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The Stress Doc Letter
Cybernotes from the Online Psychohumorist ™

NOV 2004, Sec. I

Fight when you can
Take flight when you must
Flow like a dream
In the
Phoenix we trust!


Table of Contents

Section I

Shrink Rap I: 
  Practice Safe Stress for the Holidays
Shrink Rap II:  Don't "Just Say No":  The Art of "N & N"
Readers:          Investment Terminology and Playing It Safe

Section II

Main Article:    
Readers' Post-Election Reflections
Heads Up:         Churchill Hotel, Estrin Legal Education, Montgomery County, MD Dept. of Housing
Offerings:
         Training Kit, Books, CD and AOL Chat
 


Shrink Rap I:

With the holidays upon us, I'll dust off my holiday classic.  Enjoy!  And best wishes.

Practice Safe Stress for the Holidays:
The 4 "F"s of Holiday Friction


While many associate the holidays with Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, and its theme of gaining and sharing the holiday spirit, the opening lines from A Tale of Two Cities may have even more relevance:

It was the best of times, it was the worst of time
It was the season of light, it was the season of darkness...
It was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.

Like Dickens, I too have tried to capture the complexity of the holidays; if not through a great novel, then with my one classic holiday joke.  I realized with all this talk of pressure during the holidays, I needed to distinguish between "Holiday Blues" and "Holiday Stress."  Now holiday blues is the feeling of loss or sadness that you have over the holidays when, for whatever reason, you can't be with those people who have been or are special and significant.  And holiday stress...is when you have to be with some of those people!

Now here's some lighthearted, seasonal verse I wrote years ago for my radio feature, "Stress Brake."  It's called "Cruisin for a Bluesin":

The holidays may bring you down
And you just sing the blues.
To turn those soured tones around
Just play these "don'ts" and "dos."

When you're cruisin on the town
Don't charge away the blues.
If you card the credit crown
Your spouse may blow a fuse.

For fussy dad the streets you'll pound
To find the perfect muse.
He might as well be tied...and bound
He'll never change his views.

If you're alone, don't be house bound
Or cuddle up to booze.
Go ahead.  Drown a frown with tears
And folks who can amuse.

Why not try that choral sound
Spread some joyous news.
For when the voices do resound
Then notes you can abuse.

This year don't play the tragic clown
Be bold in how you choose.
You too can prance above the ground
Put on those dancing shoes.

So now we've come full circle round
More lines I must refuse.
Just know when love and friends abound
The blues have many hues.


(c) Shrink Rap Productions  1997


Despite this good advice, we know that when you are with some of those people (or if they are just in your head), real sparks can fly.  Here are "The Four 'F's of
Holiday Friction:  Fantasies, Family, Food and Finances."

1.  Fantasies. 
First, the idyllic image of the holidays portrayed by the media seems so out of touch with reality, it's enough to make you overload on eggnog (with or without the alcohol).

Another pressure is the internalized memories we carry around. I recall my friend Linda, a single parent at the time, berating herself because she couldn't keep up with the holidays - the cooking, the shopping, the house decorations, etc. - the way her mother had.  Of course, Linda's mom did not work outside the home.  I also recall Linda observing that, as a successful professional, she now has the money but lacks the time for the season.  Previously, when she wasn't working, she had plenty of time and no money:  The "Holiday Catch-22."

And, finally, this season turns most of us into sentimental jelly fish, just waiting to get entangled in the arms of that "true love."  Hey, I'm not saying that Mr. or Ms. Holiday Hopeful is as possible or as real as Santa Claus.  (My motto:  "I no longer count on nor discount any possibility.")  Just don't let childhood longings and memories and voices transform you into a frantic, salivating, love-crazed inner child.

The key to managing this friction:  gently embrace, don't cling, to magical memories.  Discover a blend of magical realism that helps you balance love, work and play in the present.

2.  Family.
  There are so many permutations in families these days, it's got to get a bit confusing.  For separated families, a poignant question:  which parent (or grandparents) will we be with for Thanksgiving, for Christmas, for New Years?  I vividly remember an eight year old's lament:  "Why can't we just be one family again?"

Another common family issue is when a holiday gathering turns into a competitive arena for sibling rivalry, along with a desire for long-standing recognition and approval.  And if you find in these family therapy sessions, I mean holiday reunions, that you can't resist trying to change the attitude and behavior of the parent (sibling or child) that "makes you crazy," patterns which have resisted influence attempts for decades...maybe there's only one solution.  Have you thought about getting far out of town for the holidays? 

