Merry Monday – 17 Ways of Handling Stress

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Let’s face it, the world is full of stress. It’s not hard to find a news story where someone has been hurt or killed. Why is it so common? Well, it’s possible that it isn’t and there is just more attention given to those types of stories.

Maybe it has to do with people working long hours and overtime in many jobs. Is it more than before? That may depend on whether you look at the entire working history of the world before unions or take a snapshot that covers the last 10 years. “Before” is subjective to whoever is looking at the issue.

Are there more mental health issues today? No idea on this one. We see it in the news more, but that doesn’t mean it’s happening more, only that it’s actually being talked about and diagnosed now.

Do people not have enough healthy outlets to deal with the pressure they face? Maybe. I can’t remember being taught to handle stress at all, let alone in a healthy way. I was bullied though, so I learned how to escape from bad things at a young age.

It’s possible there are barriers though. For example, there are a lot of green spaces in Ottawa, but if you work a non-traditional shift, the city fines people for being in some parks at odd hours assuming the only reason you might be there is to do something illicit like deal drugs. Pokemon players have run up against this situation here. Even with barriers, there are better options than violence.

Not everyone likes the same things, so suggesting someone read a book might not be remotely helpful. It might even be something that brings stress to them if they have extra challenges like learning disabilities, so it can be hard to help someone else find something that reduces the frustration in them.

I can only offer a list of things that I do to handle stress:

  1. Videos

    I like to watch silly videos online like babies who are happy to see their dads come home from work. The trick with this one is to give yourself a limit and turn off autoplay, or you’ll waste too much time and contribute to your stress instead of helping it.

  2. Writing

    I write stories that let me constructively channel my emotions. That’s rather given as a writer, but tons of non-writers also keep journals just to get the stress from the day out in a place that doesn’t hurt other people.

  3. Fitness

    I practice martial arts or go for a run (this is a cheaper outlet than many other fitness options). I have friends who love the gym because they can watch a movie while they get their cardio in. Do something that gets your body moving, makes you sweat and releases endorphin. For some, this might be just a short walk twice a day or hopping into their garden.

  4. News

    Read about good news stories. There’s tons of the other kind. Seek out stories that help you see the whole world isn’t a cesspool.

  5. Read

    Read whatever you enjoy reading whether it’s a technical manual or a comic book, if it helps you feel less like punching people, it’s a good thing.

  6. Volunteer

    There are tons of places looking for help. Find one that works with your schedule and interests. Getting to know other people can help you learn about different perspectives and it’s hard to get mired in stuff that doesn’t matter when you’re building a house for someone in need. I’m not currently volunteering, but I have in the past and I always come away having broadened my view of the world and other people.

  7. Socialize

    Hang out with your best buds doing whatever it is you love doing together that doesn’t involve hurting others or vandalizing property. Pizza and South Park often works for me.

  8. Movies/TV

    This one can consume a lot of time, but if you are a screenwriter it’s not such a time waster. You can always watch while on a treadmill or stationary bike, so it doesn’t have to be physically bad for you either. You can do some other things while doing it too like knitting or crocheting, which has been known to have meditative effects on stress levels.

  9. Music

    Listen, play, record/produce, dance to it. It’s great for the soul.

  10. Spirituality

    Meditation, bible study, daily Tao, whatever works for you and doesn’t hurt others.

  11. Hobbies

    I love doing jigsaw puzzles and I’m learning to put model cars together. I have a friend who loves geocaching and exploring abandoned buildings. I have another who bird watches.

  12. Social Media

    Reducing time on social media reduces my exposure to the constant shares of bad news and negative comments.

  13. Special Interest Clubs

    Many people find things like Toastmasters or the Shriner’s to be life altering.

  14. Art

    Visit museums, learn to draw/paint, etc.

  15. Education

    Learn something new. Take a cooking class, a dance class, pottery, etc.

  16. Sex

    Nothing quite works for relieving stress like an orgasm. And you don’t need a partner for it unless there’s some religious restriction stopping you from self-pleasure.

  17. Cannabis

    This one may or may not be a legal option for you. Also, depending on what type of cannabis, you could actually make yourself paranoid instead of relaxed. There’s a slight chance you could be allergic to it too, so be careful. For most people, cannabis has no ill effects when used in moderation and in ways that don’t damage the lungs.

