Story Photo Challenge: Two for One

what-can-you-see_480(click to enlarge)

Is it just me or does the holiday season seem to be coming too fast this year? Along with the joy and blessings of the holidays comes the stress and anxiety of getting ready for them:~)

This is the reason I’m combining a short breathing meditation, along with a story photo picture. You get two for one:~)

The Breathing Mediation

Get comfortable in your chair. Uncross you legs if they’re crossed.

Take a deep breath.

And another.

Come on, really breath in and then let the air out slowly.

If you do this three times, I bet you’ll feel your shoulders drop.

Did you feel it?

Okay, let your head drop down and slowly roll your head around.

Stretch those neck muscles.

Take one last deep breath. Hold it for a second.

Let it out releasing all your worries and hassles.

Story Photo Challenge

Now that you’re relaxed, scroll back to the picture.

Feel free to click on to enlarge it.

Just let your eyes rest on the picture.

Are you starting to see “things?”

I hope so because this is your challenge.

What do you see in this picture?

If nothing jumps out at you, don’t despair…just move on to the Quickie Question.

Quickie Question

When you’re feeling stressed during the holidays, what helps you calm down?



Want to relieve stress? Have a good cry!

So SadAfter a tough and frustrating day, I found myself very restless. I knew I was upset, but I couldn’t seem to express it.

As I was sitting on my couch, my cat jumped up to cuddle. That’s all it took for the floodgates to open. Suddenly I was sobbing, which greatly annoyed my cat as she’s not so fond of damp fur.

To be honest, I’m not so fond of crying. I usually try to avoid it as my nose turns red and my eyes swell horribly. But there are times when it does seem to help.

There’s also scientific evidence that crying might actually be healthy for you!

Dr. William Frey, a biochemist, has been studying tears for many years, including what is called emotionally induced tears, like the ones I was producing on my couch. He’s written a book about his research called, Crying: The Mystery of Tears, in which he concludes that crying does have physiological benefits. He believes it relieves stress by washing bad chemicals out of our bodies via our tears.

While crying may be healthy, to cry or not to cry seems to be a cultural decision.

In the United States, crying is often seen as a weakness. In our society, it’s not a good idea to cry in public, as it makes people uncomfortable. In Japan, however, crying is quite “the thing” to do in public. In fact, “crying clubs” have become a popular craze in that country. These are places where people gather together, watch sad films and, you guessed it, cry!

I found this interesting as I once wrote a post about the benefits of laughter clubs. I guess a “crying club” could be seen as the polar opposite of a “laughter club.”  Unless you combine the two by laughing so hard you cry. But the point of both is to release stress. And there does seem to be scientific evidence that both crying and laughter can be stress-busters.

While I don’t plan on joining a crying club any time soon. What I can say is that I DID feel better after my sob fest. It was worth the red nose, puffy eyes, and the cat avoiding me for the rest of the day.

Therefore, if you’re feeling stressed out or upset, consider allowing yourself to have a good cry. It’s okay. Think of it this way, not only is “crying good for the soul,” it’s also evidently good for the body!

Severe Weather Warning: The Stress of Impact

In my previous post, you were waiting anxiously for severe weather to hit.

Now, it’s here in all its fury.  It’s a scary, uncomfortable time. Your stomach is churning and all you’re thinking about is when this will be over!

When severe weather is upon us, we experience weather stress.  Our bodies go into crisis mode.  Adrenaline starts to flow in reaction to the emergency situation. This helps us take action. We seek safety and protect ourselves and our family from the impact of the weather.

It’s after things calm down that weather stress begins to turn on us.  The adrenaline that helped us during, and immediately after, the severe weather may not go away.  So, even as flood waters begin to recede, stress levels can continue to rise.

This is when weather stress can be very dangerous.

Unfortunately, we often don’t realize what’s happening.  The crisis has passed.  Therefore, we may ignore our stress. That is until our normally calm and cool neighbor suddenly blows up in anger over something trivial or we find ourselves crying on the shoulder of a stranger for no particular reason.

Suddenly, we realize something’s not right.  We got through the worst of it, but our friends, family and others are still showing symptoms of severe weather stress.

