Monday, December 23, 2013

Something Appropriate

STRESS – Or How To Make An Eight Second Ride.

Ok, twist my arm! I will do something appropriate but it is going to be boring. I would rather talk about relationships, choices, decisions, or sex but it is the Holiday Season.   Christmas and New Years are just around the corner and we have all heard of the “STRESS” this time of year can bring. Or at least the “STRESS” we are supposed to have… It’s like an eight-second ride during Frontier Days at the Cheyenne Rodeo. Intense, filled with passion, expectation and sometimes the best we can do is to hang on.

This time of year brings out the “best” in us, as people. We assess where we have gone wrong throughout the year and pledge to do better next year. We take an inventory of where we have been “good” or “bad” and hope that the person reviewing the list will believe the old adage that “when we are good we are very good but when we are bad, we are marvelous”. Ok, so just a little “bad”… I’ll be good... I promise…. Really! Well, maybe not… Just a few more seconds left until that whistle blows…. Hang on…

Everyone knows this time of year triggers the chaos of last-minute gift buying, binge eating, hangovers, and general gatherings of friends and family. It is the “season” to be Jolly, if not just a little hung over. The problem lies in the manner in which many people handle their stress. Their coping often leads to more stress. I.e. eating, drinking, smoking, drug use and extra relationship sex, Ok, enough of the positive aspects of “Christmas Office Parties”… That again, is yet another story for yet another time...

What many don’t know is chronic stress can lead to severe health problems and the development of illnesses ranging from migraines to heart disease. People who suffer from chronic stress become easily agitated, irritable and develop a variety of “body” problems which include but are not limited to difficulty sleeping, weight gain, stomach problems, general muscle aches , depression and anxiety… The list continues. Many people find they have difficulty sleeping, concentrating and they exhibit a decrease in memory skills… Stress can do all these things and this time of year adds multiple layers to these stressors.

So, if what I am saying is even slightly true, how can we manage this stress? How can we keep the Stress Wolf from our door and keep him from feeding upon our good nature? How can we manage stress more effectively? Or do we just need to hang on and get through the “eight minute ride”? Like riding that bull during Frontier Days in Cheyenne, Wyoming, it is most effective if we become an active participant. We can’t predict all the twists and turns of life but we can influence the ride, reducing the chances of negative results and increasing the chances of coming through it healthy and in one piece.

The most productive way, is to reduce its effects. And the most effective manner to manage Holiday Stress is through diet. Yes, I am talking about a healthy eating plan plus a few extras… Ok, not rocket science but effective…

• Eating a balanced diet, it is essential. This means a high protein, low carbohydrate, low fat, low sugar, and high fiber diet. Proper nutrition is essential to minimize cravings and help you “not” over indulge. Difficult this time of year but it is also essential. Take control of what goes in your mouth.

• Exercise is next… yes, that’s right. You have to stay active and keep your arms and legs moving. Sitting in your favorite chair, eating that turkey sandwich, or draining your 5th bourbon or scotch does not count. Your brain needs to release chemicals that enhance your mood and relieve stress. Twenty minutes of aerobic exercise will accomplish this, over indulging in alcohol or food will not. Make the time to exercise, and then do it. You will be glad you did.

• Sleep… Yes, you heard me right... Sleep. Most of us do not get enough of it and the sleep we get is often not rested. The body and brain cope better when they are rested and renewed. Research says that the average adult needs between 7 and 9 hours of down time to feel adequately rested. This rest also needs to be consistent… You can’t make up for lost sleep. So, party all night and sleep all day does not work…. Really…!

• Focus on relaxation and meditation for both your brain and body. Stretching and breathing exercises are vital… Remember to concentrate on this during a time when you have no distractions of interruptions…. Again, make the time. The result will be a more relaxed you, coupled with an overall sense of well being.

• Manage your priorities and “honey-do” lists, even the lists that “Your Honey Doesn’t Do”. You can’t be everything to everybody, especially during the Holiday Season… Everyone is going to want a piece of you and you are going to want to give a slice to everyone. Determine what is important to you. You are going to have to say “NO” to some things, some people, and some engagements.

• The most important but often the most over looked is “YOU”. Make time for you. You make time for everyone else. At some point during the day take a few minutes to get away from demands and distractions. Take a warm bath. Read a good book. Listen to some favorite tunes… The important thing is to feed a small part of you that has been neglected… It doesn’t take long but it needs to be done. And YES, you do have the time if you exercise one thing… Say “NO”… Remember there is only 24 hours in the day and stress takes its toll, even good stress.

Ok, enough is enough. This Reservation Recluse is going to take a little “me” time. Selfish I know but also important. Remember that this Season is a time for giving, sharing, and counting the good things in life… We all have them and if we really open our eyes and allow ourselves to focus, we will see them. Even in times of STRESS. Therefore, as you reach out to others, in these next few weeks, don’t forget you… Without you, there would be no others.

I know, it’s all a choice and sometimes choice is difficult. Choice makes us accountable and responsible… Sometimes we just have to LIVE and living means being active... Now is a good time to be active, now is a good to live.… As this past year ends and a new one begins, look at how far you have come. Take a good look at the accomplishments you have made. Some were not easy. Others came without too much pain or effort. They all are important. We all make this journey, sometimes we do not take the time to notice. Now is the time to take that time, the time to count ones blessings and take control of you. Remember the eight-second ride. We all take it. Let’s do it with style, focus, and intent.

Maybe it’s a good day after all… Until later... As a little ole man in a Red Suit once said, “Merry Christmas to all and to all a good … a good….” Well, you get the picture…. Tomorrow is a new dawn and with the light comes vision… Sometimes all it takes to see is to open one’s eyes…

You right... It’s all a choice. I’ve made mine… Are you going to make yours? It could be you already have and right now, well, you are watching the paint dry… And that my deep eyed, energetic friend, is a good day after all!

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