BITS 'N TIDBITS June 2001
(C) Joan-Marie Moss June 2001

BASIC HOUSEKEEPING

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IN THIS ISSUE

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7 STRESS BUSTERS YOU CAN INCORPORATE IN YOUR LIFE NOW

WHAT IS LIFE LIKE?

A DOZEN QUICK (INEXPENSIVE) VACATIONS FOR HARRIED PEOPLE

BUYING A CAR? CHECK IT OUT FIRST

HOUSEKEEPING

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STRESS BUSTERS

A recent study predicts that by the year 2020 depression and stress will be the number two health issue that we'll be facing -- right behind heart problems.

Another recent study found that those who feel a deep sense of religious faith coped with depression and stress better and were less likely to be depressed than those who were less religious.

What to do? Well, this month's suggestions are:

1. Exercise your spirituality.

Get in touch with your God, Superior Being, Allah, Jehovah...

Why is this so important? Well, there are numerous reasons you can itemize yourself. But among them is the simple fact that spirituality and connection with your own Higher Power helps put even the biggest difficulties in perspective.

Ralph Stattler shared with us the following prayer, which certainly can help all of us get started on the right foot  regardless of our religious persuasion.....

DAILY PRAYER

DEAR LORD, SO FAR TODAY I HAVE DONE ALL RIGHT.
I HAVE NOT GOSSIPED OR LOST MY TEMPER.
I HAVE NOT BEEN GREEDY, GRUMPY, NASTY, SELFISH
OR CRITICAL OF MY PEERS OR SUBORDINATES.
FOR THIS I AM TRULY THANKFUL.

BUT --

IN A FEW MINUTES, DEAR LORD, I AM GOING
TO GET OUT OF BED, FROM THEN ON I AM SURE THAT
I WILL NEED YOUR HELP EVEN MORE.

AMEN

Thank you, Relph!

2. Sing

The second option for turning a stressful situation around, may not be as obvious. It's simply to cut loose and sing a song.

We live in one of the few societies where singing has been allowed to become the domain of the super stars. Think about it singing has become a specialty of professionals -- and the rest of us listen. We rely on TV, computers, radios and CDs to bring the release that only song can give. And since we listen to perfect highly-polished and edited recordings of our favorites we feel very inadequate when it comes to singing.

Yes, music still remains a vital part of our lives. Songs are one of the few areas in which the exploration of a full range of emotions is publicly sanctioned and wholly accepted. We listen to songs night and day in cars and at home. We depend on songs and other singers to supply us with an almost constant emotional energy and release.

But music and especially singing is not intended to be a passive activity. In traditional societies -- Scottish villages, Native American communities, African tribes, -- everyone sings.

Songs allow us to express our fury and pain, joys and sorrows, caring and concern. There is no greater release of emotion that expressing them -- and expressing them in song is ever so much more effective than listening to someone else.

So, sing -- with vigor. Sing along with singers you like and with singers that you can identify with. Learn the songs that help you connect to your fear, anger, sadness, joy and compassion. Sing along, when you're walking, driving and cleaning house. And, don't worry about being a mite off-key.

Perfection comes with practice.

3. Just Do It -- with complete abandon.

Not just singing....but everything you do...

Don't wait until you can do it perfectly. Perfectionism and procrastination can be a stressful and time-consuming habit.

Just do it...

Procrastinators and people who dillydally suffer 20 percent more headaches, colds and other ailments than people who attend to pressing business in a timely manner. They see health professionals 60 percent more often and report more stress, according to Case Western Reserve University psychologist Diane Tice, PhD. Solution: Split those overwhelming projects into small bite-size goals that can be accomplished in 15 minutes. Even small accomplishments make you feel better and reduce stress hormones.

You'll be surprised a how taking a shortcut on occasion can make your life easier and more enjoyable...and in the doing, you'll also be surprised at how alive you'll feel as you enjoy the sheer act of being and learning. 

4. Go out for coffee (or coke or an ice cream) with a friend!

Pleasant social activities can boost your immune system antibodies for up to two days, according to Arthur Stone, PhD, a State University of New York at Sony Brook psychologist who tracked the daily ups and downs of 100 men. The key is spending time with those you enjoy.

Talking on the phone doesn't seem to help as much but a good social support system may help buffer stress-related declines in immune function. 

5. Walk fast

Even a 10-minute walk around the block  will help reduce tension and anger - turbulent mental states that raise blood pressure. A mini-workout improves circulation, bringing nutrients to muscles and other organs. Regular exercise also appears to strengthen the immune system. Women who walk for 45 minutes, five times a week, were sick only half as much during the cold season as non-exercisers. 

A Norwegian study of more than 25,000 women, exercisers were 37 percent less likely to develop breast cancer than more sedentary women. You don't need anything special. Just walk round the block -- or down the road.

6. Laugh

A good chuckle lowers stress hormones and increases activity of our immune system according to Lee S. Berk, Dr.P.H., assistant research professor of pathology and laboratory medicine at Loma Linda University School of Medicine in California. Heart rate and blood pressure rise during laughter and breathing is deeper, sending a surge of oxygen throughout the bloodstream.

Immediately after a good laugh, your pulse and blood pressure drop to a lower, healthier level than before. 

Besides, have you ever tried to stay angry and up-tight after a good belly-laugh?

7. Sit up straight....

Sitting long hours at your computer may be hurting you more than you think. Slumping over a keyboard for long hours with shoulders rounded leaves less room for lungs to expand, lowering oxygen intake and causing fatigue. Your upper back muscles become lazy. Sitting up straight with a stacked spine -- head over shoulders, shoulders over hips will significantly strengthen key back muscles.

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Life is like eating grapefruit....

First you have to break through the skin; then it takes a couple of bites to get used to the taste...Then, just as you begin to enjoy it, it squirts you in the eye. 

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QUICK VACATIONS FOR HARRIED PEOPLE

Your schedule is so hectic or your budget is so tight that you need to postpone this year's vacation? Gas is prohibitively expensive? No way. Let this be a year for treating yourself to a number of mini-vacations throughout the summer.

* Offer to work a weekend on a nearby farm in exchange for room and board.

* Plan a backyard campout (set up a makeshift tent if you don't have one -- and prepare sandwiches or a barbecue and wake up to a "campfire breakfast".

* When the night is clear -- go out and see how many stars and constellations you can identify.

* Search for four-leaf clovers 

* Plan your errands so that you can walk or bike on all errands that take you within a mile or two of your home. Take time to observe your surroundings. * See how many wildflowers, insects or trees you can identify right in your own neighborhood.

* Visit a local wildlife rehabilitation facility and ask if they offer volunteer opportunities.

* put up a birdbath, bird feeders and squirrel feeders in your yard Enjoy your breakfast or coffee breaks out of doors where you can observe them.

* trade homes with a friend in a different part of the country for a weekend 

* drive to work by a different route while listening to your favorite music

* attend a free concert in your area -- choose, if possible something a little different than your norm.

* take a tour of a local factory, bakery, restaurant, museum, nature center, state park, power station....whatever strikes your fancy. Make it a discovery experience and learn from the proprietor as much as you can about the facilities and the operation.

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Before buying a car, check its history --

http://www.e-autohistory.com/1_autohistory/jsp/home.jsp 

http://www.carbuyingtips.com/carfax.htm 

Check with local Motor Vehicle Department for a certified history of the car

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HOUSEKEEPING

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