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The Stress Doc Letter
Cybernotes from the Online Psychohumorist ™

AUG 2001, No. 1

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

Table of Contents

Heads Up: Paradigm Magazine, Howard U. TV, Dr Hurd Show; AOL/Digital City Chat

Stress Doc Q&A: The Endangered Director as "Stress Carrier"

Shrink Rap: Back to the Future: Reliving the Media Daze

Main Essay: "Stress Brake" Audio Script: Practice Safe Stress

Readers' Submissions: Female Sayings; Disabled Persons Newsletter Resource

Heads Up:

1. MediaExposure:

a) Two part-series on "Creative Rsk-Taking" in Paradigm Magazine, Spring and Summer 2001

b) One hour "Stress" taping with Howard University Television; will air in November,

c) Look for another audiostream interview with me and Dr, Michael Hurd in the next couple of weeks; the topic is based on my essay "Seven Self-Defeating Styles of Anger"; www.drhurd.com


(Email stressdoc@aol.com if you'd like to publish any essays, past or present, in your online or offline publication.)


2. Chat Group and Live Workshops

a) Stop by my AOL/Digital City Shrink Rap (TM) and Group Chat DC Support Chat, Tuesdays, 9:30-11pm EST DC Support Chat . It's a dynamic, lively, at times witty and always warm, thoughtful and supportive problem-solving group. We raise questions and share our ideas, hopes and experiences with each other.

Stress Doc Q & A: Work Stress

The Endangered Director as "Stress Carrier"

Q. A Director in our organization is under scrutiny and may be terminated in the next few months. This Director is aware of his possible termination and is now creating a very stressful environment for his employee. The director has told the employee on several occassions "They're going to fire me and give you my job. You do too good a job." The Director has created a strained relationship with this employee who is under stress over the entire situation. The employee has come to HR claiming he is under work related stress. How should this be dealt with?

A. Here are three critical steps. HR needs to quickly:

1) Meet with Employee. Get the employee's permission to confront the Director with his alleged statements to the employee. Assure the employee that HR will not tolerate any further threats or reprisals - subtle or otherwise. Also mention an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) or counseling option for the employee. (If your company doesn't have an EAP, I would pick up short-term stress counseling costs for the employee.)

2) Meet with Director. Have a one-on-one with the Director who is becoming a "stress carrier," I bet, for more than one employee. (For example, I wonder if he is trying to enlist allies to his cause?) Assess how the Director handles the employee's claims of verbal harassment? Does he deny making the alleged statements, or does he get defensive? Does he acknowledge any disruptive behavior? Ask the Director if he is under any stress at work or at home that might be affecting his work/managerial performance? (Obviously, if he is under scrutiny that is a stress factor. Can the Director understand that the issue is not whether this or any other employee might get his job; the issue is whether the Director is performing in a professional and productive manner.) Ask if he considered speaking with an EAP Counselor or outside therapist? I would give him a firm recommendation (and again cover the cost).

Firmly remind him that this kind of behavior, whether he acknowledges the problem or not, is unprofessional and unacceptable and will lead to disciplinary action.

3) Hold Joint Meeting. Set up a meeting with HR and the conflicted parties. If needed, bring in a mediation expert to facilitate the exchange. (The Stress Doc is rested and ready. ;-) Have both parties present their stories. If a negotiated understanding can be reached, then allow the parties to continue. Build in a follow-up in a week to ten days to se how they are doing. Also, let both parties know that either one call on HR or schedule an individual appointment with HR or the mediator if needed.


If an agreement cannot be reached or if conflict flares, I would transfer the employee until a final dispensation regarding the Director's status is made. If you believe the Director is still engaging in problematic behavior, quickly remove him from his managerial position. Tolerating such dysfunctional behavior will only undermine HR's and upper management's credibility with all employees. TLC - "Tender Loving Criticism and Tough Loving Care" - helps all…Practice Safe Stress!


Shrink Rap:

On the eve of recording a stress segment for a major software company, the Stress Doc reflects on his early days on New Orleans radio. Obsession with writing and recording pressure were the norm. What will it be like turning back the clock?


