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A community where members gather to share their insights and tips on how to manage stress.

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We are so used to thinking of stress only in a negative context: words such as “overwhelmed,” “stressed out,” or “anxious” come to mind. However, stress is neither inherently good nor inherently bad. In fact, it is how you deal with stress that determines whether it is positive or negative.

The fact is, if you are alive, you will experience stress. If you leave your house in the morning, have a job, nurture meaningful relationships, aspire to be creative, or have a family, you will inevitably go through stressful periods. Yet most would acknowledge that these elements of life are worth the stress.

Here are a few ways that stress can be a positive thing in your life:

1. It propels you to get practical things accomplished.
You wake up with a nagging feeling that you have not done the dishes for a few days. This thought is stressful, but it galvanizes you into washing the dishes and clearing out your kitchen. When you are finished, the cleanliness and organization of your kitchen gives you a sense of accomplishment and calm. Whichever way you look at it, stress was involved in a positive outcome.

2. It can help clear your head.
You did not get much sleep last night, but you have a huge and important presentation this morning. It is stressful, and you can feel the adrenaline. The adrenaline (part of the stress response) gives you a clear head to focus and speak in public for an extended period of time. If you had been 100% relaxed, you may not have performed as well.

(Granted, if you are unprepared for a presentation, or if you have a specific phobia of public speaking, this might cause additional stress and create foggy thinking. Remember that the key is keeping stress from getting too overwhelming and inhibiting your performance.)

3. It protects you (literally!)
From a biological standpoint, we are programmed to remove ourselves from life-threatening situations (ie. fight-or-flight response). Imagine walk out into a busy street into oncoming traffic; stress should induce you to move out of harm’s way.

In a less life-threatening context, negative feelings (or stress) sometimes inform you that a change should be made. For example, if you are unhappy with your living situation, stress may motivate you to look for new roommates when the opportunity arrives.

4. It gives you energy.
Imagine if an athlete felt no stress before a big game; he or she probably would not perform as well (you can see this when an excellent team loses against a team with a poor track record; they thought that the win was a given and therefore did not feel enough healthy “stress”).

It is important to be as positive as you can when you get stressed to utilize the energy it affords. If you are stressed for a first date or a job interview, remember that it is a good thing. You have the opportunity to meet a new love interest, or to potentially find a new job. Try to use the stress to your advantage not by disregarding it, but by having a positive attitude.

5. It makes you more creative.
Any artist will tell you that he or she thrives on a certain amount of stress (often referred to as artistic tension). And creativity does not just pertain to painting or writing fiction. For example, creativity is involved when you are trying to find a new solution to a problem. Use the energy that comes from stress and tension as an opportunity to fuel your creativity.

Posted by JMichelle

JMichelle

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on Wednesday, 11 January 2012

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We know that when we are stressed, the sympathetic nervous system is activated in a “flight-or-flight” response. But what happens when this response is activated day after day, even when there is no imminent danger? This is called chronic stress, the type that is linked to heart disease, impaired immune system, and even cancer. Here are a few easy (and even fun!) things you can do this week to make yourself more resilient to stress.

Laugh more!

Laughter is seriously the best medicine. If you find yourself taking everything – or yourself – too seriously, think about something that made you laugh recently. Rent a funny movie to watch with your friends of family and surround yourself with humorous people. Watch funny YouTube videos on your lunch break. It will make a huge difference.

Move More!

Okay, so your New Year’s Resolution to go to the gym is not working out. Do not worry about that for now. Simply try to move more throughout the day: take the stairs instead of the escalator, get up from your desk to walk to the water cooler every fifteen minutes, park in the back of the parking lot when you go to the grocery store. Do anything to avoid being sedentary!

Take a Vitamin D Supplement.

If you live in an area that does not get much sunlight, or if you work indoors, it is likely that you are not getting enough Vitamin D. Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to mood disorders, sleep disorders, anxiety and depression, and cognitive impairment. If you have the opportunity, spend 15 minutes a day in the sun, and if not, take a Vitamin D supplement. It will likely increase your energy.

Sleep More!

Decide that you are going to go to bed just a half hour earlier this week. Make it a priority. A half hour is not much of a difference, but it may just give you the extra rest you need to feel calmer and less stressed during the day.

Eat as Few Processed Foods as Possible!

An excess of processed foods and refined carbohydrates wreak havoc on your body. The occasional treat is okay, but too much sugar or refined carbohydrates (such as anything make with white flour) cause your body to produce high levels of insulin, leading to skyrocketing blood sugar levels, moodiness, extreme fatigue, and inability to think straight. Sugar also elevates levels of cortisol in your body, mimicking the stress response.

For those of you who have had success with these tips, please share!

Posted by JMichelle

JMichelle

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on Monday, 09 January 2012

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It is January 6th, and some of us may already be discouraged, having already “broken” our New Year’s Resolutions. We have the best of intentions: exercise 3 times a week, eat healthier, get your finances in order, spend more time with your spouse.

Posted by JMichelle

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on Friday, 06 January 2012

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A few days ago, I posted about New Year’s Resolution and cultivating gratitude. I am happy to report that I have been writing in my ‘Gratitude Journal’ for the past four days. Each day I start by thanking God for at least ten things in the morning and ten new things in the evening. Here was my morning list yesterday, January 1st:

Posted by JMichelle

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on Monday, 02 January 2012

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With the approach of the New Year, we are bombarded with marketing that tells us to act on our New Year’s Resolutions. Commercials for Jenny Craig or Weight Watchers seem to triple in frequency, and many flock to the gym to renew their memberships, resolving to exercise more regularly (and perhaps work off those extra Christmas cookies).

Posted by JMichelle

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on Friday, 30 December 2011

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Many of you may be more sensitive to light than you realize, and your mood, sleep patterns and stress levels may reflect it. If you find yourself feeling fatigued, stressed, or constantly craving simple carbohydrates (like pastries or cinnamon rolls), and these symptoms tend to come out at the onset of autumn and throughout the winter, you may suffer from some degree of Seasonal Affective Disorder.

Posted by JMichelle

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on Wednesday, 21 December 2011

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Over the past week I have been reading a book by Michael Gelb called “How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci.” While I believe that the title is a bit misleading, I do think that there are several principles to be found in this book that are very helpful for dealing with stress and anxiety.

Posted by JMichelle

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on Tuesday, 20 December 2011

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On Monday night, I went to my first ballet class in months. I was so relaxed afterwards, and I wondered whether it was the exercise or the stretching that made me feel so calm. It was probably a combination of both! I began researching the effects of posture, poise and stretching on stress management, and it turns out that there are a lot of correlations. Here are a few reasons that incorporating stretching into your fitness routine — or just taking a five minute stretch break at the office – can work wonders.

Posted by JMichelle

JMichelle

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on Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Exercise Tips

 

Stretching may be relaxing, but you may be wondering what posture has to do with stress management. Well, it turns out that it has more to do with stress relief than you might think.

Posted by JMichelle

JMichelle

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on Tuesday, 20 December 2011

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As I mentioned in my Thanksgiving post, I do not exercise enough. In fact, I have rarely exercised at all over the last few months. Knowing the benefits of exercise has been key to motivating me to do something.

Posted by JMichelle

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on Monday, 19 December 2011

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One of the most stressful aspects of the holiday season can be the task of shopping. It can be overwhelming when you look at your list and think of the many family members, friends and colleagues you need to buy for. In order to make it less stressful, here are a few strategies and holiday spending tips to help you streamline your Christmas shopping:

 

Posted by JMichelle

JMichelle

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on Monday, 12 December 2011

Holiday Stress

 

I am someone who is particularly prone to the negative side effects of stress. I have experienced a range of symptoms, from hair loss to general anxiety. With the end of Thanksgiving and the approach of Christmas and New Year’s, I am determined to manage my stress levels more effectively and enjoy the holiday season more fully. I have pinpointed five areas that need improvement:

Posted by JMichelle

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on Monday, 12 December 2011

Holiday Stress

If, in the beginning, your job seems perfect, the solution to all your problems, you have high hopes and expectations, and would rather work than do anything else, be wary. You’re a candidate for the most insidious and tragic kind of job stress– burnout, a state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion caused by unrealistically high aspirations and illusory or impossible goals.

