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Archive for September, 2010

AttributionNo Derivative Works Some rights reserved by WTL photos

In the middle of a savage zombie invasion, your heart beat increases, adrenaline flows through your body, and your muscles stiffen in anticipation of a possible impact to the body.

Luckily for most of us we won’t face the zombie apocalypse anytime soon.  But sometimes we can experience this same stress response in our daily lives.  One big problem, or a barrage of smaller ones, add up and overload both mind and body.  While we can recover from a day or two of such stress, week after week of “fight or flight” can leave us feeling overwhelmed and hopeless.

Why does this happen?  I know I’m not the only one waiting on hold forever, in endless line, or getting their paperwork wet in the rain that curses the fact that they got out of bed this morning.  On days like this, I don’t laugh off my over-reaction to muddy dog prints on the floor, I yell at the dog and angrily wipe them up while silently contemplating if anyone I know would like a new pet.

Recognizing this build-up before it gets to the blow-out point can be a lifesaver.  A good way to do this is to teach yourself to take a break each time you notice the worry, frustration, and anxiety are building up.  When you feel too busy to stop, that’s a good sign you need to slow down.

Like any other skill, it takes practice. There are several strategies you can use to do this.  One is to set times during the day to check in with yourself and see how you’re feeling. If for example, you notice at your 10:00 break that you are feeling worried, overwhelmed or upset, you can take a few minutes to do some deep breathing, put on some fun music or take a walk to change your focus. If you’re feeling fine, you can simply continue with your day.

You can also teach yourself to stop for a few minutes whenever you feel stressed. This is harder to do, as you have to consciously realize that you are feeling stressed.  Once you recognize the signals – shallow breathing, stiff shoulders or back, headache, tired eyes, etc, you can take a few moments to recover. Close your eyes and simply sit still for a few minutes.  If your mind is racing too much, count backwards from 50 to 1 or 100 to 1 until you are breathing deeper and feeling calmer.

Amazingly even 1-2 minutes of deep breathing can improve your mood. You’ll find longer lasting relief by taking a 10-15 minute break, but any break at all will help you refocus your attention, breaking the cycle of worry, complaining and anger you feel.

Because it’s hard to think of ideas to break your negative thinking while it’s happening, here are few ideas:

  • Relax. Close your eyes.  This rests your eyes and your mind.  In the fluorescent jungle the lights can dry our eyes and cause eyestrain bringing on a headache.  Taking a few minutes to rest can stop a headache before it starts.
  • Refocus. Keep some pictures, quotes or other inspiration material around.  Take a few minutes away from what you’re doing.  Let yourself just “be” for a moment.  Even 5 minutes of refocusing time can make a huge difference.
  • Change perspective. Play some music.  Classics can be soothing and calming, while rock, pop or disco are upbeat and energetic.  Chair dancing to some fun tunes can liven up almost any task.
  • Wake up. Get some air.  It’s surprising what a little fresh air can do for you.  You’ll breathe deeper, blink a little in the bright light, get your blood flowing by walking around and go back to work feel much more refreshed.
  • Fun. Do something fun for a few minutes.  Talk to a coworker, share a joke, read the comics or watch a cartoon on your MP3.  Doing something you enjoy can lighten your mood and when you return your hurdles won’t seem insurmountable anymore.
  • Get some support. Talk to a friend.  Give them a call or send an email.  Hearing a friendly voice or venting a little can take the stress down a level.  Knowing someone cares helps you feel loved and reminds you of your strengths.
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By jurvetson

Today is Gratitude Day. I’ve always loved writing down things I’m grateful for and then looking back at the happy memories later. It also helps you focus on the positive things in your life when things aren’t so grand.  Taking a moment to reflect on the good things in life helps make me a happier person.  Here are a few good things from this weekend and today:

Weekend:

I took a 3 day long weekend and was off yesterday.  I’m grateful for all the rest I got (up to 12 hours of sleep in one night!)  And I’m glad to have a shorter work week as a result.  I’m grateful for the sunny days I enjoyed and for the quiet and peacefulness of the mountains which I love so much.  I enjoyed finding the one apple on the new apple tree – it was really yummy.  I’m grateful for neighbors that let us eat some of the pears on their tree – double yummy.  Plus we made homemade blizzards this weekend that were just as good as Dairy Queen.  (Enjoy those summer perks while you still can.)

A list of things I’m grateful for today:

  • That I work indoors out of the heat.
  • That I have a job where I work at my own pace.
  • I’m glad I remember to get my stuff ready the night before so I don’t have to rush in the morning.  ( I like having time to wake-up before work.)
  • I’m glad I’ve updated my book list this week so I know which books to get from the library.  (I’m a big book lover so having a list of what you need in each series is essential!)
  • I’m happy to have accomplished a bunch of to-do items this weekend.
  • I’m super-excited that tomorrow is the start of fall.  Summer’s great, but I love that cool, crisp fall air, the changing leaves and drinking hot cocoa when it’s chilly.
  • I’m glad I’m learning to practice relaxing more and not letting problems affect how I feel.  (Though I have to practice this one a lot.)
  • I’m grateful my dog in is good health even though she’s 14 years old.
  • I’m glad I get to listen to a variety of music every day.  With my MP3 player and satellite TV I can be as eclectic as I want.
  • And so on. . .

