The Stress Doc Letter
Cybernotes from the Online Psychohumorist
SEP 2000, No. 1, Sect. 2
Designing a Receptive and Reflective Incubation Vacation
The Stress Docs Five Prescriptive Interventions
5. Practice "The Four Rs for Rehabilitation and
Rejuvenation." The challenge of removing yourself from a chronic
environmental stress ambiance is not simply one of escaping to a slower pace.
When you finally succumb to mind-body exhaustion you dont have much choice.
Initially, though, the challenge is withdrawing from the "always on"
state of adrenaline habituation. You crave excitement and action. For many
stress junkies, being quiet feels like screaming emptiness, stultifying boredom
or morbid melancholy. Moderate physical conditioning can help in recovery,
though compulsive exercise may simply be replacing one Type A biochemical
addictive rush for self-medication and consciousness numbing. The tip off: when
you are forever driven by faster and faster times and longer and longer
Discovering peace and fulfillment through a quietly observant mode of
"being" not just active "doing" is often the key to a
"Receptive and Reflective Incubation Vacation." Here are "Four
R"s for Rehabilitation and Recovery":
a. Reading. A wonderful conduit for the transition between doing and being is
reading. Whether its a book that helps you understand your "brain
strain" or one that helps you laugh at frustrations, flaws and foibles (and
Practice Safe Stress with the Stress Doc: The Art of Managing Stress, Burnout
and Depression by AdviceZone.com, Fall 2000, will help you do both) reading
provides nurturance and stimulation.
Remember, so often exhaustion is less a sign of failure and more that you
gave yourself away. Reading enables you to give to yourself while keeping your
mind engaged (unlike so much of mind numbing television). And with reading its
easy to pause and reflect
which leads to the second "R & R"
b. Ruminating. Thinking deeply and intently, being "Reflective," is
obviously a mind function. However, the "Receptive" part of our
"R & R" process, the way of "being open" and
"taking in" (think of most of the senses) has both abstract and
concrete, mind-body potential. For example, according to Rogets Third
International Thesaurus, "ruminate" nicely captures the
complementarity between mind and body with its two categorizing words:
"consider" and "chew." Synonyms for consider: contemplate,
speculate, reflect, ponder, weigh (a mind-body connector, perhaps) meditate,
muse and brood. Selections for chew are fewer but more physically onomatopoetic:
masticate, bite, munch and gnaw.
There is holistic wisdom to be gained from ruminating upon, from tuning in to
your mind and body. Perhaps this is why we often have insights in the shower (in
addition to having slept on the problem). Nothing like a fresh perspective.
Actually, for me one incubation vacation mode inducing luxury is taking a hot
bath. Several dualities are encountered and transcended in this transitional
space, one that may well hearken back to infancy and childhood: sensate
awareness-hypnotic-like reverie, pain-pleasure both the temperature of the
water and heightened sensitivity to tensions in the body all within a
primal, seemingly timeless womb-like gestalt that momentarily transmutes an
angst-driven state into a soothing and quiescently brooding background trait.
So "R & B" Ruminating and Bathing can modulate your
rhythm, is definitely good for the blues and enables getting in touch with your
genuine relaxation/tension baseline levels. Hydrotherapy, if you will, provides
nurturance and stimulation and, as with reading, creates a space for further
physical and psychic self-exploration. And once rejuvenation is underway,
another sensory medium for rehabilitation and recovery awaits.
c. Writing. Personally, the genesis of soulful, creative writing invariable
begins with exhaustion and then allowing my psyche to lie fallow while seeding
some perplexing data and brooding upon the heart-and-mind field. This
underground and emotionally charged seed is gnawed and plowed, gardened and
pondered. Memories are awakened. Recovered or recreated memories are a
wellspring for helping ideational seeds percolate upward. These historical
psychic constructions potentially provide sustenance for concepts and imaginings
trying to survive self-doubt or analytic scrutiny. As has been frequently noted,
art is often a fiction that allows us to better grasp essential truth. An
immediate example... while playing in my writers sketch book, I suddenly
recall the stages of the creative process studied years ago as a doctoral
student. This recollection then catalyzed the parallels between the
aforementioned stages and planting and germinating an amorphous, tender
conceptual seed into a creative seedling.