The potential for burnout increases dramatically depending upon who you are, where you work, and what your job is. If you’re a hard worker who gives one hundred and ten percent, an idealistic, self-motivated achiever who thinks

Posted by LMiller

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on Saturday, 19 November 2011

Work Stress

Lately I’ve been feeling pretty calm in the face of difficult situations for me- I was late to several important meetings, meeting someone new in a completely new place for me, standing up to the ex-husband, looking at my dwindling finances.

These are not new things that place stress on me, just ones that have been recurring. I’ve learned how to put them in their mental place; they are no longer things that stop me in my tracks, nor send me running and hiding. I can look at them for what they are, stepping stones  to what I want. Some hurdles are bigger than others, some take longer to get around or over, but I know now that I WILL get past them.

Posted by bakebunny

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on Saturday, 30 April 2011

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I have a therapist that I see once a month, and I can’t say enough about having someone who is ‘outside my loop’ that will listen to my fears, concerns and plans and can see them objectively without the emotions I’ve attached to them.

It seems that when I get a bump in life, it’s not a small one. Bad news comes in threes for some… comes in fives for me. Having someone help pick apart what is actually in my influence and what (if anything) I can do about it, or just listen to me and make sure I’m not over-reaching myself has been a blessing.

Posted by bakebunny

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on Friday, 08 April 2011

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I love to-do lists. I use them almost daily. I have bought special ones that break my to-do’s into sections: tasks, errands, correspondence and notes. This sheet is getting to be to full and nothing seems to be moving on. I have each section almost filled and these are things that should have been done weeks ago.

I have a new job that I started in November. It is my first, full-time position. Prior to this, I was working 3-4 days a week so I had a lot of time to get other things done. I also go to school 2 nights a week for 5 hours each, on those days, I can’t get anything done besides work and school. I am also dealing with my partner getting a new, second, job so that we can afford to move out into our first apartment. So it has almost become my responsibility to apartment hunt on our not-so-fabulous budget. I am also in charge of grocery shopping for the two of us since now she is working a 65-70 hour work week, any time that is left over does not want to be spent at a grocery store. And then there is all the stuff that goes along with being a college student: meeting with advisors, planning for future courses, homework and attending the classes. On top of all this, I am also desperately trying to find a summer job because I am working at a school right now and don’t have employment over the summer and obviously, if we move out by then, I will need a job. I am also planning a surprise birthday party and organizing a gift for our school secretary, which both take a lot of time and planning and shopping. I feel as though there is no time left for anything else, I never exercise because I can’t find the time and my eating habits have gotten so bad over the  past few years that I am the heaviest I have ever been. 

Posted by mklauragio

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on Saturday, 02 April 2011

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Searching in a pile of papers for a label for a box due to go out, discovering a piece of paper that should get mailed and realizing I need to find another piece of paper that gets sent with it or the first is worthless, searching for the overdue library books…

My house is cluttered, and it stresses me out. The stuff I mentioned above happens all too often. It doesn’t help that my younger son is an avid reader and will have three books he’s trying to read at any one time, and my older boy is an ‘artist’ strewing papers filled with his drawings over every surface and none can be thrown out or filed without a meltdown of some sort.

I’m working at reducing the messes – I’ve got a ‘sort-of’ system that I use for papers. Once a week I pick up all the papers in a room and sort them between whose they are, if it’s to be recycled, filed, or put aside for the boys. Nearly all the library books occupy the coffee table so I can get my hands on them.

But still papers get lost or misplaced. Since I’m the only one that cleans up the papers I know what’s been thrown out, but still it means I have to sort through piles.

I’ve borrowed a couple of books from the library on Organization and Clutter, and have found some good ones: Does This Clutter Make My Butt Look Fat? and ADD-Friendly Ways to Organize Your Life.  At this point I’m reducing surfaces that the clutter can reside, and trying to limit what comes in so I can limit what could potentially get lost.

It helps but I have a long way to go.  Now to find that label so I can ship out some of that clutter to someone who wants it…

Posted by bakebunny

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on Monday, 28 March 2011

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I’m willing to bet that all children at some point before they reached the age of 13 thought to themselves, “It will be great once I get out of school, because then I will never have to do homework again.”

As you grow older and you realize that different professions require different types of what might as well be considered homework, there is one undeniable truth.  Every American, or at least honest, hard-working ones, have one type of homework assignment that brings pain to many every year.  If you don’t know the homework assignment I’m talking about, you will when I tell you that the assignment is due April 15th.

Yes, it’s tax season again.  Just when you thought spring was in the air and nothing could go wrong with the snow melting, you have to get out your W-2’s and 1190’s, and sit down for a few hours to find out how much you owe Uncle Sam.

Even if you don’t owe the IRS anything, doing taxes is something many people do just to get it out of the way.  In fact, tax forms are due exactly three weeks from the date this blog is being written (sorry for the reminder).

I was fortunate to get my taxes done and out of the way yesterday.  Part of me feels relieved, but another part of me is aching.  That latter part, by the way, is my bank account.

Last year, I took multiple jobs, many of which were temporary, so I had a lot of 1190’s to let Mr. Tax Man know about.  Using TurboTax, I watched as some of my 1190’s translated into tax refunds, represented by green numbers.  Green is a nice color for numbers, because it reminds you of money.

Unfortunately, I also had some 1190-MISC’s, where no taxes were taken from my payroll.  When I entered those into TurboTax, I watched in agony as those pleasant green numbers plummeted and became large, intimidating red numbers.  Green reminds you of money, but red reminds you of debt!

Yes, there were a couple hundred dollars I did not have that I owed the IRS.  I could have swept those forms under the rug and pretended I didn’t receive them, but I’m too honest to do that.  Plus, I try to assume that some white lies you tell the government find their way back to you when you least expect it.  So to keep my karma healthy, I submit all my forms.

When you do your taxes using a computer system like TurboTax, seeing your earnings go from positive to plunging into debt hell is quite demoralizing.  Depending on how much you actually owe the IRS, it can be stressful too.  I don’t have a lot of money at this point in my life, so a couple hundred dollars means a lot to me.

But when my earnings turned red, here’s what I did.  I took a deep breath, and continued on with my paperwork.  I was eventually able to factor in how much I paid for my student loans.  Once I factored in how much I paid in interest on those loans in 2010, I saw the red number dwindle.  They didn’t turn green again, but at least I was obligated to pay less than before.

I was also able to put items that I bought for some of my ventures as a tax deduction.  In this case, I bought a smart phone from Verizon before the year ended, and was able to (honestly) say that I bought it for one of my business ventures.  The amount I owed went down again.

As a man in my late 20’s who did not graduate from college with a degree in economics or accounting, I don’t know as much as I wish I did about taxes.  In fact, if there was a class in college, or even in high school, on how to do your taxes, I would have taken it, or at least it would have been a good idea to take it.

Still, the best way to cope with taxes is to learn as much as you can about them.  Itemized deductions are probably the most fun thing to learn about.  Of course, taxes are one of life’s tricky things you can learn about by doing taxes yourself.

It was a difficult transition for me doing my own taxes, instead of having my parents do them for me.  However, considering I got through this year having not screamed at my computer once, I would say that doing my own taxes has been good for me.

