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The Stress Doc Letter
Cybernotes from the Online Psychohumorist (tm)

January 1999, No. 2

Special Announcement: I'm heading off to Ithaca College tomorrow to lead a workshop on "Blending Creativity and High Performance." It's for eighty folks in their Student Affairs and Campus Life Division. Anyway, as I won't be back till late Monday, here's this week's edition. Enjoy!

Dear Readers. By popular demand, here is your gumbo of the sublime, the spicy and the ridiculous: a tasty mix of my writings along with humor jokes, lists and other sparkling entities that have descended from cyberspace. For more articles on a variety of psychology topics, try these links: www.stressdoc.com or <A HREF="www.stressdoc.com">STRESSDOC HOMEPAGE</A> and on AOL, Keyword: Stress Doc or <A HREF="aol://4344:972.doc.1264535.556723207"> The Stress Doc @ Online Psych</A> . And here's an AOL link with series of articles on burnout, downsizing, layoffs and career transition, <A HREF="aol://4344:972.docwork.1255066.562088752">The Stress Doc Interview @ Online Psych</A> . I've also started a bulletin board on my website - www.stressdoc.com . I encourage you to start a group dialogue. And, of course, I will stick my two cents in as well.

If you know others who would like to receive "The Stress Doc Newsletter," please pass their names along. (AOL subscription link <A HREF="aol://1391:43-61027">form driven mail</A> .) And, if you wish not to receive the newsletter, just email me with, "unsubscribe."

Most of us are looking for a quick burst out of the gate at the beginning of the New Year. Let me introduce a long-time favorite concept: the art of building "Natural SPEED." The specific focus is the small business owner, but I think SPEED has broader appeal. Last week I introduced the first two letter-concepts: "Sleep" and "Priorities." Today you get the rousing finale.

The Stress Doc, responding to a Small Business Association request for an article, draws on personal experience and passionate interest. The Doc targets stress for the small business person with a "how to" concept that blends high performance with high nurturance. Are you ready to cultivate Natural SPEED?

The Small Business Owner's Guide for "Practicing Safe Stress" Building Natural SPEED: Part II

Empathy. Whether it's receiving editorial feedback on an upcoming column or enlisting an ear for the retelling of the day's trials and tribulations, I need/we all need support at the burnout battlefront. A little TLC: tender loving criticism and tough loving care. Sometimes support doesn't only come from a smiling face or voice (or email buddy), but from a friendly place. Running a home/computer-based business (when not doing outside speaking and consulting programs) I need to get out of the cave. One ritual involves afternoon tea and scones at the local teahouse. I write. I network. (Okay, I also occasionally flirt)…It's a wonderful way to combine business and relaxation, if not pleasure. The change of scenery induces a new perspective and stirs the creative spirits.

I'm also a big believer in organized support. For several years, I participated in a weekly artists support group. Later I moved to a monthly social/networking group for the self-employed called, "Home Alone." Exploring computer graphics, the artists challenged me to overcome my computer virginity. The entrepreneurs opened my mind to the Internet and helped spark that pioneer spirit: "Go web young cyber-ite." Encountering folks in a structured setting outside your comfort zone can provide the best of both worlds -- support and challenge. Fireproof your life with intimacy and variety!

Exercise. You're psyched, you're focused, putting in those hours, hitting deadlines, managing those difficult customers and employees, not to mention squeezing in some quality family time. (Actually, this reminds me of a bank vice-president's definition of stress: "The fact that I can't beat my employees and I can't fire my children. ;-) Did someone say adrenaline? It's that hard driving, on the edge adrenaline rush that fires up so many. Unfortunately, frequent adrenaline bursts have nasty consequences, including elevated cholesterol levels and increased risk for cardiovascular complications. So in addition to pacing and prioritizing, physically working off excess adrenaline is critical.

Developing Psychological Hardiness

Let me illustrate, though this time, from the perspective of big industry. About fifteen years ago, during the breakup of Ma Bell, researchers studied many of the company's executives. They distinguished the execs who were healthfully weathering the turbulent transition from those individuals who started succumbing to stress-related conditions and medical illness. The former group, the "Psychologically Hardy," integrated "The Four 'C's" in their lives. These execs found time for work, family, friends, religion or spiritual nurturance and hobbies. They didn't put all their eggs, expectations or their egos in one basket. They had a "Commitment" to achieving some balance. The hardy bunch also had a realistic sense of "Control; they were able to grieve losses and could let go, step back and develop a new perspective and plan. They quickly embraced "Change." And the final, absolutely necessary factor for building hardiness was…regular physical exercise or "Conditioning." Thirty minutes, non-stop large muscle movement through brisk walking, jogging, swimming, weight training, jazzercise, etc. Vigorous and sustained exercise releases endorphins, the body's natural pain relievers and mood enhancers. It's less a runner's high and more a runner's calm.

Also, when everything's up in the air - you can't seem to close any projects or sales, to meet elusive deadlines - structured exercise provides a self- defined beginning and endpoint. There's a tangible sense of accomplishment and control. So walk around the mall if need be. Just don't stop at any store for thirty or forty minutes. Your heart, lungs, waist and pocketbook or wallet will thank you!

Diet. You can't stop during the day so you inject caffeine - coffee and sodas. Then you need those two drinks at night to unwind. Or cigarettes to both relax and stimulate you. Or potato chips to numb you. Whew! In an attempt to regulate your stress are you putting your system through a manic- depressive-like cycle? And the effects linger. Did you know that it takes eleven miles of non-stop jogging to burn off the saturated fat in a Big Mac, a shake and order of fries? "Did someone say, 'Yuck?'"

