5 Ways to Reduce Stress with a Blast-From-Your-Past

5 Ways to Reduce Stress with a Blast From Your Past!

I have the perfect combination for you! Doctors have been telling us for years how stress can cause all sorts of bad stuff – health issues, emotional issues, psychological issues. Finding ways to diffuse stress is a million-dollar business (squeezy ball anybody?). But worth it, right? Because less stress equals a happier, healthier us. But you don’t have to spend big bucks to get big relief from too much stress. Studies show that thinking about positive memories can have the stress-reducing effect that many of us are in need of. So here’s that perfect combo I  promised you: take a little a stress-reducing trip down memory lane with one of these nostalgic stress busters. Bonus: each one costs under five dollars!

  1. Bubbles. Blow your irritations away. The act of dipping a wand into soapy suds and waving it through the air, leaving a trail of delightful bubbles is sure to put a smile on your face. The 5 Ways to Reduce Stress With a Blast-From-Your-Pastdrifting bubbles soothe as they glide around you. Try naming a few of the bigger ones: Guilt Trip, Rude Person (you get the idea) and watch them pop into oblivion! (Under $2)

2. Silly Putty. Yes – it’s still around! Remember how it works? We used to press it on to comics, then roll it off and the comic image would transfer to the putty – just waiting to be stretched and distorted. Newspaper ink doesn’t lift like it used to, but pencil lead still does. Grab a pencil and make a list of those stress-inducing aggravations. Roll your putty over them. Then stretch them until they are unrecognizable and do a final blot-out by squishing the mass into a ball. Now smooth out your not-so-silly-putty and return it to its egg until it’s time to take on the next stresser! (Under $2)5 Ways to Reduce Stress With a Blast-From-Your-Past

3. Jacks. The perfect rhythm-building distraction. For a more authentic youthful experience, sit on the floor, legs crossed in the universal kid-sit way. For those of us who might never be able to get back up from such a position, a desk top works just fine for the bounce, scoop, bounce, scoop-more stress-busting activity! (Under $5 for the metal ones – even less for plastic)5 Ways to Reduce Stress With a Blast-From-Your-Past

4. Paper airplane. Fly your worries away! Write down those irksome issues that are causing you anxiety on a nice cool piece of paper. Take a trip back in time and fold up your paper, creating a calming rhythm as you smooth your creases, creating your paper-problem-navigator. Once you have that nose nice and pointy, 5 Ways to Reduce Stress With a Blast-From-Your-Pastsail your problems into the closest wall for a satisfying crunch. For the grand finale? Sail your plane into a bucket or sink full of water and watch the problems literally breakdown. Now, doesn’t that feel good? (Free!)

5. Play-Doh. Craft some shapes that represent your time-wasting worries. Got them all lined up and ready for destruction? Now aggressively flatten each one with a hand, rolling pin, or (remember Mr. Bill?) your car. When those Play-Doh stressers see you coming at them, full speed ahead, they’ll say:








Motivational Monday #18

Don’t be afraid to take a break from your worries, your sadness, or the problems you haven’t resolved yet to have a laugh. It doesn’t mean that you are less sad or that you’re not taking your problems seriously – it is just a bit of balm to your spirit and mind to help you continue to deal with what you have on your plate. So call that friend who can crack you up, turn on that goofy sitccom, or grab the funny papers, because

Motivational Monday #18


Should I Stay or Should I Go: Gym vs. Home

Gym vs Home

Keeping in mind several previous posts – cutting down on stress (holiday or otherwise) and meeting our goals – I want to first announce our November GoalFest winner. Congratulations to Pauline King! Your name was drawn at random from those that accomplished their November goal. Please make sure you let us know which ‘flavor’ of stress-reducing-scent-therapy-providing sugar scrub you would like to receive.

As health is an important goal for all of us, especially as we age, I was pondering the best options for getting in some physical activity which for me helps meet my fitness goal and helps reduce stress. While I am working out (aka listening to my pod casts while doing some treadmill and elliptical work) I am much less stressed and also increasing my fitness level. The rest of my day seems to go smoother; my body is producing those ‘feel good’ chemicals that keep me on a more even keel; and when I get home, I am free to relax. For me, first thing in the morning and outside the house is the best fit for me. For others, it could be something entirely different. Maybe you don’t have a large chunk of time so need to fit in small bursts throughout the day or maybe you need to do it at home at the end of your day when others are busy doing something else. Below are reasons why either inside or outside the home can work for you. Take a look and see if you find some options that seem to fit with your lifestyle. I took information from personal experience and from the following links to put together this comparison – Gym workouts vs. At Home workouts.