So yes, taxes are stressful, but the first step to easing that stress is to keep the following idea in mind:  taxes are good for the country.  As much as you have to swallow your pride and cough up money from time to time, taxes provide money for so many things, many of which are necessary for society.  I don’t have to name all the government services made possible through taxes.  You can look them up for yourselves.

Sure, there are many people who don’t pay their taxes, and there are political bigwigs in Washington who may not use your tax paying money the way they should.  Those crooked politicians usually get their dues, including being voted out of office when caught.  It doesn’t always happen, but the American people know when they are being duped, and are most likely willing and able to speak out about it.  That’s another story, though.

Don’t let stories of corrupt politicians or gangsters without a social security number be excuses for you not to pay your taxes.  The IRS won’t care.  They didn’t take kindly to “Survivor” winner Richard Hatch not reporting his million dollar win, and they probably won’t take kindly to you either.

As much as it is a pain in the ass, it is best to do your taxes, and prevent a lot of financial pain for you and your family in the long run.  With that said, how do you do your taxes without losing your mind?

Well, I haven’t quite figured that one out yet.  For starters, don’t wait until April 15th to do them.  Last-minute filers sometimes make the 6:00 news, and look a bit foolish waiting in line for the post office with other procrastinators like them.  Waiting until the last day to file those taxes will make you stressed out guaranteed.

My suggestion is to do your taxes no earlier than February 15th and no later than April 10th.  By the February date I’ve chosen, Valentines Day is done and over with, thereby getting all of the major holidays out of the way.  Plus, but that time, you will have, or should have, received all of your tax forms.

More to the point, though, gettings them out of the way in late February or March will give you peace of mind.  There’s no rushing, and you may have details in your tax forms that may require more time than you initially thought.

So yes, taxes suck, and they are stressful.  They are also necessary, which is why avoiding taxes solely to avoid stress will be disastrous in the long run.  However, like other forms of stress you can’t avoid, it is how you deal with such stress factors that determines your peace of mind.  Be focused, be prompt, be honest, be prepared, be flexible, and you will beat the stress that comes from your taxes.

Posted by dj

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on Friday, 25 March 2011

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Does anyone else out there tend to over-book themselves?

I do it constantly.  Problem is, it’s not always with work-related tasks.  I over-book social commitments as well.  For example, a month ago, I told a friend who was coming in from out-of-town that I’d go to dinner with her two of the nights she’s home (this weekend only).  This week, I was too busy at work to have quality time with another friend and pushed him off until this coming weekend.  Next week isn’t looking any better for work-related stress and time suck, so now I either have to cancel on one of my dinner dates with the out-of town friend or give up having one weekend day where I have no commitments.

Posted by bostonsox81

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on Friday, 25 March 2011

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With graduation looming in the back of my head, I am preparing myself for the next chapter of my life. I plan to attend graduate school and earn my Master’s degree in Communication. As excited as I am, I am also apprehensive for the lifestyle change to come. I know that graduate school is not similar to undergraduate school and my way of schooling is about to change.

The first hurdle I will be faced with is moving to another state to attend graduate school. I was able to find an assistantship, which allows me to attend the school for free as long as I work for the school in some manner. I have to prepare myself to live in a state foreign to me as well as adjust to the new curriculum of graduate school.

Posted by mklauragio

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on Wednesday, 23 March 2011

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This can be counted as Part II of my “Road Rage” blogs, even though I had no intention of following up my previous blog entry “Traffic Jam When You’re Already Late”.  Of course, though, I ran into the angry typical Massachusetts driver I spoke about in the aforementioned article.

I wasn’t even in Boston when this happened.  I was actually in Dayton going into Swampscott in my car.  I was veering off the highway on one of those semi-circular roads that leads to the straight, main road.  Because there is a lot of traffic on the road which I am about to turn on to, I yielded until I had enough time between cars to continue my journey.

Yielding in those kind of traffic situations is difficult enough.  What made it worse was that the asshole driver behind me beeped his horn at me not once, not twice, but three times.  He beeped when I was slowing down, beeped when I inched my way forward and stopped again, and beeped when I wasn’t moving fast enough.  The traffic situation in front of me obviously wasn’t as important as the traffic situation in front of him.

Behind the wheel, I actually said out loud, “I can’t move.  There’s nothing I can do right now.”  A moment later, I realized there was no need to say that because the driver behind me couldn’t hear me.

That’s really what we forget when drivers misuse their car horns and legally disturb the peace: they can’t hear us.  Not only is the peace of the community surrounding your vehicles destroyed, but so is your peace of mind, depending on what kind of mood you’re in to begin with.  Regardless, getting that unnecessary honk from an irate driver usually clouds your judgement, not that you’re to blame.

Car horns, by nature, were invented and put in cars for the purpose of letting a fellow driver who may not be able to see you know that you’re there.  Sometimes the horns are used with good intentions, such as when a driver doesn’t go on a green light.  She may be looking down to change the radio station or pick something she dropped on the ground.  A polite ‘beep’ let’s her know that she should start driving again soon.

However, especially in large cities like Boston, car horns are rarely used for good.  They are the rabid call of an impatient roadster.  There’s nothing you can do to stop people like them, but there is something you can do to not let it get to you.

In Richard Carlson’s book “Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff . . . And It’s All Small Stuff”, there’s a chapter about dealing with unpleasant situations that give you a better piece of mind.  The way to do it is to step back and ask yourself, “Will this matter a year from now?”  It is amazing how much better you feel after asking yourself this question.

For most of the aggravating and trying periods of our lives, the answer to that question is “no”.  Drivers who are too trigger happy with their horns don’t matter after five minutes tops, unless of course you crash into them.

We all make mistakes as drivers, even if we have never been in an accident in our lives.  It’s important to remember that there are no perfect drivers, and to continue being the best driver that you can be.

In fact, when you scream obscenities at the top of your lungs to whomever beeps at you, or even flip them the middle finger, not only is it both useless and bad for your well being, but you are probably making yourself more distracted.  Such actions could put your vehicle and yourself in more danger if you think about it.

Plus, even if this driver could see or hear you when they get you angry, screaming and making obscene gestures doesn’t solve anything.  In fact, they’re referred to as “them fightin’ words” for a reason.  The person to whom you are directing such unwelcome language may want to fight you.

It seems ridiculous at first, but it’s amazing how many small misunderstandings gradually grow into disastrous, and sometimes fatal, consequences.  I’m sure somewhere in the world, a car horn indirectly caused someone to be killed because someone else wasn’t thinking clearly.  And it’s just a beep!  A sound effect!

So while some jerks on the road are all to eager to join the traffic jam chorus, you don’t have to be one of them.  Let it go immediately after it happens, and continue to drive safely.  Plus, treat other drivers the way you want to be treated.  If you don’t like people beeping their horn at you, do it as little as possible to others.  Using your car horn the right way may not change the world, but it will make you a happier driver.

Posted by dj

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on Wednesday, 23 March 2011

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My career revolves around technology.

I am a video editor and as such, I work on a computer no less than 9 hours per day.  Gone are the days of tape to tape editing so every little thing about post-production, from start to finish, is done in the box.  When the box decides it’s going to revolt, my work life grinds to a halt.

Posted by bostonsox81

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on Wednesday, 23 March 2011

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Ever notice that as soon as you’ve paid off some bills and might actually be able to start saving a few pennies that other things begin to fall apart?  

I’m pretty sure my car can sense when I’m starting to get my financial footing.  I was finally able to put away a few hundred bucks last month and wouldn’t you know, my dear car just left the mechanic with a bill nearly EXACTLY what I had put away?!  So, now we’re back at square one.  

Posted by bostonsox81

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on Tuesday, 22 March 2011

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Living in Boston, one of the biggest causes of stress, provided you have a car, is traffic.  If you don’t have a car, it’s still a big issue for you.  Boston has some of the worst traffic in the world, and probably some of the worst drivers.