3.  Food.  The holidays turn most of us into bingeaholics.  Running helter skelter, not stopping for lunch, overdosing on the cookies and chocolate that a colleague has brought to work.  And discipline at a party is a contradiction in terms.  This caloric chaos is not surprising considering the biggest role model of the holidays looks like he hasn't met a single gram of fat in two hundred years that he doesn't love.  Hey, Santa Claus hasn't been doing his aerobic workouts either.  But wait...Appoint a designated nagger, who will gently remind you when you are overdoing it.  Don't chat hovering around the buffet table.  Take reasonable portions and move away.  Now replace food with some food for thought. 

And face it, no matter what you do, or don't do, you are likely to add some pounds on the holidays.  So go to the malls and walk briskly for thirty minutes before you start the shopping splurge.  You'll spend less and, probably, will eat less as well.

4.  Finances. 
The holidays heighten our monetary consciousness -- from the end of the year financial and psychological accounting (did we meet our financial/family security and career goals?) to the never-ending list of holiday gifts.  And as the great Russian novelist, Doestoyevsky, noted:  "Consciousness is depression!" 

For the first issue, seek a budget counselor, a CPA, a career counselor or even a mental health specialist.  For the last, "just say no" to your child's "toy lust."  Give your child choices; explain why there are limits. Try this holiday mantra:  "Presence not just presents."  This season, invest time, not just money. 

For big families, be creative.  Divide up the gift list with other relatives.  You shouldn't have to buy something for everyone.  Making a gift definitely adds a personal touch.  And, finally, don't overlook a very important person.  Get a special gift for yourself.

So the holidays may be a stressful time; a time of feelings of loss and sadness.  But with a little higher power humor it also, can be a source of creative expression and sharing.  Here's my gift to you:

Double-Edged Depression

Waves of sadness
Raging river of fear
Whirlpooling madness
Till I disappear
Into the depths of primal pain
Then again...no pain, no gain.

Depression, depression
Is it chemistry or confession?
Depression, depression
Dark side of perfection!

Climbing icy spires
Dancing at the ledge
The phoenix only rises
On the jagged edge
In a world of highs and lows
Hey, the cosmos ebbs and flows.

Depression, depression
It's electrifried obsession
High flying depression
Exalted regression?

So I'm pumping iron
And Prozac, too
What else can
A real man do
In a life of muted dreams
How about a primal SCREAM?

Depression, depression
Even inner child rejection
Depression, depression
Hallelujah for creative expression!


(c)  Mark Gorkin   1994
      Shrink Rap Productions


Just remember, for the holidays and beyond...Practice Safe Stress!
 


Shrink Rap II:

Michael Smith, President of TeraTech (michael@teratech.com), sponsor of the National Cold Fusion Conference (for which I've been a speaker) asked me to write a 100 word column for an e-newsletter.  The request evoked memories of writing short "Stress Brake" essays for drive-time radio in N'Awlins.  Who says you can't go home again...at least if it's way down yonder.

Don't "Just Say No":  The Art of "N & N"

We all know the importance of "R & R" as a survival skill - "Rest and Recreation."  I think "N & N" is just as important:  the ability to say "No" and to "Negotiate."  If saying "No" is a challenge, try these steps:
1. Empathize.  Show you understand the importance of the other person's request:  "I know there is a cutoff date on this contract."
2. Be Concise.  Briefly explain your "No."  Don't over talk as you appear ambivalent or defensive.  If necessary, patiently repeat your message.  Remember, people don't like to hear "No."
3. Make An Offer.  After asserting what you can't do, affirm what you can do or can provide.  By using these three positive steps you can say "No" without being negative. 

Remember, "A firm 'No" a day keeps the ulcers away and the hostilities too."  Words to also help you…Practice Safe Stress!
 

Readers:

Subj:  Investment Terminology
From: MDodick

Here are some new investment terminology guidelines
for troubled times.

_____________________________

CEO: chief embezzlement officer.

CFO: corporate fraud officer.

NAV: normal
Anderson valuation.

P/E: parole entitlement.

EPS: eventual prison sentence.

BULL MARKET: A random market movement causing an investor to mistake himself for a financial genius.

BEAR MARKET: A 6 to 18-month period when the kids get no allowance and the wife gets no jewelry

MOMENTUM INVESTING: The fine art of buying high and selling low.

VALUE INVESTING: The art of buying low and selling lower.

P/E RATIO: The percentage of investors wetting their pants
as the prices fall.

BROKER: What my broker has made me.

"BUY, BUY": A flight attendant making market recommendations
as you step off the plane.

STANDARD & POOR: Your life in a nutshell.

STOCK ANALYST: Idiot who just downgraded your stock.

STOCK SPLIT: When your ex-wife and her lawyer split your assets equally  between themselves.