Back to the Future: Reliving the Media Daze

Who says, "You can't go home again"? Well, it may not quite mirror the heart palpitating mid-80s of knocking out in a half hour six 2-minute drive time "Stress Brake" essays with the WWL-Radio News Director in "The Big Easy," but these days home is where the net is.

One of the major global software companies, SAS, recently found my stressdoc.com home page. More specifically, a member of their Studio Productions department listened to the audio stream interviews on the site (scroll down; see blue Real.com icon on far right) and emailed about my participating in the production of a CD as well as a motivational audio stream broadcast for sales employees - "The Empower Hour." Up till now, they have used in-house HR and wellness experts.

After some brief negotiation, we agreed on a pilot: the Stress Doc will write and record a 3-minute stress tips piece. I head to Audiomaster, a local studio with whom SAS collaborates, next week. If everyone's happy, SAS flies me to its headquarters in the Research Triangle area of North Carolina to produce a bunch of "Stress Brake" segments. So I'm psyched returning to the radio hot seat.

Speaking of performance pressure, I can't resist sharing a humorous bit developed during my formative media days: the five key questions that reveal the common tension between performing for the media and performing for sex…Ooops, I mean sexual performance, of course. ;-):

1. Can you do it?

2. How good can you do it?

3. If you can't do it good, how well can you fake it?

4. How long can you last? And most important…

5. Will they want you to come back and do it again?

Well, it's taken almost fifteen years, but I'm back in the media saddle. Come to think of it, about three years ago I taped a brief "Holiday Blues" piece for AOL's Online Psych in a studio. And about three years before that, produced an audiotape of an original Tom Lehrer-like song on downsizing and restructuring called, "The Reorg Rag." (Now that was stressful - having to record and edit my own singing. Fortunately, the accompanying music was a wild cross between Western and polka. Maybe I'll try to find a tape and get my Webmaster to put it on our site.) Hmmm…when it comes to recording, maybe I'm not quite a "Born Again Virgin." But the butterflies are still putting on a daredevil air show.

Being candid, there are real differences between this SAS gig and my N'Awlins radio daze. And the differences are mostly in my head. Fifteen years ago, being a macho-creative man was paramount. Almost every script phrasing put my artistic and poetic license on the line. If a pun was good, ten were better. Talk about self-inflicted brain strain. I should have been reported to the metaphor, alliteration and aphorism abuse hotlines. Still, a lot of the stuff was clever…unpolished and overdone…but clever. Two memorable titles of essays come to mind, on burnout and procrastination, respectively: "Breaking Out of a Hell of a Shell or Don't Feel Too Sorry for Humpty Dumpty…He Needed to Hit Bottom" and "Don't Clock the Writer's Block or Premature Impatience Will Sow Creative Impotence."

There was a raw, outrageous innocence to the writing that, to some degree, has been tamed with some personal maturation and with greater experience as a scribe. I was both less and more self-conscious back then. When you don't know what you're not supposed to do, a lot of possibilities open up. Sure you get more chaff, but sometimes you also get more or richer quality wheat. At the same, being less assured of my abilities, I would obsess endlessly. Writing an imperfect draft and then revising and further developing the text was almost unheard of. Trying so hard for "one take" writing often disrupted the flow. Still there's wistfulness at recalling the hours spent pacing and writing in the Tulane Law Library.

Also, part of the writing pressure was getting to the point in about 250 words; less than two minutes in front of the mic. Of course, too many ideas and forced quips became jammed up hurdles in this recording race. The taping was invariably a major stress test. The SAS stint should be more relaxed. In fact, when asking whether we could go 3:30, my liaison said, "Sure, no problem." The time-driven WWL News Director would never have been so generous.

After all is said and done, who knows if I'll have truly gone home again? At least this essay has allowed some soulful reflection on my media writing and recording roots. While, for me, "The Big Easy" never was…I still "know what it means to miss New Orleans." So today's Main Essay provides some Stress Doc gumbo for the mind and body; a recipe blending past and present, seasoned with blood, sweat, tears, laughs and love. Words to help you...Practice Safe Stress!

Main Essay:

In response to a major IT company's request for a short stress audio program for sales professionals, the Stress Doc provides key motivational tips for managing time and managing stress: 1) structure and ritual, 2) a rejuvenating pit stop and 3) some "Couch Time." Enjoy his former fast-paced, pithy and punchy "radio" style.