This is coming from someone who comes from Maine.  Obviously since there are less people in Maine, traffic is never a problem unless maybe there’s road construction going on.  However, for the most part, if you live in Maine, and your destination is 20 miles away, that is equivalent to a 20 minute drive.  In Boston, to reach a destination that is 20 miles away requires you to plan your day around that one trip regardless of your method of transportation.

Since it’s 2011, most people have probably already seen Back To The Future Part II, where Doc, Marty, and Marty’s girlfriend Jennifer travel into the future to the year 2015 to save Marty’s future.  Back in 1989 when that movie was released, 2015 was so far away that many of us counted on there being video games you didn’t need a controller to play, waiters that were on computers, and perhaps most importantly, cars that can actually fly.

While YouTube has videos of cars that do fly (type in “flying car”, and you will be amazed at what they have invented), those cars are prototype.  They also don’t look as cool as they did in the movie.  Perhaps most importantly, they also have wings, and need a full runway in which to take off, just like any other airplane.  There are no efficient rocket boosters that launch you immediately into the air just yet.  Even if there were, how much would that cost in gas.

So while we are waiting for the Information Superhighway to live up to the standards of one of the best movie sequels of all time, there are ways to avoid traffic jams.

Don’t drive.  Even if you have a car, leave it at home and take public transportation.  When I first moved to Boston two years ago, the commuter rails and the subways seemed to be a dream come true.  Then I discovered the Green Line, but that’s another story.  I was willing to take the Green Line over paying $4.25 a gallon for gasoline any day.

Gasoline is now roughly $3.40 as of the date of this blog.  It’s not terrible, but it’s bound to go up come summer.  Therefore, embracing public transportation saves you money, shows those ExxonMobil bastards you’re not going to take their gas hikes, and even reduces your carbon footprints.

But if you absolutely must drive, make a conscious effort to avoid rush hour.  Doing this will require you to really know the traffic situation on a daily basis.  Avoiding driving to work at 9 A.M. or from work between 5-6:30 P.M. is a good start.

Another good tip, found mainly through experience, is to really know what streets to avoid.  When I want to drive to Commonwealth Avenue from Jamaica Way, my back up plan involves a winding street through Brookline that is a good alternative to inching my way through Brookline Avenue.  I have yet to find a street that has worse traffic on a daily basis.

But if you do find that you have no choice but to hit the really bad traffic, the worst thing you can do is beep your horn and scream at the top of your lungs for traffic to start moving.  Doing this, like the song Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen) says, is about as useful as chewing bubblegum to solve an Algebra problem.  On the other hand, you’re less likely to blow out your vocal chords or get an ulcer from Juicy Fruit.

Just like bad days, bad traffic comes and goes, and everyone has their days.  If you’re late, apologize.  If you’re just feeling miserable, turn off the news (it’s usually bad anyway) and turn on your favorite music.  Virtually any type of music (except maybe death metal) will make traffic far more manageable, and (you never know) may actually add years to your life.

Posted by dj

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on Tuesday, 22 March 2011

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For those of you living in the Boston area, I highly recommend The Inman Oasis in Cambridge for all of your relaxation needs.  They have massage therapy as well as wonderful hot tubs you can soak in while listening to soothing music.  Also, they frequently have deals with Groupon so you can get a day of pampering without breaking the bank!

 

Posted by bostonsox81

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on Monday, 21 March 2011

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My ex husband woke me this morning with a phone call.

He’s stationed at an airbase in south Japan. He wanted to let me and the boys know that he was okay and that he’d be there for the duration of his assignment (about 1 1/2 more years). I was glad to hear that he was okay because we hadn’t heard from him since the day after the first quake. He’s distributing aid to people near one of the affected reactors.

In a 10 minute call he couldn’t keep from making a few digs at me: telling me that his current wife refuses to leave so she can stay and take care of him, and informing me that I may not recieve the child support if military pay is disrupted because of an unsigned Defense bill. 

I am concerned for his health, and the effect of what happens reflecting on how he deals (or not) with his kids. I’m tired of him punishing me for doing what I needed to do in order to leave. I’m tired of making excuses to our children for why he reacts like a child when something doesn’t go his way. And I’m sick of him holding money over my head as a symbol of the power he had, and still has, over my life.

Posted by bakebunny

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on Saturday, 19 March 2011

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Again, today, I am dealing with outright discrimination.  Usually it is more subtle, masked and harder to spot.  But sometimes it just comes right out and stares me in the face, completely undeniable.  Which is actually helpful, and preferable, because they I can name it, and try not to internalize something I am not responsible for.

Life is challenging for everyone.  Why do some choose to make it even harder for others, simply because of one characteristic?  Why is it so common for us, as a society, to marginalize minority groups?  We are all just trying to get by, take care of ourselves and our families, make the world a better place, and live our own lives.  Why do so many insist on making that harder?

Posted by melissaqm

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on Thursday, 17 March 2011

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At first I didn’t get the difference but once I thought about it for a second it was so clear to me.  Taking a time management class this concept was so important.  In our society we always feel like we have to be doing; rushing to work, being “productive”, doing three things at once.  Even while we sit down to relax and watch tv we are typing on the computer and checking email.  But how many times do we just “be”.  Just sitting, not doing ANYTHING. No facebook, no tv, no knitting, no crossword.  The concept seems ideal yet kind of strange.  “I can’t just sit I need to be doing something”.  But we don’t always have to be doing something.  If we take time to just be once and a while, it can open up so many experiences for us.  Noticing the birds outside, making yourself more available for people in your home to want to be near you, and just to relax and not have to do.  Just understanding the difference can help. We all have to “do” all the time. Thats life.  But when we realize the difference and how beneficial it can be for taking care of ourselves it helps make doing a little more bearable.  

Posted by stellbell3

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on Thursday, 17 March 2011

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In highschool, I prided myself on being able to do my homework on the computer, while chatting on IM with no less than 5 friends as Late Night with Conan O’Brien or some other late show played on the tv in the background.

Today, at work, I’ll typically have at least 10 windows open.  A video editing program, Photoshop, work email, personal email, Facebook, cnn.com, and assorted other programs related to my field.  Meanwhile iChat is chiming away, my next door neighbor is blasting Pandora, someone is getting paged over the intercom, and my cell phone is buzzing with the latest incoming text or voicemail.

Posted by bostonsox81

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on Wednesday, 16 March 2011

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On the site today I found the Daily Stress Relief Tip: Prioritization is the first step of stress management.  This speaks directly to my biggest struggles of late.  Figuring out where to focus my energy and what to let go of is an essential piece to my personal stress management.

Daily I face responsibilities related to school, work, my internship, personal care, relationships, family and housekeeping.  I cannot do everything asked of me at all times.  I have to care for myself by prioritizing my responsibilities and balancing my own needs and interests with those of others.  This includes defining my own expectations and letting go of others’. 

Posted by melissaqm

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on Tuesday, 15 March 2011

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Schedules and routines: love ’em or hate ’em?

As a child of a family of seven kids, I grew up with schedules and routines. They helped to streamline the ordinaries of daily living: who was supposed to be setting the table which night, when each child was supposed to be brushing their teeth, who’s turn it was to get to sit at a window seat in the car.

As an adult with ADD, and two kids on the Autism Spectrum, I have gone back to schedules and routines. I find them to be soothing on the one hand as I know what comes next, have an expectation about what needs to be done and when (and by who), and can easily return to ‘normal’ when something out of the ordinary happens.

Don’t get me wrong, though. I don’t have a highly detailed schedule! It’s not always “9:35 Drink tea, 9:45 Put cup in sink…” It’s more like “Get kids to school, plan day, clean kitchen, do driving chores….” but I do things in certain sequences trying to make the transitions logical.

