Sunday, September 28, 2008

Stress, ... It Adds Up

I've written here about stress and stress management a lot over the past year. I've studied a lot, we all experience it a lot, and most of the clients I work with come in because stress has made their lives more difficult in a variety of ways. As you may or may not know the different stresses that we have in our life add up over time in the toll that it takes on our health, emotions, thinking, relationships, and overall happiness. Sometimes, we're not even aware of how much of it we deal with. For example, we could be working in a job that we enjoy and do well, yet it is still stressful. If you have a job, you deal with stress (and if you don't, well that's pretty stressful too!). And unless you do something to manage it, and get it out of your system, then over time it builds up. If you have problems in an important relationship, have concerns about finances (and who doesn't nowadays?!), are a parent, may be going to school, have an illness or a family member who has one, and are dealing with any other stressful situation, then stress is piling up on you. Now, if this stuff has been going on for years, and you add any significant losses, or even positive (but stressful) experiences then it could lead to problems for you. Many years ago I learned about The Social Readjustment Rating Scale which assigns a number value to the various stresses in life. You add up the amount of stress you've experienced over the year, and you can compute what you're up against. Now if you haven't been handling it well for several years then the situation gets worse. Also, that Scale doesn't include the effects of war, terrorist attacks, or any of the more recent societal problems in the daily news that influence us.

The point is that you will be effected. The first signs to look for can include insomnia, fatigue, digestive upset, restlessness, increased alcohol/drug/tobacco use, anxiety, nightmares, bad temper, depression, worrying, intolerance, isolation, resentment, loneliness, distrust, nagging, lowered sex drive, spacing out, negative self-talk, boredom, poor concentration, low productivity, forgetfulness, muscle aches, and on and on. If you are noticing these things in yourself, do something about it (I have some suggestions below). If you allow this to continue, then you'll start to see more severe symptoms. For example: headaches, colds and other immune system problems, irritable bowel syndrome, rashes, ulcers, high blood pressure, accident proneness, problems on the job, etc. It could get bad.

Here are some things that you can, and should do to prevent this from happening to you (and medicines tend to be a temporary fix). Exercise. Vacation (and for more than a long weekend). Play. Socialize. Improve personal relationships. Start a hobby. Relax. This is important, for you and your family. So if you can't make it happen, get some help.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Easier-Than-It-Looks Recipe: Mango Bread

Linda made this last week for the first time. It tastes very good. Her friend Cindy has a mango tree from which she gives us great tasting mangos. And Linda has a big red looseleaf binder full of recipes that she's collected over the past 18 years. This is one of them. Here's her Mango Bread. [Originally from "A Hundred Years of Island Cooking" an old cookbook from the Hawaiian Electric Company]


2 cups flour (we use whole wheat flour which is h

ealthier, though the measure may be different)

2 teaspoons baking soda

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 1/4 cups of sugar (we use brown sugar)

1/2 cup shredded coconut

1/2 cup chopped nuts (we used walnuts)

2 cups chopped mangoes

3/4 cup oil

3 eggs, beaten

2 teaspoons vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9x5x3 inch loaf pan (to yield one loaf). Sift flour with baking soda and cinnamon into mixing bowl. Stir in sugar, coconut, and nuts. Add remining ingredients and mix well. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until done.

Mango bread is good for breakfast. Heated, with butter or cream cheese, even plain. It's sweet, healthy, and great with a cup of Joe. Let me know what you think.

Monday, September 1, 2008


At this time of the year I can't help but think about the events of 9/11/2001. These thoughts make me feel sad for the families who lost loved ones that day, and everyone who was affected and those who continue to be affected. The world changed on that day. As a society we became more fearful and angry. That event was also used as a rationale for going to war against Iraq. Many more families were disrupted, along with our economy. I'm going to stay away from politics. You know what happened.

My concern here is trying to make some sense of the events of that day, and the aftermath. I still can't. A lot of people can't. I grew up in New York City, and still go back to visit regularly. The Twin Towers, and the people who worked there still mean a lot to me. I consider forgiveness as a way to deal with my sadness and anger, but I haven't gotten there yet. As you know, it's hard to forgive when you're still being negatively effected by the event(s). I do think about how to make lemonade out of those lemons. That's difficult too. Here's what I'm doing. I try to no longer sweat the small stuff. There's more than enough BIG stuff in this world to "sweat." Also I recall the feeling of unity throughout the country in the aftermath of 9/11. This was in spite of the surface differences between us. So I'm going to show love, compassion, and patience, more and better. Also, zero tolerance for being mistreated. And, I'm going to continue to try to do the right thing.

I encourage you to consider these things, and others as an ongoing commemoration to those people who were lost that day. Also, please send some prayers and positive thoughts to those families that suffered such tremendous loss on 9/11, and those families that continue to.