And yes, much of this stuff are things I was grateful for before.  But isn’t it nice when you can just sit down and think for a few minutes and come up with a list of things to be happy about?  It definitely improves my mood and perspective. Plus there’s always a few things you forgot about or didn’t mention that you think of later.  That’s like bonus happiness points.  Gratitude Day reminds us that we really do have a lot to be happy about, if only we sit down and take a minute to appreciate it.

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Soap Film – EXPLORED! #15
Originally uploaded by ..MisDan..slooooowly catching up

Random thoughts on Thursday. . .

I love being unique, but sometimes I hate the fact that not many people get me. I can crack myself up with movie quotes, crazy rhymes, nicknames or just random silliness. Most people at work look at me like I’m crazy. Even friends who know me sometimes give me that wide-eyed look of “What is she going on about now?”

There’s a great quote that just tickles my funny bone. However when I used it the other day my coworkers were like “What TV show? Do you even have any kids?” No guys – you don’t need kids to enjoy cartoons. Do you know that many cartoons have more creative dialogue than the top-rated sitcoms? Hence one of the reasons I like cartoons. (Well, that and King Julien – he rules!)

“Whatever floats your root beer.”  – Zookeeper on Penguins of Madagascar cartoon

My random wandering is my pathway to creativity. Take my Teddy Bear Day poem the other day. That simply came about because I have a wacky holiday calendar posted at my office. I drew a teddy bear (badly) on a piece of paper, then started thinking of Teddy Bear rhymes. That lead me to the poem. Simple. Fun. Most of my friends didn’t even realize I made it up – they thought I copied it or something. Which is kind of flattering, but sometimes feels insulting. Don’t they know me well enough to recognize my stuff? Especially when my email says – sorry this is late, I just thought it up today.

Too bad all those experts aren’t right. If it was easy to make money being creative I’d be self-employed by now. Each time I’ve tried to focus it, it hasn’t worked out. I keep plugging along hopping that sooner or later I’ll figure it out and be able to live my dream of working for myself.

“I did nothing, absolutely nothing. And it was everything I dreamed it could be. – Peter Gibbons, Office Space.

Here’s wishing you a Thrilling Thursday and the chance to live your dreams!

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Originally uploaded by *brynne

Technically Teddy Bear Day was yesterday, on the 9th, but since I didn’t think up this poem until today, I’m calling a Do-Over and celebrating now. So here goes:

National Teddy Bear Day
Teddy bears are always nice, and never –ever rude
They spread love and laughter and a happy attitude

Teddy bears are always humble, they never brag and boast
And they’ll never tell a secret, or steal your piece of toast

Teddy bears and warm and snuggly, they’re dear to our heart
They love to meet all our friends, and I’ve yet to hear one fart

Teddy bears come in every shape and size
And each one is perfect in their owner’s eyes

Better than any warrior, Teddy bears are courageous
Their kind-hearted, joyful nature is a bit contagious

Through every storm in life, they’ll help you get through
And all they ask in return, is a little love from you.

Have you hugged your Teddy Bear today?

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by Prozac74

While reading another blog that I love, I came across a theme that really resonates with me. It’s called “Rules that don’t exist.” I love this idea firstly because I have always been a bit weird.  I often enjoy things that friends or family dislike or aren’t interested in.  It could be liking music someone else hates, or my love reading – I can’t get enough of it.  Some friends hope that particular disease isn’t contagious

That’s why living by your own rules is so important. Another great blogger, Gretchen Rubin, talks about how what’s fun for other people may not be fun for you – and vice versa.  This is so important to recognize.  You can’t live your life by other people’s rules.

If you love foreign films, or playing video games, or doing sudoku, go right ahead and have fun!  If you love knitting, making homemade Christmas cards or fantasy football – go for it!  Do what YOU love.  Remember love is a matter of the heart. Just like no one can make you love a particular person, no one can make you love a particular thing either.

If you’re anything like me, you live the old adage “Joys shared are doubled, sorrows shared are halved.”  For me, it’s completely true.  Sometimes I feel my joy is diminished because the people around me don’t share my enthusiasm and interest.

It is an enormous relief to realize that while none of my friends like playing with toys – I love it!  I like movies that my husband hates.  It’s like a milkshake – some love strawberry or vanilla, but I love chocolate.  Living life by your own rules means enjoying your particular flavor of life.

That’s one of the beautiful things about the Internet.  There you can find comrades who enjoy EXACTLY the same things as you.  Even if you have to go to one site for Harry Potter fans, and another one for horror movie fans.  (Both of which I like.)

I was reading an article with a point of view I disagreed with today, and it made me feel guilty.  (I thought the article had a point.)  But then I realized, that even though I agree with some of the information, I didn’t agree with the main point.  And that’s TOTALLY OK.  My whole perspective shifted once I realized it’s okay to disagree.

So whatever rules you use to live your life, make them ones that work for you.  Look at the things that you think you should believe – that doing things for others is good for you, that you can’t stay out late on a work night, or that rollercoasters are fun.  Maybe so, but maybe that’s not true for you.  Create a life that makes sense for you, not someone else, even someone you admire. Go live life by YOUR RULES!

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