And I do have spontaneity, too. When my autistic son was born and I learned he thrived on routines I built in “spontaneity hour”. Every day at the same time… we’d do something different. It sounds so odd when I say it, but every therapist we’ve worked with has exclaimed what a wonderful idea it is; to bring new things and experiences to a child that otherwise might refuse them.

The downside I have found is that when something out of the ordinary does happen, I feel totally lost. The expectations I had, the plans that are tried and true can’t be carried out, all gone until the circumstances change and things settle back to an equilibrium.

Schedules and routines: love ’em or hate ’em?

Posted by bakebunny

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I have been passionate about offering an alternative to traditional psychology since 1975 when I became aware of the power imbalance between physicians and patients and between psychotherapists and clients. Too many times, the doctor had an opinion and told the patient what was wrong. Sometimes the doctor was correct and sometimes not. 

I wanted to offer services that worked with the individual to focus on the person’s strengths, what could be done, what actions might bring optimum results, and how to get support for growth, instead of focusing on what was wrong. 

Posted by Alma Dell

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on Monday, 14 March 2011

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Late on Saturday, my grandmother fell and broke her hip.  She is old, frail and in poor health.  At 91, she has had an amazing life. 

She is not healthy enough for surgery.  But at the same time, she must have surgery in order to relieve the pain and to ever be able to move.  There is a good chance she may not pull through as she was already in such poor health before the fall.

Posted by melissaqm

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on Monday, 14 March 2011

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While there never seems to be enough time to get to everything, I really appreciate days, such as today, when I feel that I am able to find a bit of a balance.  Today included a slow, easy, restful morning followed by a short spurt of cleaning.  Then I made it to the farmers’ market by 1pm and afterward met up with a classmate for a study date.  Though I get less done when I study with others, it was nice to be semi-productive and semi-social.  I came home and had a little down time before heading out for dinner and a walk around the city with a good friend visiting from out of town.

I was not able to cross much off my to-do list and I anticpate tomorrow being a bit crammed with homework, but it was well worth it.  Finding a balance makes a huge difference in my overall stress level.  Tonight I feel rested and also nourished from a good meal, a walk and time with a good friend.  My house is less of a disaster from my quick clean and I was able to make a small dent in my school work.  I don’t think I could ask for much more than that!

Posted by melissaqm

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on Saturday, 12 March 2011

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After recovering from a bad stomach bug, I am finally feeling like a human again.  Now I need to get myself back on track!  I had been working so hard to eat better, exercise more and stay on top of my responsibilities, all in an effort to stay healthy and lower my overall stress level.  But of course, being sick threw all of that off. 

So now I need to focus on getting back into the habits I had been establishing.  First I need to spend a lot of time this weekend catching up on work and continuing to take time to give my body extra rest.  Then in the next few days I need to get back into my exercise routine.  Finally, I need to move back into more healthy eating habits.  It’s amazing how hard it is to eat healthy when sick!  I have been eating simple carbs because they are easier to digest, no fruits or veggies, no dairy and very little protein overall.  Now that my stomach is mostly back to normal I am starting to eat healthier again and I can already feel the difference physically.

Posted by melissaqm

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on Friday, 11 March 2011

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Maybe, maybe not… but I wasn’t around for a good portion of this week.

Stress hit me BIG TIME.

My car, which failed inspection in February, had (major) repairs done… and never made ir back to the inspection station because it needed more repairs. I was carless for three days – not fun in the suburbs.

One of my brothers has been traveling in the Arabic areas and when he hasn’t he’s been dealing with a girlfriend’s unplanned pregnancy. One sister just announced she and her husband are moving far South, and another is facing multiple inpatient surgeries (of a female nature).

I’ve got a well-meaning school nurse that has been calling me about my son’s ringworm that has not cleared to her satisfaction, so I need to make another appointment to make up for the one I missed when I was carless.

I’ve discovered I have a leak in the upstairs bathroom right behind the toilet that goes right through to the downstairs ceiling… and discovered this when the library books got wet.

Add in poor sleep, bad eating habits, and some free-floating anxiety…

I cuddled up with some soft yarn and crocheted.

Posted by bakebunny

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Studies have shown that music helps people think better.  In fact, in the early ’90’s, one researcher concluded that if someone listened to Mozart, their I.Q. would increase by 9 points.

It’s also common knowledge that laughter usually reduces stress.  At least I’ve found out the latter fact myself one time when I was a sophomore in high school.

I was taking a biology class, and the science fair was right around the corner.  I had been working on a project for the last two months.  The night before the science fair, I still had a lot of work to do.

It was not as if I had waited until the last minute, but at this point, I had to get my poster presentation ready, my visual aids all set up, and I had to revise my paper on the science project.

Naturally, I was focused, but still stressed out.  My breathing became heavier than normal, my mouth drier, and I could even feel a slight headache coming on.

I was halfway through everything I needed to do that night when my Mom, who was in the adjacent room, called me in.  She had the phone in her hands.

“Mom, I can’t talk to anyone right now!” I said, still feeling the stress of tomorrow’s assignment, “I have so much more to do!”

“Dan, just take a short break and come listen to this,” Mom said calmly, “You really have to hear it.”

Although I didn’t have to walk a long distance, I still felt the pressure of that science project.  Still, I didn’t know who was on the phone, or why Mom wanted me to talk to them, but I was a bit curious.

As I came into the room, Mom put the phone on speaker.  The next thing I heard was these four (maybe five) men singing a song a capella.  They sounded like a combination of a barbershop quartet and the singers who sang the “Davy Crockett” theme song from the ’50’s.  They were harmonious, but burly, and this is what they sang:

Oh, the tobacco plant is a lovely plant, with leaves so broad and green,
But you shouldn’t think about the tobacco plant if you’re still a teen,
‘Cause tobacco is a big person’s plant, and that’s the way it should be,
So if you’re under 21, go a climb a tree!

Oh, the tobacco plant is a lovely plant, and that my friend is no yarn,
We let it ripen in the field, and hang it in a barn.


After these men start humming the same tune, they fade out slightly, followed by a woman’s voice stating, “If you think that really sucked, we agree.  Write a better song about the tobacco plant, and we’ll use it.”

I don’t know whether it was the “go a climb a tree” line, or the otherwise straight-laced woman admitting that the song “really sucked”, but I remember laughing so hard that my previous stressed-out period was a distant memory.  I still had a lot or work that needed to be done, but somehow listening to that song made the remainder of my work far less strenuous.  It was truly the break I needed.

Sadly, I never heard that song again, and could only find it through Google via text only, not sound bite.  The song was actually created by the Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corporation, who created a toll free service number containing that pre-recorded message. 

The phone number they provided, 1-800-578-7453, now belongs to another tobacco company, and that recorded message, as far as I can tell, no longer exists.  In the year 2000, though, when fewer people had access to the Internet as they do now, and there was no YouTube, Facebook, or Twitter, that phone number went viral before the word “viral” described such a brief cultural phenomenon.

Still, I recommend checking out other songs whose purpose is to make you laugh if you ever feel stressed about upcoming projects or deadlines, because they really work.  These songs should be available now on iTunes, or even on YouTube.  Although they may not have a video attached to them, there is a good chance they will make you laugh.  Fortunately, they’re also not annoying, at least not to me.