What can we do?  Here are some tips that may help you, or people around you, cope more effectively with prolonged weather stress:

Acknowledge that feelings of irritability, sadness, anger and guilt are very common after a weather disaster.

Be patient with yourself and others.  People may not act normally after severe weather hits.  Like any crisis, this kind of weather causes emotional trauma.  Usually with time, this trauma heals itself.  If it doesn’t, seek out qualified help for yourself or encourage others to seek it.

Share your experiences with others.

Getting your feelings out about a weather disaster is very important.  It helps you feel more in control and less vulnerable. In addition, sharing what’s happened to you and hearing the stories of others, creates a feeling of togetherness in the weather crisis, which keeps you from feeling isolated.

Take good care of your physical condition.

Stress takes a BIG toll on your body.  Eat well and when it’s safe, find ways to exercise or get out of your house.  Even if you’ve got a lot of cleaning up to do, take time to relax and rest.  This can help relieve the affects of weather stress.

Help others in your neighborhood, community and town.

Assisting others in your community is a way to do something positive.  When you’re involved in helping someone else, you don’t have as much time to feel stressed about your situation.  In addition, sharing the work created by a weather disaster reinforces your sense of community.

Remember to laugh.

However incongruent it may seem to laugh, it’s actually good for you during a weather crisis.  Laughter is a wonderful stress buster.  It’s has been proven to reduce stress, lower blood pressure, improve the immune system and, in general, make you feel better.  So, go ahead and laugh and encourage others to do so too.

Severe weather is a fact of life.  When it hits where we live, there WILL BE weather stress.

However, just like we prepare our homes for severe weather, so too should we prepare ourselves emotionally for the impact of this weather. Recognizing weather stress and taking steps to alleviate it is the best way to keep it from overwhelming us.

Mini-Break, Take Me Away!

Calgon bath products used to have a commercial featuring a woman experiencing a very bad day. Each picture shows her becoming more and more agitated until she obviously can’t take it anymore and cries the famous line, “Calgon, take me away!” After this, we see her in a bath obviously calm and relaxed.

For too many of us, our work days and even our family lives have become so hectic that our bodies constantly ache with tension and our children think we morphed into Oscar the Grouch. At these times, like the woman in the commercial, we too want to cry, “Calgon, take me away!”

While most of us can’t take a bath in the middle of day, we can allow our bodies and minds relax by incorporating mini-breaks into our day. These breaks don’t have to be long; even a few minutes can make all the difference. So, what can you do during a mini-break? Here are some ideas:

Take a 5-10 minute exercise break.

You don’t need a treadmill or some other machine to do this. Instead, stand up and stretch, walk around your office or take a walk outside. Be creative. For example, if you have the space, try skipping for a little while or get a hula hoop and start it spinning. Both of these activities are lots of fun and can bring out the kid in you. It doesn’t matter what you choose to do. Just getting your body moving can help your mind relax.

Don’t eat lunch with your computer, phone, or laptop!

While not officially a mini-break, lunchtime deserves mention because it’s usually the biggest break during the workday. Therefore, use it to relax your mind and your body! Go someplace you enjoy; a park, a quiet room, or share your lunch break with friends. Just don’t share it by continuing to work.

Play a game, even if for only a few minutes.

Now here’s where your computer can be used for relaxation. Find a quick computer game that you enjoy and play it for a few minutes; just don’t get addicted or forget that you’re taking a MINI break. One site that has some unique games can be found at:,,49845,00.html.

Mind you, I only tried the “At Work” games. My favorite was Office Hoops. And the nice thing about this game is that you can play it for real, just in case your place of work monitors your computer for the websites you visit.

Doodle something.

Regardless of your artistic abilities, drawing circles, squiggly lines or a picture of a flower can relax you. If you really don’t like to draw, here’s a web site that helps you doodle: Try the various “interactive” activities, listed on the left. See what you think!

Mini-Break, take me away.

You can probably come up with your own ideas for mini-breaks. The important thing is to allow yourself to take them and make them a regular part of your day. Then, like the woman in the Calgon commercial, you can let your mini-breaks take you away to a more relaxed state of mind.