FINANCIAL PLANNER: A guy who actually remembers his
wallet when he runs to the 7-11 for toilet paper and cigarettes.

MARKET CORRECTION: The day after you buy stocks.

CASH FLOW: The movement your money makes as it disappears down the  toilet.

WINDOWS 2000: What you jump out of when you're the sucker that
bought Yahoo @ $240 per share.

YAHOO: What you yell after selling it to some poor sucker for $240 per share.

NSTITUTIONAL INVESTOR: Past year investor who's now locked up in a nuthouse

PROFIT: Religious guy who talks to God

 


SUBJ:  Playing It Safe
From:  MDodick

An Aussie who watched Mel Gibson's movie "The Passion" is inspired to take his wife and her mother to Israel to see the places where Jesus lived and died.  On vacation his mother-in-law dies.  An undertaker in Tel Aviv explains that they can ship the body home to Sydney at a cost of $10,000 or the mother-in-law could be buried in Israel for US$500.
The man says, "We'll ship her home."
The undertaker asks, "Are you sure? That's an awfully big expense and we can do a very nice burial here."
The man says, "Look, 2000 years ago they buried a guy here and three days later he rose from the dead. I just can't take that chance."
 


Mark Gorkin, LICSW, "The Stress Doc" ™, is a keynote and international/Celebrity Cruise Lines motivational speaker, psychotherapist, syndicated writer, and author of his new book, Practice Safe Stress:  Healing and Laughing in the Face of Stress, Burnout & Depression and The Four Faces of Anger:  Transforming Anger, Conflict and Rage Into Inspiring Attitude and Behavior.  He was the keynote speaker for the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM)--Maryland state chapters at their 2004 Leadership Conference.  The Doc, AOL's "Online Psychohumorist," is a training and OD Consultant for numerous companies, associations and government agencies.  Interviewed by the BBC and Biography magazine, Mark has a multi-award-winning,
USA Today Online "HotSite" -- www.stressdoc.com .  The site was selected as workplace resource in a National Public Radio feature on "Bad Bosses."  For more info, email stressdoc@aol.com or call 202-232-8662.

(c)  Mark Gorkin  2004
Shrink Rap Productions

 

 Heads Up:

OCT/NOV Programs

1. Churchill Hotel.  One hour Stress and Team Building program for sales staff

2. Estrin Paralegal Conference.  One hour featured speaker; Stress and
Team Building program; Atlanta; Stress and Time management Programs for Alston Bird, Atlanta.

3.
Montgomery County Dept. of Housing.  One hour Managing Anger and Difficult People program
 


Offerings:

1. Training/Marketing Kit:
Want to strengthen your ability to lead or market a stress workshop or any kind of speaking/training program?  Consider the Stress Doc Training/Marketing Kit, which includes both "how to" manual, 20-minute highlights video, and articles, as well as the opportunity for phone coaching.  For more info: Training/Marketing Kit http://stressdoc.com/kitbook.htm or email.
 


2. Practice Safe Stress CD
This 30-minute audio CD is divided into four sections:

Section I:  The Four Stages of Burnout
1. Physical, Mental & Emotional Exhaustion
2. Shame & Doubt
3. Cynicism & Callousness
4. Failure, Helplessness & Crisis

Section II:  Three Steps to Burnout Recovery
(based on the Stress Doc's own rehab from burnout)
1. Good Grief
2. Four "R"s of Rehabilitation & Rejuvenation
a) Four "R"s -- Running, Reading, Writing and Retreating
3. Transition & Diversification
a) letting go and shaking up your work-life puzzle and paradigm

Section III:  Two Burnout Prevention Strategies

A. Natural SPEED
a) Sleep, Priorities, Empathy, Exercise & Diet

B. Four "C"s of Psychological Hardiness -- based on research with former AT&T execs
a) Commitment, Control, Change & Conditioning

Section IV:  Two Shrink Raps (TM)

A. Stress Doc's Stress Rap
B. Double-edged Depression

Price:  $15
 


3.  Stress Doc Books:

a) Really Hot:  The Paperback Version of Practice Safe Stress:

Practicing Safe Stress:  Healing and Laughing in the Face of Stress, Burnout, & Depression; Stress Doc Enterprises

Published:  2004; Pages:  372

Price:  $20 + $4.95 priority shipping in US; $3.95 in Metro, DC area; $7 in Mexico and Canada; other international destinations to be determined

