Stress Out

You GUYS. I am so stressed. It’s National Stress Awareness Month, and I’m already behind.

I mean, I’ve already started celebrating by overthinking, making endless to-do lists, worrying about things I can’t control, and running through scenarios that will never happen. But it’s too little too late. Or maybe it’s too much too soon? Either way, I’m stressed that I’m not giving National Stress Awareness Month its due.

Of course, all of this extra stress has motivated me to examine ways to manage stress, so I present to you, in no order whatsoever, The Stress Test: Kathy’s Easy Tips for Avoiding, Dealing With, or Pretending to Deal with Stress®.

Tip #1: Tell your dog what’s troubling you. Or your cat. Or your parrot. They’re great listeners and rarely offer unsolicited advice. (Although don’t count on your parrot to keep its beak shut.) Don’t have a pet? Talk to someone else’s at random and tell the owner that it’s TOTALLY FINE and you’ll only be a moment.

Tip #2: Have some extra coffee. Then a little more. Push right past Alert and Productive to Shaky and Vaguely Nauseated.

Tip #3: Take time to meditate. Quiet your mind so that you can really focus on that embarrassing incident in fourth grade or wonder if you left the curling on.

Tip #4: Behind on a writing or work deadline? Let everyone know. Early. Often. Loudly. They’ll show their appreciation by slowly backing away—maybe while handing you a snack.

Tip #5: Get in some exercise. Hand-wringing. Picking the skin at your thumbs. Sighing loudly. All work to raise your blood pressure.

Tip #6: Eat right. For me, that involves strawberry Pop-Tarts paired with boxed pinot noir.

Tip #7: Blow off some steam, preferably over that extra cup of coffee in Tip #2.

Tip #8: Binge-watch things that make you smile, laugh, chuckle or chortle. A recent fave of mine: Cunk on Earth.

Tip #9: Kick back with some nice, relaxing murder. In a book, that is. You can escape to an English seaside, procure fabulous recipes, and make new (imaginary) friends, all while playing armchair detective. Chances are, the culprit won’t escape, but you will as you dive deeper in the pages.

Tip #10: Keep everything in perspective. You are strong. You are amazing. You are loved. You will get through this.

What are your go-to stress management techniques, my friends? Or what oft-touted tips don’t work for you?

47 thoughts on “Stress Out

  1. Stress is a physiological condition linked to fight or flight. You may not even be aware that you’re stressed, or be able to anything about it other than eliminate the stressor. If someone points a loaded gun at you, the only sure cure is to get out of proximity to the barrel. Well, there is one other…

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  2. Well, one of the things I’ve been doing lately is when the thinking / feeling overload happens, is to try to disassociate from it by looking at the feeling / thought, and as I do so, say, there is anxiety (rather than I am anxious), or there is fear / anger/ there are memories, fantasies etc. I saw a YouTube video by Eckhart Tolle on this, and am finding it most useful. Walking the dogs is good, getting tucked into a novel is also very good 😊

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  3. My go to stress relievers are reading or watching one of my favorite programs. Sometimes I’ll go in the pool for some exercise and then sit and dry off by the pool, reading and watching the birds. Sometimes my 2 cats join me in the bird watching.

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  4. Wow, I started National Stress Month off on the wrong foot. But I’m okay now. I think.

    I’m all for watching mindless TV (rewatching of Marvel movies anyone?) and doing color by number on my iPad. I used to take long walks in the woods, but I can’t do that these days. Stupid knee.

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  5. Brilliant, Kathy! My go-to technique to de-stress? Take naps. Lots of them. For as long or short of duration that you want/need. I have found maintaining an unconscious state is effective in avoiding the unpleasantness of reality. I think this is a sign I’m also part cat.🐱

    Liked by 3 people

      1. Full disclosure, I’m not a napper. But I heard once to get those “power naps” you should drink a cup of coffee, then hit the bed (setting a timer for 20 min). When you wake up, it’ll be enough to jumpstart you and then the coffee kicks in. Don’t know for sure, but it has truthiness to it!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I don’t know the perfect nap length. But a I do know anxiety is exhausting! So I’ll continue researching naps, as well!


  6. Wait… no one sent the memo that it’s National Stress Month! Now I’m behind too! *runs in circles*
    Coffee- check
    Diet Dr. Pepper Strawberries and cream- Check
    French fries- check
    Original Goldfish Crackers- Check
    *sigh* all will be fine…

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  7. Okay, so here’s my #1 Stress Reduction Program: Read any and all blog posts by Kathy Valenti, STAT! I’m in an online focus session right now with a group of authors (we all work together in silence, keeping each other accountable), and I was just informed I left my mic on (there’s always that person, sigh). Everyone (this is an international group) heard me chortling at this great list and wanted in! I seem to be stressing more and more lately–mostly re: reading articles about how stress adversely affects your health if you don’t kill it immediately. Thanks, Kathy!!! xo

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  8. Yesterday I bought a pound of chocolate & almonds for my office. I’m on my second cup of coffee since 6am … to get me through after lying awake at 3 in the morning to stress over real things I can’t control, don’t even get me started on the imaginary ones. I watched TV on my computer because there’s nothing like a good British crime show to balance out my stress level … I’m with you!

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  9. I thought #3 was “take time to medicate” and I was all in! In fact, just got back from the “pharmacy” where I bought some good cheese, doughnuts, and a bag of ALL LICORICE jelly beans. (I almost bought one for you too, but knew I’d eat it before I got to the post office.)

    And I love Cunk! Hilarious.

    When I’m feeling overwhelmed (like right now), I try to remember that all of my deadlines are imaginary. *sticks fingers in ears*

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    1. LOL time to medicate! And you know my deep and abiding love for licorice jelly beans. (They seem to propagate at Easter, which of course delights me.)

      Next time a deadline looms, ask yourself, “What would Cunk do/say?”

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Great post, Kathy! And thanks for encouraging tip #10!

    I have a bunch of stress relieving squishies, but I’m not sure they work that well. Although I do have a rain stick that I love using.

    Otherwise, I’m all in on hot tea, reading, and cozy blankets. But that napping advice from JC seems enticing…

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Kathy, this is an awesome list! My stress reliever? using the mantra Shirley MacLaine gave me once when I interviewed her. It was about fear of flying, but I use it everywhere: “I am having a safe, uneventful journey.”

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  12. Putting together a puzzle requires focus, the kind of focus that can calm your busy thoughts and reduce any feelings of stress and anxiety. As you work to find the right pieces, you are problem-solving and paying attention to little details which can improve your mental speed and perception. Another benefit is mood improvement as there is a great sense of satisfaction and accomplishment that comes with completing a puzzle! So do as I do and work a puzzle after you talk to your dog.

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    1. That is great, Madeleine! Makes such good sense that putting those problem-solving skills to work rather than puzzling things we can’t solve would help soothe our nerves. Time to break out the puzzles!


      1. Well, I did not write it. I just passed it on from Ravensburger Puzzles but it fits the bill. I worked 34 1000 piece puzzles last year–1 less than 2022. It does all of that for me. Also reading. Those are the two things that I do as often as possible. I actually read over 60 books last year, a real record for me. So many books, so little time. “Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read.”

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