Take a Stress Brake with "The Stress Doc" ™

Practice Safe Stress

It's the fourth quarter, time's running out. You know the expectations but there's that gap between current sales revenues and winning results. The goal line seems elusive. And with the economy like a tough away crowd, we're not just talking performance pressure, you're also grappling with stress!

I'm Mark Gorkin, "The Stress Doc," a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, international speaker and syndicated writer on stress and anger, organizational change and team building as well as America Online's "Psychohumorist" ™ with some tips to help you "Practice Safe Stress."

First, two powerful tools for managing stress and managing the time clock are structure and ritual, especially when they work with your natural biorhythm. For example, make the tough calls early if you're a morning person. But if you're not, and the calls can't wait, then block out a manageable period of time for intense concentration -- thirty or sixty minutes, for example. Also, try some inspiring background music - not just a jolt of caffeine - to get the juices flowing…Beethoven's Ninth - "Ode to Joy," "The Impossible Dream" and the theme from Rocky, come to mind. Okay, even "Who Let the Dogs Out" can work.

Back to structure and goal focus, carving out a set time for interviews, report writing and calls is challenging. When necessary, try this Stress Doc aphorism to set limits on frustrating distractions: "A firm 'No' a day keeps the ulcers away and the hostilities, too!" Shooting for that realistically high daily quota won't seem so daunting. And when hitting your target, build in some short term - ongoing or, at least, weekly - rewards, such as catching a movie, purchasing that CD or power tool you've been wanting, or getting in a round of golf.

Next, when moving in high gear around the sales track, think auto-racing champs: take that critical pit stop for preventing burnout or a blowout. And nothing beats physical exercise for rejuvenating your head and heart: a brisk walk or jog at lunch; maybe the "Y" for lifting weights or elevating your mind-body-spirit with Yoga. I'll even include a weekly massage as a reward, if not "exercise"? Or how about riding a bike or throwing a ball around with your kids at home.

Often overlooked, in addition to releasing those feel good, mood-enhancing chemicals sustained exercise allows you to generate your own beginning and endpoint for a tangible sense of accomplishment and control. Pretty darn critical when everything feels uncertain and up in the air. And nothing like swimming thirty laps, running a mile or two or just getting outside for some power walking to feel a tad virtuous. But seriously, most important is the growing optimism, faith and self-confidence upon seeing your commitment to a plan and, especially, upon seeing results from your task rituals and progressive exercise regimen. And with the right body-and-mindset, small structured steps will become bounding leaps towards sales success.

Finally, don't forget a little mutual chilling out time (or maybe a little heating up ritual) with your spouse or partner: some "Couch Time," even if only fifteen minutes of TLC - tender loving and laughing care. In addition to a good ear, at times we need to poke fun at some of those aggravating egos. And a hearty laugh can definitely help smooth out the battlefield bumps and bruises.

My formula for "Natural SPEED" - S-P-E-E-D - provides a fitting close:

S is for "Sleep." For the long run, sufficient rest is critical for being at your mind-body best.

P is for "Priorities." You can't do it all, all the time, and really do it right. Establish realistically high expectations, and then focus on key goals, skills and tasks.

E is for "Empathy." We all need a stress buddy; a supportive shoulder to help us maintain psychological balance when grappling with the lows and highs of selling.

E is for "Exercise." Enough said. Get started. And

D is for "Diet." An optimal level of energy boosting protein, complex carbohydrates, and grains along with cutting back on high fats and sugary junk foods will keep you "lean and keen."

So start walking this talk and you will begin to…Practice Safe Stress!

(c) Mark Gorkin 2001

Shrink Rap Productions

Readers’ Submissions:

Subj: Female Sayings...

From: dixiejazzberry@yahoo.com


This is the word we use at the end of any argument that we feel we are right about but need to shut you up. NEVER use fine to describe how a woman looks. This will cause you to have one of those arguments.


This is half an hour. It is equivalent to the five minutes that your football game is going to last before you take out the trash, so it's an even trade.


This means something and you should be on your toes. "Nothing" is usually used to describe the feeling a woman has of wanting to turn you inside out, upside down, and

backwards. "Nothing" usually signifies an argument that will last "Five Minutes" and end with a huffy "Fine."

