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Monday, November 01, 2004

Dumb Stress Tips

The late twentieth century has been labeled the Age of Anxiety. This is a rather odd name, since in centuries past we certainly had a lot more to worry about, like surviving dangerous and debilitating work in assorted coal mines, sweat shops, and dingy factories, not to mention biannual plagues, wars, and natural disasters. Nowadays, we have a lot more time to worry about things, and we can do so in our leisure. Funny thing is, our problems are not that bad relative to times past. The problem is that we are prepared to think through the crises of life, but we often really can’t our finger on them because they are so relatively insubstantial. That’s stressful enough in itself, so we solve our confusion by attributing it to a mere result of the daily demands to sweat the small stuff, lots of small stuff. Stress represents all of those annoying little things that make life uncomfortable, and can’t be neatly attributed to a single cause, like death, taxes, or an alien invasion. They can make you uncomfortable, but are not so unbearable as to force you to shuck your wife and kids for a grass hut in Belize. It’s a type of bearable discomfort, a sort of unhappiness-lite. When bad times become such feather weights, so do their cures, and stress articles offer you a remedy in ten second cures which are as insubstantial and annoyingly saccharine as gum drops.

Stress tips generally end up in as filler in newspapers, or as lead articles in Bad Women’s Magazines. You generally won’t find them in Men’s Magazines, which neatly sum up stress as the price to conquest and accomplishment in business, sports, sex or politics. For men, the ultimate stress cure is putting other people under stress, and that contradiction is hardly grist for feel good articles nestled in between decorating tips and cake recipes.

The stress business amounts to a thriving industry which employs untold numbers of counselors, therapists, and self help gurus. But as with any good industry, to keep increasing the case load, you have to make people become more aware of all that stress they are encountering. Often, more stress needs to be manufactured so that the stress industry can grow more and more to help those in need. Of course, this new stress production is kept on the sly, but we can see how it is cranked out by simply perusing any number of Bad Women’s magazines. For example, a magazine titled something like ‘Today’s Boring Woman’ will show a lady how to make 25 layer cream pies and how to be independent, assertive and free, and on the next page counsel her on how to drop her weight, and how to attract and be servile to her man. Actually, these magazines give women stress by telling them two different things, and perpetuate the cycle of redundant advice which they obligingly include between their covers. But of course, if they provided good advice to begin with, they would
In keeping with
Dr. Mezmer offers the following bad stress tips

Dr. Mezmer’s Bad Stress Tips
  1. Try a tonic
  2. A study at the Duke-Nukem University in Placebo, N.C. found that homeopathy is a swell cure for anxiety disorders. To find a good nerve tonic, consult a licensed homeopath, or heteropath is your tastes aren’t that kinky. Ingredients for good tonics include catnip oils, essence of buffalo tripe, and at least three ounces of a good gin.

  3. Smile!
  4. Dr. P. T. Barnum of the Bailey Institute of Stress and Egress, says that smiling transmits nerve impulses from the facial muscles to the hippocampal-elephantoid complex in the limbo system, a key emotional centroplex in the brain, tilting the neurochemical balance towards calm, and your good sense towards empty. But don’t do it too long, since your face will lock up, and you will have to go to the emergency room smiling like the village idiot.

  5. Invent a rating system
  6. Using a scale of one to ten, with one being a minor inconvenience and ten being torn apart by wild boars, assign a number to each of your daily problems. You’ll soon not only recognize how insignificant your stress is, but how utterly trivial are the things that caused your stress to begin with. Thus armed with this transcendent knowledge, you will thus be inclined to abandon that formerly stressful job, wife, and family, and pursue more meaningful pursuits like Buddhist contemplation or Guatemalan tax law.

  7. Stop gritting your teeth.
  8. Stress tends to settle in certain places in our bodies, sort of like an emotional cellulite. The jaw is a likely place which stress ends up, and can cause a rather biblical degree of gritting and gnashing of teeth. Eventually this can give you that gummy bear smile that you found so endearing in your drooling great-grandfather. To prevent this, Dr. Emmit Lockjaw of the Danish College of Stressodontics recommends a dandy stress de-locator. Simply press your index fingertips on your jaw joint, clench your teeth, inhale deeply, and as you breathe out say "Why am I doing this useless exercise!?" Repeat a few times until you notice that your stress has moved to a new place, namely to your clenched fist that you are waving in the air as you recognize how stupid you were to have been conned into trying this dumb procedure.