Or, download: The Stress Doc's Store Front: 
  www.stressdoc.com

Ebook Price:  $15

Practice Safe Stress tackles the "Toxic-Traumatic Trio" -- stress, burnout, and depression.  Learn practical and playful, inspiring and insightful strategies for transforming these toxins into life-affirming energy, creative focus, and goal-achievement.  Bringing a personal, professional, and organizational perspective, the book is alive with imaginative language and memorable "how to" ideas for:

§ Understanding the "Four Stages of Burnout," the "Erosive Spiral"
§ Rebuilding your fire and developing "Natural SPEED"
§ Achieving liberation through "Emancipation Procrastination"
§ Reducing conflict as a healing or motivational "psychohumorist" ™

There are satirical essays on "lean-and-MEAN" managers and on mismanaged downsizings.  Learn to "laugh in the face of layoffs" and ponder the possibility of "Van Gogh, Prozac, and Creativity."  The Stress Doc also shares his his own trials, errors, and triumphs in battling the "Toxic Trio."

Safe Stress provides many discrete "Top Ten" lists and "strategic tips" essays useful as educational/informational handouts.  To quote the Internet Newsroom:  Your Guide to the World of Electronic Factgathering:  "The most outstanding feature…is his 'psychohumor' essays.  Always witty, thought-provoking, and helpful."  With this easy-to-follow, fast-paced, and fun health and wellness guide, you'll return often to Practice Safe Stress.
 


b) The Four Faces of Anger:  Model and Method
Transforming Anger, Rage and Conflict Into Inspiring Attitude and Behavior


The "Four Faces of Anger" presents an elegantly simple yet intellectually powerful model that will challenge your beliefs about anger -- both regarding its range of emotion and its potential for positive communication.  The book is a dynamic blend of popular psychohumor articles, essays, case examples and short vignettes, as well as Stress Doc Q & As and even "Shrink Rap" ™ lyrics.  You will gain ideas and tools, skills and techniques for personal control, playful intervention and conflict mastery.  Learn to:

Ø Identify self-defeating styles of anger and violence-prone personalities
Ø Transform hostility and rage into assertion and passion
Ø Confront directly or disarm outrageously critics and (passive) aggressors
Ø Bust the guilt not burst a gut
Ø Prevent emails from becoming e-missiles

And finally, his years as a multimedia psychotherapist and as a Stress and Violence Prevention Consultant for the US Postal Service yield a survival and spiritual mantra at the heart of the "Four Faces of Anger":

Seek the higher power of Stress Doc humor…May the Farce Be With You!

Published:  2004; Pages:  114

Paperback:  $23.95 (includes shipping and handling)
E-Book:  $15

 


c) Paper Book -- Truly on the Cutting Edge

From Stress Brakes and Shrink Rap to Safe Stress and Cool Moon Cats:
The Wit and Wisdom of the Stress Doc, Stress Doc Enterprises, 1995


A 90 page compilation of my former syndicated radio essays, pioneering songs in the field of psychologically humorous rap music -- "Shrink Rap" Productions - a creative visualization poem and other humorous lyrics/poems. "Stress Brake" radio essays are short (300 words), fast-paced and witty, covering such topics as stress, burnout, anger and conflict resolution, time management, creativity, men's and women's issues, romantic relationships, codependency, etc. (They make excellent fillers for newsletters.)

Price: $20 (which covers priority postage and handling)
 


To purchase books and/or tape, make check payable to:  Mark Gorkin

Send check to:

Mark Gorkin
Stress Doc Enterprises
1616 18th Street, NW  #312
Washington, DC 20009-2542

Questions?  Call 202-232-8662 or email stressdoc@aol.com

 


4. Chat Group:
Stop by my AOL/Digital City Shrink Rap (TM) and Group Chat DC Debate Tuesdays, 9:30-11pm EST
DC Support Chat (Alas, only for AOL members.)
 


Mark Gorkin, LICSW, "The Stress Doc" ™, is a keynote and international/Celebrity Cruise Lines motivational speaker, psychotherapist, syndicated writer, and author of his new book, Practice Safe Stress:  Healing and Laughing in the Face of Stress, Burnout & Depression and The Four Faces of Anger:  Transforming Anger, Conflict and Rage Into Inspiring Attitude and Behavior.  He was the keynote speaker for the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM)--
Maryland state chapters at their 2004 Leadership Conference.  The Doc, AOL's "Online Psychohumorist," is a training and OD Consultant for numerous companies, associations and government agencies.  Interviewed by the BBC and Biography magazine, Mark has a multi-award-winning, USA Today Online "HotSite" -- www.stressdoc.com .  The site was selected as workplace resource in a National Public Radio feature on "Bad Bosses."  For more info, email stressdoc@aol.com or call 202-232-8662.

(c)  Mark Gorkin  2004
Shrink Rap Productions