

They say time heals all wounds, and in some ways this is true. It’s not that the wound is ever erased, but the stream of life continues. 

Complex clock.
The sources of pain get further and further upstream and further back in time.

The noise of that past damage is eventually reduced by other life events, some good, some bad. Some joyous, some disheartening, and some both. 

It’s just how life works. The less we fight the notion that we can avoid all pain in life and instead, confront problems and move on from them, the sooner the cap is put on that vial of red food coloring. 

Of course, some troubles and heartaches are out of your control, and that’s okay too.

Parts per million…Parts per billion.

Your mind will do what it has to survive. Just make sure you are ever vigilant for ways to cut off streams of polluted waters from merging with your own when possible.  And always remain open to new streams of unpolluted water ready to join your stream. 

Allow love and goodness to wash over your banks and eventually we’ll all achieve “parts per trillion.” The hard times life brings will have that much less impact on our physical and mental wellbeings.

Parts Per Million: Use as Necessary

Drop of water into pool.

No matter how bad your view is, remember, they’ll never stop making numbers.

However far you need to go to dilute your pain or worry, life will work to accommodate healing. There’s a number out there for it.

If this mantra doesn’t seem to bring relief, your circumstances may call for something stronger. 

Give parts per quadrillion a try…





For another method for bringing down your stress levels while you’re in bed, trying to sleep, but instead, worrying about the world, click here.

Published by scottsentell20

Lifelong writer and coffee shop journaling champion. Content creator. Deep-Thought Diver. Hikes with dogs to learn their secrets to life. Likes the silence found on mountaintops and the peace that collects along the banks of small streams. I read old sci-fi novels to understand current events. Scott has roots in Alaska, Spokane, and North Carolina.

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