So if you’re ever in a bad mood, or have a tight deadline and can spare even 3 minutes, listening to these songs may make that break worth while:

1.  Weird Al Yankovic- “Jurassic Park”
2.  Steve Martin- “Grandmother’s Song”
3.  Allan Sherman- “Hello Muddah!  Hello Faddah! (A Letter From Camp)”
4.  Benny Bell- “Shaving Cream”
5.  Monty Python- “The Lumberjack Song”
6.  Tom Lehrer- “The Elements”
7.  Shel Silverstein- “I Saw Polly In A Porni”
8.  Steven Lynch- “Superhero”
9.  Flight of the Conchords- “Too Many Dicks on the Dance Floor”
10.  Brian Posehn- “Metal By Numbers”

You may be able to find more funny songs on your own, but that’s a good list to start you off.  From listening to these songs at least once, they made me laugh.  I can’t guarantee they will have the same effect on you, but if they do, notice how much your stress levels decrease.  You probably won’t need blood tests.  All you need to know is that the headache will disappear, and your worries will become more manageable.

Posted by dj

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on Wednesday, 09 March 2011

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If, in the beginning, your job seems perfect, the solution to all your problems, you have high hopes and expectations, and would rather work than do anything else, be wary. You’re a candidate for the most insidious and tragic kind of job stress– burnout, a state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion caused by unrealistically high aspirations and illusory or impossible goals.

Posted by LMiller

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on Tuesday, 08 March 2011

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Their is something in the air.  The smell of spring just around the corner.  The smell of hope, change, of opportunity for rising above some of the stress.

Things are ever changing, ever moving forward.  Whether we want them to or not.  Life is evolving, and with those changes their is hope for positive change.  Hope for things to fall into place that we’ve been working so hard for.  Hope for the changes we are making in our lives to start to feel like they are having an impact on our daily living and stress levels. 

Posted by melissaqm

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on Monday, 07 March 2011

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Love…….oh we all want it.  Having that person to call your own, to share your thoughts and feelings with.  That person to hug/cuddle/ just be close to.   Someone to write you love notes with cute little hearts on top of the “i” and draw you a bath while you drink wine in the tub. But then the dream ends and you have what we call REALITY (should be an Aretha Franklin song).  The realities of relationships for me lately have been VERY stressful.  After about a year and a half of being in this relationship, the romance, passion and all around excitement has about gone the way of Sheens drug habit (which is supposedly gone).  This being my first “live in lover” relationship I think “So this is it? This is just the way it is gong to be.”  No more “oh you watch whatever you want”, no more “Can I make you some tea?” This shift in our relationship is stressful because I have to come to the realization that this is what happens. Comfort sets in.  I have never had a relationship as serious as this so it is all new to me.  I thought you just snuggled all night on the couch watching chick flicks and then got my back  rubbed and my hair brushed all night.  But in all seriousness, facing “real relationship” stuff can be crazy making!!!

Posted by stellbell3

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on Sunday, 06 March 2011

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I’m sick.  Again.  It seems to be almost constant.  If it’s not a cold (which inevitably turns into bronchitis) it’s a stomach bug.  I don’t think I’ve ever had the “stomach bug” more than once in a year and now I’m on round three in less than three months!  And I’ll go to the doc and let them know, but chances are it’s just my high stress + low immunity that makes me susceptible and I’m just picking up germs. 

I had a lot of things planned for this weekend.  I had homework to get done, housecleaning that is overdue, work for my internship that I need finished up.  And instead I have been unable to do anything.  This is the first time I have had enough energy to even type on a computer.  I don’t have time to be sick, and losing three days is going to make me even more stressed!  I already called out for tomorrow, which is a huge relief, now I know I don’t have to try to push myself to get things prepared since it will likely only set me back if I try before I’m ready.

Posted by melissaqm

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on Sunday, 06 March 2011

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I hate to think of things this way, but there are people out there worse off than me.  Take my cousin, for instance.  She just lost her baby; trying to get pregnant for two years.  She was pregnant for three months and had a miscarriage.  She has been doing in vitro.  She will try again, but I can just imagine the stress that puts one in.  I feel so bad for her.  It’s like what do I have to complain about; right? 

Posted by Dawnmack

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on Saturday, 05 March 2011

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It’s not that my family stresses me out; it’s that I miss them terribly because we live in three different states.  Soooooo I travel quite often since I’m the youngest and have no children.  BUT… none of us is willing to move closer for various reasons.  So how to deal with it.  I guess me visiting them does it, but then it’s so hard to leave from that visit and come home.  Once home, it’s back to the old routine again and everything is back to normal. 

Anyone out there in the same boat as me?  I love Boston, the change of seasons, my job.  I could just about work anywhere, being a court reporter, but I like it here.  I moved here in 1999.  Mom lives in Florida (too hot for me; grew up there) and sister lives in SC (nice, but no thank you). 

Just got back today from SC.  Nieces and nephews and great-nieces and nephews kept me pretty busy and now I miss them; hence, the stress sets in again.

Oh, decisions, decisions, decisions. 

Posted by Dawnmack

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on Friday, 04 March 2011

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I’m just venting but here are some things that stress me out at work at my sales job on the North Shore.

– looping people in
– people asking to be looped in
– people saying “net-net”
– people who talk about food the entire day
– people who go out and get starbucks
– when you have a conversation about 2 simple things and when those have been expressed and agreed to people who insist on spending another 2 minutes “summing up”.
– people asking to get them lunch.
– The fact that I could do all of this at my house, in my pajamas.
– People who say “quick question”
– People who microwave smelly food.
– People sticking around scared to be the first one to leave.

Work can be such a stressful environment. Everyone jockeying for position and trying to look as busy as possible no matter what. Arg it gets on my nerves.

Posted by williammritter

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on Thursday, 03 March 2011

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I’ve found over the last year and a half that I have become a procrastinator.

I wasn’t this way as a kid. I was one of those: “I have homework so I’ll get it out of the way so I can do MY thing.” Even in college I was more likely to finish an assignment within a week of getting it instead of waiting until the deadline and doing an all-nighter. So I wonder where the new tendency came from.

I think part of it is that I’m no longer accountable to someone else for my waking hours. But a larger portion seems to be that I am trying to avoid the stresses that the things I procrastinate bring. Paying bills when I don’t have money,  returning library books that I never had time to read, deep cleaning the house when I can barely keep the kitchen swept, returning phone calls to people that work a paying job to ask them to stop asking for money that I don’t have… the list goes on.

I know I am strong: I survived 17 years of being pretty much alone, and now 3 years of depending on pretty much myself. So why can’t I face these little, relatively inconsequential actions?

Posted by bakebunny

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on Thursday, 03 March 2011

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I have extensively watched Charlie Sheen’s numerous videos and compiled some quotes :

“Clearly I have defeated this earthworm with my words – imagine what I would have done with my fire-breathing fists. “

“Bi-Polar. I’m bi-winning – I win here and I win there.”

I’ve heard that he’s locked himself in his house with two adult actresses.  

He looks gaunt and wild-eyed.

Given his strange behavior I am going to go out on a limb here and say, –  what we have here is a classic case of stress.

He was talking really fast yet looked tired. That’s how I bet I look when I’m stressed out.

I’m really glad I have the internet here to get this stuff off of my chest.

Posted by williammritter

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on Wednesday, 02 March 2011

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Hi,

Bill and Beanpot here.

I’d like to say while I have a true respect for the profession and academic field of Psychology…

I can probably handle it. Do you have big problems in your life?  I could do cut-rate non-therapy in terms of just talking to folks and telling ’em ‘hey, I think you should drop that dude, he’s a jerk’. I can handle that. Throw in a burger and that’s lunch. Boom.

I also don’t like the couch thing or the circle Freud glasses.  If you hire me for cut-rate non-therapy- I suggest we do something else while we talk. Like play darts..or drive somewhere?

I’ll admit – I’ve got some problems of my own. I even wrote my dear Mah one time and said “Mah, This is your only son. I’m flat broke and I don’t have a pot to piss in”

and she mailed me a pot.