Gym (Outside the Home) At Home ‘Gym’
Fewer Distractions
Not much else to do at the gym but work out. No family members to interrupt you since they are not just down the hall or right upstairs. On the other hand, it could be a social gathering place which could limit your workout time if you get to gabbing with friends or work out less hard so you can hold a conversation. Not a social scene so workouts are completely unfettered by having to maintain a conversation. Could be pulled away from a workout if others at the house feel they need you for something or if you see something that needs to be done that distracts you from getting started on the workout routine.
Time/Money Investment
Gym Memberships can be pricey. This could keep you motivated to continue so you get your money’s worth or it could deter you from joining as that cost is just not in the budget. Time investment – could take you longer to get to where you are working out and time spent waiting for equipment can be de-motivating. No money for membership but if you are considering home equipment, good stuff costs money. There are inexpensive ways to get a good workout though – walking, exercise tapes, inexpensive weights and resistance bands. Not investing money could prove de-motivating as you have not invested so if you discontinue working out, you haven’t really lost anything financially.
Diversity of Equipment
Your membership affords you a plethora of equipment. You should make sure you know the best and safest way to use all that equipment. It is not your responsibility to maintain the equipment in good working order either which is a plus. Unless you have a great deal of unlimited resources, outfitting your home with all the equipment in a gym is just not a likely scenario. However, diverse workouts can still be created by using different inexpensive equipment and changing up your workout routine. One good piece like a treadmill or elliptical and some lesser expensive tools either rented or bought at second hand stores (we all know how many good intentions end up on sale after the motivation has run out) should do the trick.
Seeing all those fit people around you can prove very motivating. Also seeing how the level of effort made by others can inspire you to ‘pump up the volume’. However, if seeing all those fit people makes you feel out of place or self-conscious you are more likely to stop going to the gym. You have no one but yourself to motivate you which can be a good thing. If you find yourself running out of motivational thoughts, you could always ask a friend to join in the workouts – keeps you accountable and helps share the burden of keeping the routine going. You don’t have to worry about ‘keeping up with the Jones’ when it comes to fashionable workout gear and or level of fitness. No one to judge you when in the privacy of your own home.
Group Exercises
You’re already there and the costs of classes is usually included in your membership. Definitely a plus as variety helps keeps us going when the ‘going gets tough’. Local community centers and local fitness centers do offer classes. They are not in your home but can supplement your home workouts. You can also rent a different workout tape from the library each week if you prefer to stay home and yet still want some variety.
Easier to Commit ( THIS IS THE BIGGIE)
If you invested money and have signed up for a class, maybe signed up a personal trainer, you should be motivated to keep that commitment. Who wants to throw money away! Just don’t let the travel to and fro and the social aspects of the gym derail your commitment! If working out at home allows you to commit to a routine that doesn’t rely on having additional money in your budget each month and doesn’t allow you to make excuses for going back out to workout then home is the place for you. Just don’t let the other distraction that home provides to derail your commitment.

Whatever works for you – maybe a little bit a both. Just keep moving.   -M


Friday Five – Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

Don't Sweat the Small StuffSometimes mixed in the anticipation and joy and excitement over the holidays, a bit of stress can creep in and wreak havoc with our Holiday Zen! We really shouldn’t worry though. I honestly don’t remember if the house I was celebrating at was messy or clean or if all the dishes were perfect. I do remember if I enjoyed myself and laughed with family and friends! This season, we really hope you will try to take some of the anxiety out of the many gatherings and truly enjoy the moments. Here are a few tips to help de-stress and unwind should you find yourself with a few nerves jangled!

1) Music: It does sooth the savage beast and nothing is more savage than stress. Create a favorite play list. It doesn’t have to be Christmas music, maybe it shouldn’t be! Whatever gets you ‘feeling groovy’ and lifts your spirit. We all have our favorites and it’s so easy now with all the new technology to create the perfect mix. Crank it up and ‘be happy’!

2) Make a list: And check it twice – Santa knows what he’s doing. Getting some organization into the craziness is a great way to lower the stress level. Take a few minutes, think about what you need for Thanksgiving, what it is going to take to accomplish it, and BE REALISTIC. We don’t have to do everything. Use that same tactic for Christmas or Hanukkah or whatever holiday you are celebrating. Delegating a few items on that list is also a great idea.

3) Less is more: Think of your top three favorite traditions and make sure they are included in your celebrations. Anything else is a bonus and not to be stressed over.