With fits and starts, ebbs and flows, excitements and frustrations, and
continually reworking both ground and context overt tentative ideas and
subterranean psychic stirrings incubate. Then with persistence, patience and
luck these embryonic musings and percolating seedlings finally break the planes
of unconsciousness, fleeting imagery and intangible abstraction. Memory, dream
content and newly discovered conceptual connections fructify the inner and outer
mindscape. Now the focused and free associative writing path further prunes and
sculpts and diversifies our creative offshoots.
A heart and mind that can brave and withstand the exhaustive-creative storm,
eventually returning with new connections and perspective not only exercises and
integrates the logical and the analogical, the left and right brains. Grappling
with chaos, then infusing vague and vulnerable ideas with poetic sounds, rhythms
and images transforms helplessness, withdrawal and retreat into an "R &
R" haven for cultivating "bi-hemispheric peace of mind." Perhaps
most vital, the imaginative and integrative writer has evolved a parallel
process for recovering vital energy and rejuvenation. Despite its turbulence,
the generative process is eventually healing for the mindscape.
d. Reframing. Quiet detachment and meditation especially in conjunction with
the ebb and flow of free associative and focused, emotional and analytical
journaling and soulful writing, fosters reexaminaion of ones brain strain and
existential conundrum -- past, present and future. This exhaustion to
rejuvenation dynamic may be likened to a grief process that opens Camus'
"corners of the possible." For example, my back injury, which
unexpectedly surfaced early during a recent vacation, was productively
reevaluated or reframed as, "an opportunity for discovering the soul of
relaxation." (See my August 2000 essay, "Back to Reality and
Relaxation: R & R for Healing Body and Brain Strain.")
"Rationalization," you say. Perhaps, but it allows for a fresh and
fruitful conception of a set of person-situation events and behavioral
possibilities. In fact, research affirms that the ability to grieve and conceive
conflict and trauma as requisite growing pain experience is a powerful
adaptational skill for both individuals and organizations. As the following
quotes reveal, when one can reframe poignantly or playfully salutary mind-body
effects may range from the sublime to a sanity-preserving equanimity:
Who better than the humanitarian, writer and perceptual pioneer, Helen
Keller, to extol the importance of transforming darkness or heaviness into
lightness and enlightenment: "The world is so full of care and sorrow that
it is a gracious debt we owe to one another to discover the bright crystals of
delight hidden in somber circumstances and irksome tasks."
Or French poet and author, Anatole Frances lighthearted self-effacing
observation that sheds light on how we are more receptive to a serious message
when its gift-wrapped with humor or absurdity. Pondering his reflection on
his 75th birthday, France declared: "Mirrors just arent what they used
Five strategic interventions have been proposed for "Designing a
Receptive and Reflective Incubation Vacation": 1) Listen to Your Body, 2)
Quiet the Mind, 3) Be with Nature, 4) Seek Solitude in a Wired Web-World and 5)
Practice "The Four Rs for Rehabilitation and Rejuvenation"
Reading, Ruminating, Writing and Reframing. Actually, whatever the means for
quietly recovering energy, reviving optimism and revitalizing curiosity, your
incubation vacation encourages tackling old demons and self-defeating habits.
You now can rejoin he fray, serener and wiser. You are ready to surmount
external barriers and self-imposed blocks while forging uncertain yet
potentially fertile pathways and visions. Allow a parting quote from my article,
"Creative Risk-Taking: The Art of Designing Disorder":
Errors of judgment or design rarely confine one to incompetence. These more
like signify inexperience or exhaustion; perhaps even boldness. Our so-called
failures may be channeled as guiding streams (sometimes raging rivers) of
opportunity and experience that ultimately broaden -- widen and deepen -- the
risk-taking passage. If we can just immerse ourselves in these unpredictable yet
Words surely to help you reach new heights and depths with "R &
R" and to allow you to
Practice Safe Stress!
Reader's "Higher Power of Humor" Section
Continuing a relationship theme, two submissions on love: first the fantasy
then the reality (I think).
Kids and Marriage -- Children's Responses From: We4and
1) How Do you Decide Who to Marry?