In addition to worries about Big Mac and cardiac attacks, what we eat influences our ability to generate and sustain energy for the long run. All those simple sugars and saturated fats don't just weigh you down; this stuff also enervates you physically and mentally. Substitute dried fruit and power napping over junk food snacking.

The Doc's Power Breakfast

Also, avoid big meals as much as possible; graze rather than gorge. Nutritionists suggest four or five small meals over three large ones. For a lean-and-keen meal, try my low fat, high complex sugar and protein breakfast smoothie. Mix these into the blender: three bananas, a handful of frozen raspberries and frozen peaches, half cups of orange and grape juice. Then add three heaping tablespoons of soy powder. (Health food stores will have soy powder.) Not only is the soy high in energy-boosting protein, but it gives your breakfast booster a thick, rich texture. I get four six-ounce servings. I shared my morning special with a client and his immediate association: "I should be drinking this on a tropical island." (Anything to get out of Washington, DC these days.) Oh yes, the loyal partner with my smoothie…one half of a toasted, naked bagel. (Definitely the title for my next book: "The Naked Bagel.")

In conclusion, understanding the stress-relieving and energy-enhancing power of healthy eating (and exercise) will definitely help you finish the race. Adding Natural SPEED to your daily operation is a vital, bottom line variable for landing in the small business owner's "Winner's Circle" while…Practicing Safe Stress!

To graceful and joyful adventures in the New Year!

The Stress Doc Newsletter The Higher Power of Humor Section...

The second section will consist of humor material that filters down from cyberspace. The first poem is a bit belated - post-holiday regrets - but is so cute I couldn't resist. The next joke may have you laughing uneasily in anticipation of the future. And finally, a delightful real life dictionary, especially for mothers.

Twas the Week After Christmas!! From: aba@callintl.com

'Twas the week after Christmas, and all through the house Nothing would fit me, not even a blouse.

The cookies I'd nibbled, the eggnog I'd taste At the holiday parties had gone to my waist.

When I got on the scales there arose such a number! When I walked to the store (less a walk than a lumber).

I'd remember the marvelous meals I'd prepared; The gravies and sauces and beef nicely rared,

The wine and the rum balls, the bread and the cheese And the way I'd never said, "No thank you, please."

As I dressed myself in my husband's old shirt And prepared once again to do battle with dirt---

I said to myself, as I only can "You can't spend a winter disguised as a man!"

So--away with the last of the sour cream dip, Get rid of the fruit cake, every cracker and chip

Every last bit of food that I like must be banished "Till all the additional ounces have vanished.

I won't have a cookie--not even a lick. I'll want only to chew on a long celery stick.

I won't have hot biscuits, or corn bread, or pie, I'll munch on a carrot and quietly cry.

I'm hungry, I'm lonesome, and life is a bore--- But isn't that what January is for?

Unable to giggle, no longer a riot. Happy New Year to all and to all a good diet!

The Bartender & The Lemon From: LSTREAKER

The local bar was so sure that its bartender was the strongest man around that they offered a standing $1000 bet. The bartender would squeeze a lemon until all the juice ran into a glass, and hand the lemon to a patron. Anyone who could squeeze one more drop of juice out would win the money. Many people had tried over time (weight-lifters, longshoremen, etc.) but nobody could do it.

One day this scrawny little man came into the bar, wearing thick glasses and a polyester suit, and said in a tiny squeaky voice "I'd like to try the bet." After the laughter had died down, the bartender said OK, grabbed a lemon, and squeezed away. Then he handed the wrinkled remains of the rind to the little man.

But the crowd's laughter turned to total silence as the man clenched his fist around the lemon and six drops fell into the glass. As the crowd cheered, the bartender paid the $1000 and asked the little man, "What do you do for a living? Are you a lumberjack, a weight-lifter, what?"

The man replied, "I'm an IRS Agent."

MOTHER'S DICTIONARY From: SWells1835

AMNESIA The condition that enables a woman who has gone through labor to have sex again.

DUMBWAITER One who asks if the kids would care to order dessert.

FAMILY PLANNING The art of spacing your children the proper distance apart to keep you on the edge of financial disaster.

FEEDBACK The inevitable result when the baby doesn't appreciate the strained carrots.

FULL NAME What you call your child when you're mad at him/her.

GRANDPARENTS The people who think your children are wonderful even though they're sure you're not raising them right.

HEARSAY What toddlers do when anyone mutters a dirty word.

TOP BUNK Where you should never put a child wearing Superman pajamas.

IMPREGNABLE A woman whose memory of labor is still vivid.

INDEPENDENT How we want our children to be as long as they do everything we say.

OW The first word spoken by children with older siblings.

Seek the higher power of humor...May the Farce Be with You!

And, of course...Practice Safe Stress!

Mark Gorkin, LICSW, the Stress Doc, a psychotherapist and nationally recognized speaker, trainer, consultant and author, is also known as AOL's and the internet's "Online Psychohumorist" ™. Check out his USA Today Online "Hot Site" website - www.stressdoc.com  and his page on AOL/Online Psych, Keyword: Stress Doc

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All five portal links can be shared with and are operational for both users of AOL and the Internet.

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(c) Mark Gorkin 1998 Shrink Rap Productions