  9. Make up a mantra
  10. When life’s a bear, you need an affirmation, a short, clear, coping statement that confirms once again your capabilities of self delusion. According to Dr. Phil Gates, a Certified Master of the Universe, the operating system that runs our brains sometimes displays a tiny little self critical voice, like an unwelcome error message, that crashes our best laid intentions. Dr. Gates suggests as a mental patch some calming words that sooth the spirit, and allow one take stock in a bullish attitude on life. Simply close your eyes, and silently repeat to yourself these life affirming words: Microsoft at 252! Microsoft at 252! Of course, like every good mantra, these words have a very special (and copyrighted) resonance with the universe, not to mention Wall Street. Thus, Dr. Gates asks that you send him five dollars so that you can properly register your mantra. If this mantra replaces one you are already using, Dr. Gates offers a mantra upgrade price of only $2.50.

  11. Write it down
  12. Paul Roach, President of the All American Stress Graduate School of Bonkers, N.Y., notes that writing provides perspective, a way of sorting out all that jumbled up self talk that is so full of misspellings and run on thinking. Simply divide a piece of paper into two parts. On the left side, list the stressors you can probably change, and on the right those you can’t. Tear off the right side of the paper, crumple it, and throw it away. This will signal to the right or reasoning side of your brain that you mean business, and won’t put up with unreasonable stressors. Of course your left or imaginative side of your brain will see this as a wonderful opportunity to let it all hang out since the right brain won’t likely get uptight. It will thus proceed to engage in stress free reveries that your right brain would never approve, and come home late at night intoxicated by its far off musings with other erotic thoughts of the evening.

  13. Schedule worry time
  14. Stressors are like squawling babies. They demand attention, and once they get it, poop all over you. If you pay attention to them, they get the connection, and then they will never stop getting on your nerves. You must treat your stressors like little babies, and discipline them by putting on a psychic feeding schedule that you determine. According to Dr. Price Waterhouse, author of Accounting for Stress, stressors are like babbling little debits that are best dealt with at a later time, and should be filed away in one of those countless little mental compartments in your cerebral noggin. Let’s say that your house is on fire, the IRS wants to audit you, and you just ran over the neighbor’s cat. Just say to yourself no time for that now! Simply file them away in your head, review them on a monthly basis when you can dispassionately review them, and then close them out. But remember, if your IQ is above 90, you are subject to an audit by your common sense, which will probably disallow this stupid procedure.
  15. Play some music
  16. A number of studies have demonstrated that music slows heartbeat, or in the case of heavy metal rock music, stops heartbeat. Music also increases mesomorphins, a pre-archaic chemical that primed our ancient ancestors (hairy two inch shrews.) to freeze and play dead upon spotting a velociraptor. Best bets for some soothing tunes are: Airing out my G-String, by J.S. Bach, Eine Kleine Nachtmusik (tr: I’m inclined to knock music) by W. A. Mozart, the adagio from Beethovens’s Erotic Symphony, the tranquil and uplifting final movement from Tchaikovsky’s Pathetic Symphony, and the slow languid tones of Johann Tacobel’s Canon for unaccompanied tuba.

  17. Be mindful
  18. Heighten your awareness by concentrating on an object. Consider a No.2 pencil. Look at it and admire its long shaft and soft conical tip. Feel it’s long, hard firmness as you thrust it in your hand. Caress the soft nub of the eraser against the folds of your skin. Very, very soon, you will either feel a surge of calm or other surges which will head you towards the bathroom.
  19. Dial a Friend
Sharing your problems with a friend shows you that they care. Of course, you’re more likely nowadays to get voice mail, or your friend will have caller ID and not answer the phone, or he may well be unlisted. Obviously, your friend may be reducing his own stress level by not talking to you. A good feature about this technique is that it will at least reduce someone’s stress, even if all you get for your trouble is an annoying busy signal.

11. Tend your garden

Nothing sooths frayed nerves like communing with nature. Tend to a houseplant, or at the very least, to that fungus growing around your tub. As you weed your garden, you will be cognizant of the plants=growth=cycle of life, which is a nice way of saying that you are merely a weed in the garden of life, and soon you will be pulled out by your roots by the Cosmic Mr. Green Jeans. So why worry?