You got to find somebody who likes the same stuff. Like, if you like sports,
she should like it that you like sports, and she should keep the chips and dip
-Alan, age 10
No person really decides before they grow up who they're going to marry. God
decides it all way before, and you get to find out later who you're stuck with.
-Kirsten, age 10
2) What is the Right Age to Get Married?
Twenty-three is the best age because you know the person FOREVER by then.
- Camille, age 10
No age is good to get married at. You got to be a fool to get married.
- Freddie, age 6
3) How Can a Stranger Tell If Two People Are Married?
You might have to guess, based on whether they seem to be yelling at the same
- Derrick, age 8
4) What Do You Think Your Mom and Dad Have in Common?
Both don't want any more kids.
- Lori, age 8
5) What Do Most Peole Do On a Date?
Dates are for having fun, and people should use them to get to know each
other. Even boys have something to say, if you listen long enough.
- Lynnette, age 8
On the first date, they just tell each other lies, and that usually gets them
interested enough to go for a second date.
- Martin, age 10
6) What Would You Do On a First Date that Was Turning Sour?
I'd run home and play dead. The next day I would call all the newspapers and
make sure they wrote about me in all the dead columns.
- Craig, age 9
7) When Is It Okay to Kiss Someone?
When they're rich.
- Pam, age 7
The law says you have to be eighteen, so I wouldn't want to mess with that.
- Curt, age 7
The rule goes like this: If you kiss someone, then you should marry them and
have kids with them. It's the right thing to do.
- Howard, age 8
8) Is It Better to Be Single or Married?
It's better for girls to be single but not for boys. Boys need someone to
clean up after them.
- Anita, age 9
9) How Would the World Be Different If People Didn't Get Married?
There sure would be a lot of kids to explain, wouldn't there?
- Kelvin, age 8
10) How Would You Make a Marriage Work?
Tell your wife that she look pretty, even if she looks like a truck.
- Ricky, age 10
Jack & Jill From: email@example.com
Jack was going to be married to Jill, so his father sat him down for a little
fireside chat. He says, "Jack, let me tell you something. On my wedding
night in our honeymoon suite, I took off my pants and handed them to your mother
and said, 'Here, try these on' So she did and said, 'These are too big, I can't
wear them.' So I replied, 'Exactly. I wear them.' Ever since that night we have
never had any problems."
"Hmmm," says Jack. He thinks that might be a good thing to try, so
on his honeymoon Jack takes off his pants and says to Jill, "Here, try
So she does and says, "These are too large, they don't fit me."
So Jack says, "Exactly. I wear the pants in this family and I always
will, and I don't want you to ever forget that."
Then Jill takes off her pants and hands them to Jack and says, "Here,
you try mine on." So he does and says, "I can't get into your
So Jill says, "Exactly. And if you don't change your attitude...you
Seek the Higher Power of Humor: May the Farce Be with You!
Mark Gorkin, LICSW, "The Stress Doc," is the Internet's
and America Online's "Online Psychohumorist". An experienced
psychotherapist, "The Doc" is a nationally recognized speaker, and
training and OD consultant specializing in Stress, Anger Management,
Reorganizational Change, Team Building and HUMOR! An expert advisor for
www.AdviceZone.com and iVillage/allHealth, his writings are syndicated by
iSyndicate.com and appear in a wide variety of online and offline forums and
publications, including AOL/Online Psych and Business Know How, Mental Health
Net, 4Therapy.com, WorkforceOnline, HRHub.com, SelfhelpMagazine.com, Financial
Services Journal Online, CONVENE (The Journal of the Professional Convention
Management Assn.), OpportunityWorld and Counsel ing Today. Recently, he has been
quoted and/or featured in such publications as Cosmopolitan Magazine, Bloomberg
Report/News, Forbes Magazine, FoxNews.com, Dallas Morning News and The
Washington Flyer. The Doc also leads his national "Shrink Rap and Group
Chat" for AOL/Digital City and WebMD.com. Check out his USA Today Online
"Hotsite" Website -- www.stressdoc. com . For info on his workshops or
for his free newsletter, email stressdoc@a ol.com or call 202-232-8662. Summer
2000, look for Practice Safe Stress with the Stress Doc, published by
(c) Mark Gorkin 2000 Shrink Rap Productions