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Patricia Ronzio

No Time, Too Busy?


Fotolia_34052853_XSI had just come through a day of that “too busy, no time to…” experience. "So much to do…I’ll never get it done!”

I could feel anxiety tightening around me, constricting my breathing.  It was scary. Yet a part of my brain hit the pause button: “Wait a minute, there’s got to be another way.” Time stretched itself out, and slowed way, way down.

Pausing even for a second changes time from something rigid and confining, to something that is elastic and expansive. It felt like blowing up a toy balloon and turning it into a green giraffe. It is fun!

An additional bonus: Breaking free of the “no time” mindset unleashed new ideas.I suddenly saw options where none existed before: I do not really have to reschedule dinner plans. The report actually doesn't have to get there until the end of the week, and I can finish up tomorrow. Didn’t I do something similar a couple of years ago, maybe I can repurpose that.

So much to do…and it will get done!

Have you discovered ways to expand time and find breathing room?

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Cheesecake for Stress? Does Comfort Food Have a Place?


I am shopping for food, and feeling stressed out. I’m simply too tired to think about “managing stress,” especially when the solution is right in front of me.

There she is, sitting demurely in the pastry display case. There is my charmer, surrounded by custards and double layered chocolate cake. There must be slices of key lime pie somewhere, but I need not look any further… I am focused on the “Prima Donna”.
Yes, it’s that slice of cheesecake that sets my brain buzzing. You know…the thick, creamy, melt-in-your-mouth kind with raspberry sauce tastefully draped to enhance her looks.

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I’m at a crossroads:

Will I buy that delicious treat, knowing I can pick up a fork and eat it immediately after check out… (Why wait to go home?) Or will I pass by the pastry counter and pick up the organic vegetables and cans of Amy’s soup, the real purpose of this shopping trip?

This choice of indulging in a comfort food depends directly on how centered I feel at the “point of purchase” moment.

If I’m in touch with my inner self – body, mind, spirit and emotions – I understand that I have a choice: I can choose to eat the cheesecake, or not. Cheesecake is just an object behind a glass partition.

Here is another choice point:

If I do select to eat a comfort food, I might eat just one bite, slowly savoring its flavors, while reflecting on what’s bugging me. In this scenario, just possibly I will be able to satisfy a deeper hunger.

However, if I’m totally frazzled, I could eat the cheesecake on the dessert plate, and more. At this point cheesecake has transmuted to a detour around uncomfortable feelings. By eating the pastry, I am taking care of myself as well as I can, at this very second.

That's the thing about stress: The more I nourish my whole self, the more awake I feel and the less likely I am to use food to distance myself from my Inner Being. And I like feeling alive…

Back to the pastry cabinet. Yes, I bought the slice of cheesecake, and I picked up a fork and napkin at checkout, then sat at an outdoor table. As I nibbled my treat, I watched shoppers entering and leaving the natural food store, and something magical happened. I actually began to taste each bite. Watching the world go by pulled me out of the mood I was in. I was even able to put the half-eaten cheesecake back in the box and finish it after dinner.

Cheesecake anybody?

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"Plan B" to Keep Exercising

On most days, I love to bike along trails near my home, to help stay fit, to process events, and to relax by being in touch with nature.

What to do when something interrupts a routine that satisfies so many needs?

After a particularly exhausting day, I put on my helmet, jumped on my bike and started off. Click, clank from the front wheel. Maybe a bearing needs to be lubed, so I headed back to the house. Rather than giving up on cycling, I grabbed Bob’s bike, adjusted the seat height, and took off for a spin (with his prior okay.)

Do you rely on a specific routine to maintain fitness and/or to manage stress? What happens when that activity is unavailable when you need it? A zumba class is cancelled, the weather turns too nasty for walking, or pool swim lanes are closed?

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Here are examples of my back-up plans:

  • Too hot (or rainy) for biking: Use aerobic workout DVD or home treadmill.
  • Too tired for a full workout: Ease up by taking a walk through the neighborhood.
  • Yoga class is cancelled: Watch a Yoga DVD.

Do you have an exercise or stress relief backup plan to handle unexpected changes? Will your "Plan B" be as effective and enjoyable as the activity it replaces? 

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How to Reduce Travel Stress

How many kinds of stress does travel bring up? Are you relieved to find your reserved seat on the plane, store your luggage in the overhead bin, and then plunk down – secure for the moment knowing you overcame all the obstacles of getting here.Fotolia_27748143_XS

Travel stress comes in a wide range of intensity. For me, sometimes it’s a little blip, but at other times it’s like a road bump.
 
First there is planning stress. There seems to be a voice in my head, pestering me with questions: Will I get a good deal on tickets? Will I find flights on the days I want to travel? Aisle or window seat? What about lodging -- can I find a reasonably priced hotel with a fitness center?

There is the departure stress: Heading to the airport, “did I’s” come up: Did I lock the front door? Did I bring my ticket? Did I take out the garbage?

At the destination, there is arrival stress: Delays with luggage, shuttles or cabs can be vexing, depending on my tolerance level.  Okay, I’ve reached the hotel room, and I want nothing more than to totally relax. Ah, there is the mini-bar. I open it to see what’s inside– a bar of chocolate, a bottle of wine, it’s tiny, really. And little packages of snacks. Tempting - but not today!

How to counteract travel stress? Here are ideas:

Planning stress. I pause for a minute to remember I’ve flown a million times before, and every time arrangements were made, destinations were reached, and here I am.

Departure stress. Buffer the anxious moments by giving myself extra time – before departure.   Pack the night before and use a departure check list. 

  • Dishwasher off - check!
  • AC set at 80 - check!
  • Garbage thrown out - check!
  • Laptop by the door - check!
  • Boarding pass - check!

Instead of pushing on to the airport, regardless of feeling tense, take 2 minutes for slow breathing .....arrive at the departure gate, more relaxed than before.

Arrival stress. Before reaching for a snack or pouring a drink, consider other options to de-stress, – A hot bath/shower? A short nap? Flick on the tube? Take a walk, go for a swim, or do a quick workout in the fitness center?

However, if snacks are what you need to de-stress, “Calories, shalories, I deserve a treat!” You are making a conscious choice, and hurray for being self-aware.

So, how do you manage travel stress? I’d love to hear about the ways that help you make travelling more enjoyable.

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What is the Best Way to Share Feelings with a Friend?

Have you thought about having a goal when you share an emotion? How you feel afterward may be related to your answer or (unconscious) intent.

What sort of listener response are you looking for when you share a feeling?

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Do you seek:

1. Validation? Are you looking for confirmation of your viewpoint?

2. Advice? Do you want somebody to solve a problem?

3. Stand In? Are you looking for your listener to take away discomfort?

4. Venting? Do you want someone to truly hear you out when expressing a feeling?

5. Encouragement? Are you looking for a pep talk?

Match these potential outcomes with the five goals above.

a. Clarity? Helps you get a clear picture and think rationally.

b. Relief? Helps you get feelings out in the open.

c. Affirmation? I'm not the only one who feels this way.

d. Guidance? Helps you convert unknowns to knowns.

e. Accountability? Helps keep you on track.

Please remember, none of the above options is inherently "bad" or "good". Each can simply represent your choice in the moment.

What are the most effective ways you use to share emotions to come away from the interaction feeling more empowered? I would love to hear from you!

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