  1. Knock your head
  2. Drs. Manfred Black and Richard Decker, authors of the Home Depot "Do it yourself manual for stress relief" suggest that when you feel you’re up against the wall, get up against the wall. Lean your head against a wall, move your head back about four inches. Now slam your head through it. When you regain consciousness, your stress will be gone, along with much of the short term memory which was responsible for that stress to begin with.

  3. Admit it
Each of us has unique individual stress signals that signal impending stress, like shoulder pain, shallow breathing, loss of temper, queasiness, etc. Unfortunately, these signals don’t just signal stress, they are stress, and thus leave us with the amazing revelation that stress predicts stress. Knowing these signals have as much perceptive acuity as predicting an earthquake because the earth is shaking, or wondering how a road sign in view that says ‘you are here’ knew how you were indeed here!
These unique signals, like hearing another news story about Monica and Bill, looking at the head light of an oncoming train, or trying to cash in your Indonesian treasury bills. You can do something about it now, like turn off the TV set, get off the tracks, or get into a better investment plan.

14. Check your kim chee
Kim chee is the 5,000 year old Korean art of pickled cabbage. Once ingested the kim chee flows throughout the body generating a high level of stress relieving RPM’s, with only moderate methane by products. The kim chee force is quite powerful, and needs to be vented periodically to maximizes its stress relieving properties. Just bend your knees to a squat position while keeping your upper body straight. Observe your breathing for a few seconds, and feel the surge of calm as the released kim chee vapors envelope you. Of course, when you do this make sure you are away from any co-workers, friends, or heat sources.

15. Fight Back
At the first sign of stress, people often complain, ‘What did I do to deserve this!’ the trouble is, feeling like a victim only increases your feelings of utter worthlessness, self loathing, and impending doom. In times like this, mere therapy just won’t do. Extreme situations require extreme remedies. So don’t wallow in self pity, fight back! Take hostages, make bomb threats, send angry e-mail!. Serene in the knowledge of the soothing powers of vengefulness, you can sustain your mellow vibes by relaxing in the woods while the feds hunt you down.
  1. Try an infomercial
  2. Dr. Zip Zipper, author of the book "Stress Management with No Money Down", notes that stress is often a result of recurring inconveniences that occur day after day. How often do we snap at the kids, kick the dog, and wallop our mate when our nerves are put on edge by the mere fact that we are terrible at dicing onions and making julienne fries? Clearly, your stress is but a fruit dehydrator or ginzo pasta steamer away. In his book Dr. Zipper demonstrates the healing power of infomercials, and how novel kitchen appliances, real estate investment schemes, and feel good self help seminars can eliminate those stressors in no time, and with no money down! Because you are likely too stressed to find the time to read, Dr. Zipper offers a 25 cassette version of his 90pp. Book for only 56 monthly payments of $9.99!

  3. Stimulate your pressure points
Acupressure stimulates the same points as acupuncture, but without feeling needled. According to Dr. Theopolis Goodyear of the Acupressure Institute, stress is a hydraulic process that can cause one to figuratively explode if one can’t find the little input valve that can let out all the hot air. By pressing down on the right bodily points, one can reduce this pressure to acceptable levels. Dr. Goodyear recommends that stress pressure should be checked at least once a month, since unchecked stress can wear you down, and may be vented improperly and prematurely wear out your welcome with other people.
The three major pressure points are:
The Third Eye : Look down (you’ll know him when you see him)
Mystic Mounds: (come in different cup sizes)
Heavenly Buns: glutinous maximus

Bring firm steady pressure on each point for three minutes. The pressure should cause a mild warm sensation, but take care that the feeling not turn sensational. This is particularly the case when all three pressure points are activated simultaneously, and may be delicately called ‘making babies’.

18 Visualize Calm

If you don’t feel calm, you’re just not looking for it. Calm is just a visualization away.
According to Millard Funkstein M. D., the author of ‘Healing Delusions’, suggests this following routine. Close your eyes, take three long slow breaths and visualize yourself loping through a meadow with a clutch of daffodils, kneeling by a babbling brook, or walking along a beach. Soon, your stress will fade away, and you will be immersed in a healing calm. A word of caution though. If you meet along the way long dead relatives, then you’re far beyond being relaxed! You’re dead! Dr. Funkstein thus recommends that unless you want to be permanently relaxed, don’t try this technique while you’re driving a car or using power tools.

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