4) Get Moving: As mentioned previously – turkey trotting can help relieve stress. Physical activity is a natural stress reducer. Go for a walk, play with the kids or pets, dance to that favorite music mix you created a few tips back. You will feel better, calmer and more ready to take on the festivities.

5) Rest: Seems like an oxymoron in this instance. So much to do, so little time. However, if you are rested you can accomplish more and you can do it with an air of calm. Just speaking for myself here, but lack of sleep has ruined more moments than I care to remember (and admit). Try, try, try to get to bed at a decent time, make notes on that list you created so you can relax knowing it’s on your list and you will get to it. Now you are free to get some Zzzzs!

BONUS: Closing off doors to those rooms you are not going to use. You don’t have to clean everything.

Dont's Sweat the Small Stuff Smiling Faces

 What are your tips for de-stressing over the holidays?




Serious Smile Power

Serious Smile PowerI confess I’m one of those (obnoxious?) people who, even though I know you’re trying to avoid eye contact as you pass me on the street, will flash a big smile when you get close to accompany my bright “Good morning!” You may ignore me. You may grumble/mumble a response to my unexpected greeting. But as often as not, you’re going to smile back – and maybe even offer a pleasantry of your own. Why? Because smiles are every bit as contagious as yawns!

You already know how effective your own smile can be. It can make somebody happy, calm somebody down, or get somebody to do exactly what you’d like them to do. But the power of a smile goes way beyond the surface. Studies show that smiling more can help us live longer, reduce stress, and reduce blood pressure. Another study shows that smiling can generate the same level of brain stimulation as up to 2,000 bars of chocolate! (Okay – I might need actual proof for that last one.)

In this popular Ted talk, more hidden powers of smiling are revealed. Check it out for a great way to start the week with a (powerful!) smile on your face!

Sandwiched – Make Mine a Knuckle

Knuckle SandwichCaptureThe other morning I made my granddaughter cry as we got ready for school and her 5th Grade Recognition Ceremony, backed down the driveway directly into a parked UPS truck on the road, arrived late for work and distribution of ‘high visibility’ monthly reports, and had three messages from my 79 year old papa regarding PET scan scheduling and the importance of making sure his diabetes does not interfere with the test. All of this before 8:30 AM!

I know my granddaughter will recover, we’ll hug it out. The damage to my vehicle will have to wait for repairs – my trunk does not open and close but I’ve forgotten what is in there anyway. I have good creds here at work so my job is not in jeopardy (at the moment). And, I will work out the logistics of the PET scan and maintenance of blood sugar levels and getting to where we need to be during this journey through the latest health issue. Life throws punches at us – it happens. I would however, like to strengthen my bobbing and weaving skills and increase my stamina a bit so I don’t create additional damage along the way.


For those of you also feeling sandwiched between two generations and/or pressed from all sides, here are a few things I am learning about being fierce in the midst of all life can throw at us.

1)      We really can only control so much. Find out what that is and quit wrestling with the rest.

As unfair as it seems, I had no control over that UPS driver parking in a perfectly visible location while he gallivanted about doing his job delivering packages to my conspiring neighbors (you know there were in on it)! I can’t control my granddaughter’s moods (nor mine apparently) but I can make sure she has a plan for getting her homework done, getting to bed at a reasonable hour and boundaries that say ‘there are consequences for our actions’. I can’t control the outcome of all the tests and procedures my dear family member is about to undergo, but I can be present and I can work to find out answers to his questions.

2)      Forgive yourself and others

There is no way you are going to be perfect in the midst of dealing with a health crisis, temporary housing situation, unexpected financial stresses, increased demands on your time, etc… etc…. I screamed (I wanted to say ‘yelled’ but as ugly as it sounds – I screamed) at a 10-year old, I cried over a banged up rear end (the car’s – I don’t even look at my rear end anymore), and felt very impatient and resentful (another ugly reaction) over having to explain once again where and when we needed to be for the next appointment, what documents we were bringing, what we could and could not eat before this procedure, etc. Forgiving others is easy most times. Forgiving those we run into throughout the course of our hectic day is easy – as long as we remember that we have no idea what is going on in others’ lives or where they just came from before our daily routine overlapped with theirs. Forgiving ourselves is much harder. I should have been more understanding and restrained. I should have paid closer attention. I should have more patience and compassion. Recognize the infraction, make amends where appropriate, and get over and on with it. We are all human – not a perfect one amongst us.

3)      Don’t forget to laugh

Humor really is sooooo good for us. Even in the midst of ‘really bad things’, finding something funny about it makes us all feel better. When we feel better, we act better, we forgive easier, and we don’t worry about having control.

Remember to LaughCapture