What do you think Beanpot? “Arf”

Posted by williammritter

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on Wednesday, 02 March 2011

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So I had never experienced the art of spinning until about one month ago.  Not spinning wool but spinning on a bicycle (I still don’t really get why it is called spinning and not just cycling.)  I figured I would give it a try, hearing that it was a pretty good workout.  And boy it is.  In the past year I have gained about 12 pounds; going from my fittest and lightest self to a semi fit but also close to my heaviest weight.  I was a huge gym addict(three to four times/week) until about July 2010 when life, stress, depression took over and am FINALLY getting back into a fitness routine.  Spinning has been the one thing that has gotten me back into a routine; getting me sweating in a black light lit room listening to loud music bumping nad making me smile.  I am a HUGE believer in endorphins and their ability to increase mood and relieve stress.  SO GLAD I found something that can get me moving again and feeling good!!

Posted by stellbell3

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on Tuesday, 01 March 2011

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Laurent Wolf – No Stress (Official Music Video)

So good. 17 million people can’t be wrong – but this song has been out for 2 years. I heard it on a mix CD that I found in my used car when I purchased it. It’s a Jeep Sahara.

She has an earthy/funky voice. The video looks like Minority Report though and actually gets me really wound up which doesn’t make that much sense.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7HMKImKWLfA

How about “Under Pressure” by Queen/David Bowie feat. Vanilla Ice. Who looks cooler under pressure? Bowie or Freddy Mercury?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a01QQZyl-_I

Whatever you do. Just don’t ‘Le freak….’

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cqupk71a-O0

Posted by williammritter

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on Tuesday, 01 March 2011

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“Stress is nothing more than a socially acceptable form of mental illness” – Richard Carlson

Does anybody think that this quote is true? I think of stress as external.

“If you ask what is the single most important key to longevity, I would have to say it is avoiding worry, stress and tension. And if you didn’t ask me, I’d still have to say it.” – George Burns

Is avoiding stress a matter of having the right defense and deflections mechanisms (i.e. George Burns) or is it about making life choices that always steer one away from situations. George Burns died in 1996 but still makes me laugh. 

 “In times of stress, be bold and valiant.” – Horace

Isn’t this the opposite of ‘cool under pressure’?

“I’ve tried yoga, but I find stress less boring.” – Unattributed

Truth! I find yoga stressful.

Posted by williammritter

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on Tuesday, 01 March 2011

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At this moment I feel that I am on hold.  I have seven weeks left until I finish school and I am so excited to start working in my new field.  But I can’t even start looking for a job until I know where I am going to be living.  And I can’t start looking for a new place until I figure out my financial situation.  Which includes very patiently trying to wait to find out if I need to pay a very large sum of money in the next few months or not, which will greatly impact where I can afford to live. 

But most importantly, I am waiting and waiting to start a family, a process that has turned out to be much harder and longer than I ever imagined.  So I wait.  And I wait more.  I know someday I will be so busy being a mom that I won’t remember how hard this wait is.  The years will feel like seconds.  But right now each day is an eternity. 

Posted by melissaqm

melissaqm

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on Monday, 28 February 2011

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For the last three years, I have been in the process of recovering myself.

I am divorced from a emotionally abusive man, who took away everything I thought I was and controlled most of my life. When I decided I needed to go, it took two years to get to the point that I could take the steps to actually get away.

It wasn’t until I arrived back in Massachusetts that I realized just how much of myself I had lost. I lost possessions, yes, but also I had lost track of what I am. The things I liked, TV shows I watched, clothing, everything had been approved by him, and suddenly I was lost, adrift with no anchor save my kids, who were clinging to me.

I look back now and pick apart the memories, taking out the parts that I remember and enjoy. I try lots of new things, take myself on adventures, there’s a joy in learning me again. It’s got it’s stresses, but it’s MY stress, that I put on myself, and I can take it off with time and patience. And that’s a wonderful thing.

Posted by bakebunny

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on Monday, 28 February 2011

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Yesterday while driving to an appointment, someone quickly cut me off without warning or apology.  I wanted to scream and shout, which is my typical response, but instead I smiled sarcasticly.  I didn’t feel my blood pressure rise or my adrenaline pumping like I normally do, and it got me thinking about the notion that smiling does help.

I’ve heard about the physical effects of smiling, such as when you smile, your face muscles relax and a part of your brain is stimulated that relaxes you and makes you happy.  Oddly enough, a faked smile has almost the same effects as a real smile.  I can do this…!

I started imagining all the places I can use the smile technique – in the less than 12 items line at the supermarket with someone in front of me with 44 items, or at the delivery guy who rings the doorbell during dinner, when I haven’t ordered anything!, or at the post office worker who tells me I have to complete a form and get back in line. 

What might follow is even better – what if when doing so, the person smiles back at you?  Wouldn’t that be great…?  That would really diffuse the tension and anxiety!  The more I thought about it, the more I thought this could really be a miracle cure for all those little things in life that can annoy you and cause stress, even if minimal.  I’m going to try it again tonite when I’m brushing my teeth in the mirror – at least I know the face will smile back!

 

 

Posted by nunz22

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As a married grad student with two part time jobs, I find that I am constantly pulled in so many directions!   This year has been great practice in my ability to prioritize, plan and make choices about where my time and energy goes.  I’ve had to work really hard to set reasonable expectations for myself and I am constantly updated/reevaluating what those are. 

I am also trying to let go of others’ expectations of me.  While it is important to hear feedback/suggestions from family, friends, co-workers, supervisors and professors, ultimately I am the one who has to decide how much time and effort I can give to each component of my life. 

One important part of this is not letting other people’s criticism or frustrations take over mine.  I have enough of my own stuff to balance, I don’t need to worry about how others are feeling about my performance in various areas.  Of course I will need to do well in my courses and my internship in order to be able to have my supervisors and professors write recommendations on my behalf, but I am figuring out what is good enough!

Posted by melissaqm

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on Sunday, 27 February 2011

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You always hear about all the mental and emotional effects of stress, but not as much about the physical effects of stress.  When you think about this, you realize how important it is to be able to cope and deal with stress in your life.   I always focus on the mental and emotional effects of stress, since they’re so much more obvious, but have been giving more thought to what might be going on inside me as a result of stress.

It’s amazing to consider all of the body systems that are affected by stress.  So many of them are undetectable or overlooked as we experience them.   Cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure is linked to stress, as is respiratory disease, digestive system disease, and muscular disease.  Other physical effects include things like skin outbreaks, and hair loss or greying.

The cumulative damage of unchecked stress on your body is truly amazing.  Food for thought next time we are stressing.  I only have so much more hair that hasn’t yet gone grey!  ;o)

Posted by nunz22

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on Sunday, 27 February 2011

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So I decided to reduce my hours at a job that I have that TOTALLY stresses me out.  I havent notified them yet but am stressing out about it.  I know that this is what I NEED to do for myself for my own sanity. I just need to get up the courage to do it.  I really feel that taking this step is going to alleviate so much stress, anxiety, depression; make me happier.  I just gotta take the step, be brave, step into the unknown and put myself first.  

Posted by stellbell3

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on Saturday, 26 February 2011

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Both of my childern were home this last week for the February vacation. Thankfully it was pretty fun as I had a few ideas in mind for keeping us busy while still keeping it low key/low stress.

Pretty much every other day we had an activity that took us out of the house, otherwise one child would get sucked in to Blue’s Clues videos and the other with the computer.

Monday the boys went to the Westwood SNCARC Center based day where students studying special needs education were volunteers and played with the children. Four hours doesn’t seem like a long time, but I was able to get a few very essential jobs done while they played and drew, and ate pizza.

Wednesday my mother and I took them to a store sponsored event. Millstone Woods in Canton was offering wooden crates for half price and set up an area for kids to paint the newly bought crates. The boys enjoyed it immensely, and we got treated to pizza. We kept Grandma amused with playing “I am Going on a Picnic” with outrageous items, like ducks, oblivious ostriches, and hay for a horse that was coming later!