GO AHEAD (with raised eyebrows):

This is a dare, one that will result in my getting upset over "Nothing" and will end with the word "Fine."

GO AHEAD (normal eyebrows):

This means "I give up" or "do what you want because I don't care." You will get a raised eyebrow "Go ahead" in just a few minutes, followed by "Nothing" and "Fine" and she will

talk to you in about  "Five Minutes" when she cools off.


This is not actually a word, but is still often a verbal statement very misunderstood by men. A "Loud Sigh" means she thinks you are an idiot at that moment and wonders why she is wasting her time standing here and arguing with you over "Nothing."


Again, not a word, but a verbal statement. "Soft Sighs" are one of the few things that some men actually understand. She is content. Your best bet is to not move or breathe,

and she will stay content.


This exclamation, followed by any statement, is trouble. Example: "Oh, let me get that." Or, "Oh, I talked to him about what you were doing last night." If she says "Oh"

before a statement, RUN, do not walk, to the nearest exit. She will tell you that she is "Fine" when she is done tossing your clothes out the window, but do not expect her

to talk to you for at least two days. "Oh" as the lead to a sentence usually signifies that you are caught in a lie. Do not try to lie more to get out of it, or you will get

raised eyebrows and "Go ahead" followed by acts so unspeakable that we can't bring ourselves to write about them.


This is one of the most dangerous statements that a woman can say to a man. "That's OK" means that she wants to think long and hard before paying you retributions for what ever it is that you have done. "That's OK" is often used with the word "Fine" and used in conjunction with a raised eyebrow. "Go ahead." At some point in the near future when

she has plotted and planned, you are going to be in some mighty big trouble.


This is not a statement; it is an offer. A woman is giving you the chance to come up with whatever excuse or reason you have for doing whatever it is that you have done. You have a fair chance to tell the truth, so be careful and you shouldn't get a "That's, OK."


A woman is thanking you. Do not faint; just say, "You're welcome."


This is much different from "Thanks." A woman will say, "Thanks A LOT," when she is really ticked off at you. It signifies that you have hurt her in some callous way, and will be followed by the "Loud Sigh." Be careful not to ask what is wrong after

the "Loud Sigh," as she will only say Nothing."


I am Sue, one of the Founders and Editors at Nightengales Medical Maddness Newsletter, and I wanted to let all of our members (and others) to know that I am putting together a NEW newsletter.

This newsletter will have loads of information for disabled persons, as well as their caregivers, family members, and friends.

Some examples of issues I will be discussing will be:

bulletAdvocacy groups,
bulletAssistive technology,
bulletBusiness resources for disabled persons,
bulletSpecial education information,
bulletEmployment resources,
bulletHousing (funding and accessibility),
bulletIndependent living,
bulletSome legal and media coverage,
bulletRecreation, and travel resources,
bulletTransportation issues,
bulletAdaptive equipment, and clothing,
bulletFoundations and agencies,
bulletServices throughout the states,
bulletADA information,
bulletDisability ‘rights’ issues,
bulletList’s of FDA new approved medications, as they come in,
bulletList’s of ‘ongoing’ studies.......

The list goes ON/ON…..I will provide a link for you to ask questions and I will do my best to list the question/answers on each issue.

This newsletter will not have images (pictures etc.). It will be strictly informative information and ‘links’ (HTML) to ‘web sites’ to help you in your searches.

If you are interested in receiving this newsletter please E-mail me at:





copyright 2001

Mark Gorkin, LICSW, "The Stress Doc" ™, is an internationally recognized speaker and syndicated writer on stress, anger management, reorganizational change, team building and HUMOR! The Doc was recently featured on CBS TV's Newspath segment -- Workplace Violence -- and in Biography Magazine. He is America Online's "Online Psychohumorist" ™ leading a chat group for AOL/Digital City --http://www.digitalcity.com/washington/stressdr . Check out his USA Today Online HotSite - www.stressdoc.com. Practice Safe Stress with the Stress Doc:The Art of Managing Stress, Burnout; Depression comes out in 2001. For more info, email stressdoc@aol.com or call 202-232-8662.


(c) Mark Gorkin 2001

Shrink Rap ™ Productions