Friday was my younger son’s birthday and I used a coupon to bring them both to Kids Club Fun Land in Norwood. They got to play on the climbing/bouncing/ball pit structure while I sat and crocheted my son’s birthday sweater. The day was not without it’s stresses as I was running late in picking up my VSO (Very Significant Other), and I needed to bake the cake at the same time I was cooking supper. But overall, it was a very good day, and Ben was very happy with his presents.

Now to just get through the phone call with the abusive ex-husbend tomorrow, and then on to the clean up of the house on Monday…

Posted by bakebunny

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on Saturday, 26 February 2011

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During stressful times, I frequently find myself laying in bed trying to fall asleep but thinking about the things that are causing me stress.  Luckily I usually fall asleep in time, but I wish I had an easy fix to avoid this.

Not being able to sleep, known as insomnia, is common in today’s fast-paced society with so many stressors coming at us.  I think the key is reducing stress before you get into bed, with meditation, a bubble bath, or a hot chocolate.  Also, doing something like reviewing your tax return or a reading a boring novel can really make your eyes glaze over!  Unless you reduce your stress before you even try to sleep, it’s  futile to think you can hop in bed and be asleep in no time, when you have things on your mind.  

Some people experience nightmares due to stress, luckily I don’t, but I can imagine that’s also tough, waking up to a dream that you know is related to what you have been stressing about.

We need to make a commitment to ourselves that we will let everything go for 7 or 8 hours of the day, and don’t fret, it will all be there to deal with the next day, and the good news is it will be easier to deal with if we get the proper restful sleep we need.   Sweet dreams! 

Posted by nunz22

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on Saturday, 26 February 2011

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As an ADD adult, I’m frequently drifting off on tangents and when under stress, these thoughts tend towards the negative, and lead me into a downward spiral. In trying to stop these spirals, I stumbled upon Guided Imagery, sometimes called Purposeful Daydreaming. I adapted this technique of having someone guide you through a pleasant series of images to focus on changing my internal attitudes.

In one sense, it’s the opposite of daydreaming in that you consciously guide yourself into a waking dream of a reality that you want, but at the same time it’s more relaxing than daydreaming. The goal of this practice is to turn your thoughts to positive outcomes, to see yourself and your life in a positive way, and to explore other posibilities to what you currently see as inevitable.

Posted by bakebunny

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on Friday, 25 February 2011

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I don’t know about you, but I have found that working in an office setting has it’s own set of stresses, but luckily in today’s day and age there are lots of office toys designed specifically to help you cope with that stress.  Kind of like venting, to an inanimate object!  (Better than venting to co-workers, which can get you in a lot of hot water…!)

Everyone’s probably used the typical squishy stress balls, which were probably the first office toy ever conceived to reduce stress.  Now there are even more fun and creative office toys to choose from.  One of my favorites is the zen garden, which provides you with a physical creative outlet, that makes no sound and doesn’t demand to be played with!  An old favorite from my childhood that can serve as a great office toy is a Magic 8 ball, when you feel you like want to play and get an objective answer to something!  Also, the old plastic bendable figures are great for the office too – think Gumby!  I’ve seen some people with mini basketball hoops, which I find a lot of fun and personally appeal to me.  (Go Celtics!!)

The skies the limit on what these things can cost, which is part of the fun too – from a dollar to many more dollars, whatever suits your fancy you can find.  Look at joke gift shops and catalogs, and on line. 

Posted by nunz22

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on Friday, 25 February 2011

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Have you ever practiced mindfulness?  It took me a while to “buy in” but once I gave it a shot, I found it to be such a great tool!  There are many understandings of mindfulness practice, including yoga, various types of mediation etc.  The way I learned it was through Marsha Linehan’s Dialectical Behavioral Therapy but the practice of DBT is a subject for another day!

Mindfulness is a method of becoming grounded or centered.  It can be done as a regular practice to help with daily anxiety and stress and to perfect the act of mindfulness itself.  But it can also be a useful tool to pull out in the moment.  When stress or anxiety start to take over your day, practicing mindfulness can help turn things around. 

Mindfulness practices benefit those dealing with PTSD, anxiety and depression but it is also useful for anyone who is overwhelmed by stress.  Taking the time to be aware of your body and your surroundings can help you focus your thoughts as you go about your day.  

Some of my favorite mindfulness exercises include going for a walk and noticing the colors of everything around me, sitting and watching a flame on a candle, or even just closing my eyes and listening to myself breathe. 

You can find mindfulness exercises all over the web, even videos on YouTube! 

Here are two sites with specific examples of mindfulness exercises:

http://www.dayonepublishing.com/VMC/Exercises/Exercises.html

http://eyeslitcrypt.wordpress.com/2008/10/20/twenty-mindfulness-exercises/

Posted by melissaqm

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on Thursday, 24 February 2011

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Just read a news report about a new study that has concluded that your emotional response may affect how your body reacts to stress.  Well, yeah!  That seems logical and I think we would all agree that if you are really nervous about something, your body will be affected and will react to that nervousness and and show signs of stress.

The study was conducted at the University of Pittsburgh, and researchers had study participants make a video recorded speech in a laboratory, in front of a panel of judges.  The physical responses of participants were monitored during the speech, then they were asked about the emotions they were feeling while making their speech.  Those who reported high levels of anxiety or anger had greater increases in Interleukin-6, which is a marker of inflammation, compared to the participants who reported remaining calm.

The researchers say these findings may explain why some people who experience high levels of stress also experience chronic health problems.  Seems like a no brainer to me, but studies scientifically prove what we believe to be true.

I think the moral of the story if you want to be healthy and stay healthy, don’t stress!  Don’t worry, be happy…!  :o) 

 

Posted by nunz22

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on Thursday, 24 February 2011

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Life can be crazy sometimes!  Life is also REALLY awesome!  But I am definitely leaning more towards the crazy part of life lately.  Just feeling out of sorts these days and I came to the realization last night that all of this negativity, unhappiness, stress I am feeling in many parts of life is really just coming from one place……what do I REALLY want to do in life!!

I like what I do….I help people. I listen to people. I empower people. I make them feel like they are not alone.  But doing all of that can take a toll on a soul (I am such a poet).  It nourishes me at times.  But I feel like I NEED a change.  In the last year and a half I have struggled with trying to figure out what I want to do when I grow up.  In October 2009, I returned from a six month trip hiking the Appalachian Trail, the most amazing experience of my life. This past September I turned thirty.  Having this amazing, liberating “vacation” hiking mixed with turning thirty and feeling like I was supposed to have everything figured out has been sending me for a loop.  And this loop has been going on for awhile.  I just keeping telling myself “I am in a transition. I am in a transition.  It will all work out. It will be ok.”  I am just sticking by my believe that everything always works out!  

Posted by stellbell3

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on Thursday, 24 February 2011

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John Wooden is considered one of the greatest coaches, let alone basketball coaches, to have ever lived.  He set an NCAA record by winning 10 NCAA Men’s Basketball Championships from 1948-1975.  What’s even more amazing is the fact that he did this without ever swearing or losing his temper.  Since his death last summer at the age of 99, more amazing facts come out about him.  One such fact is that he was married only once to Nellie Riley, whom he stayed married to from 1932 until 1985, her death.  However, Nellie was the only woman he ever dated.

The only one!  Unbelievable!  Do you know anyone who has dated only one person, then got married to that person, then stayed with them until death do they part?  Those are the kinds of stories you hear about in fairy tales.

Posted by dj

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on Thursday, 24 February 2011

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All, 

I am so excited to start my blog today.  I think I am ready to rise above stress. 

Posted by newcip

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on Monday, 14 February 2011

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