There are thousands of things to do in the world that will relieve stress without hurting others and many of them teach skills that may lead to a career change down the road. My list includes mainly the things I’m into, but it’s really a teaspoon of all that’s out there. Exploring things will help you figure out who you are and what’s most important to you. The amount of time we get to live is pretty short, so I like to reduce things that make me feel crappy and increase the good things.

If you haven’t a clue what you’re into, talk to people and find out what is out there. There are clubs for nearly everything. There’s a group in Ottawa who focuses on bonsai. There’s another who does ikebana. Another who does shodo. There are ax-throwing clubs, flag football groups, roller derby, sports fans, geocachers, Steampunks, fit goths, LEGO builders, and so much more.

And if you really want to spend your time punching people, take up a sport like boxing or MMA where the fight is consensual. Just remember that you’ll get hit too.

Guid cheerio the nou,
R~

Warrior Wednesday – Exercising While Injured

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In the physical sense, things aren’t ideal. My neck still hurts though I have a little more range of motion today. The last couple of days I couldn’t tilt it left or right at all. I can’t go far with it, but I can do more than none.

The things that are helping aren’t just the neck exercises, but swinging my sword and other exercise. That’s likely partly due to endorphin being a natural pain killer, but also moving is necessary for healing as the newer acronym METH (Movement, Elevation, Traction, Heat) says. Oh, Aleve and Tiger Balm are also wonderful things.

The video link that I shared the other day suggests to keep doing the exercises that don’t hurt or stop before the point where it hurts. This is something none of the physiotherapists I’ve been to said. In fact, most just put me in a room after showing me the exercises once and just left me without thinking that I might never have been injured enough to have a clue about pain being a bad sign. No pain, no gain except when you’re talking about the spine, apparently. Therefore, it’s not so much of a wonder to me why my neck issue keeps returning. Hopefully, this time I’ll get it to heal for good.

I have another complication though. Monday’s Couch 2 5k session has left a small muscle in my left leg called the m. tensor fasciae latae feeling pulled. This is one of the muscles used in lifting the leg. I got through martial arts last night because we were focusing on standing techniques rather than a lot of up and down movement. Today’s session will likely be a lot more walking than jogging, but at least it’s exercise.

I bet that wouldn’t have happened had I been doing kicks regularly. I’ll have to get back into that.

It’s possible that I have a longer recovery time than others due to Sjögren’s. I’m not worried about it. I’ll just push a little less hard. I may also be more susceptible to chafing in areas due to the extra dryness. It’s a normal running problem but takes less run time for me to experience.

I also make sure to take L Glutamine to prevent gut damage. It was suggested to me by a nutritionist when I first came to Ottawa to help heal my yeast sensitivity.

I’ve noticed something about myself. I seem to over tense my muscles when using them. I’m not sure if this is related to being bullied during gym class in elementary school, living through an emotionally abusive long term relationship, Sjögren’s, anxiety, or some combination of the above, but I’d sure like to get it to stop. If anyone has experienced this, please let me know what has helped.

Off to eat breakfast and slowly walk. I’ll probably get rained on, but it’s rather warm in Ottawa anyway.

Guid cheerio the nou,
R~

Warrior Wednesday – Budo as Life

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Coming back to the city after a weekend filled with sugary foods, alcohol, and over consumption makes me want to get serious about my fitness goals.

I have to admit that even when I was heavy, once I started doing karate, I shed pounds quickly, but I wouldn’t say I didn’t notice or that it was easy. It was hard work. Crunches, sit ups, burpees, side kicks, front kicks, push ups, leg raises, roundhouse kicks, punches, squats, lunges, etc. Not easy nor fun, but I went from being near 200 lbs to the right range for my body size. Those belts were hard won, so I never understand when someone says it’s easy to give up martial arts. Martial arts are a part of who I am. They aren’t just something I do to pass the time or get some exercise in.

Advancing doesn’t happen because you’ve been doing it for some arbitrary length of time, but your ability to demonstrate the skill level you are challenging for. To be able to demonstrate that skill takes a certain level of fitness combined with the ability to perform properly on the day. You’re more likely to screw up on the day if you haven’t been working on your fitness level and if you haven’t practised enough. Like anything else, you need to know it inside and out to be able to overcome the jitters that can wreak havoc. You have to keep it together. The right mindset and energy is crucial.

One of the high-ranking people in my primary martial art told me that 80% of my weak areas are directly related to my posture. If I fix that, many other things will resolve along with it. And I can feel that happening. Since I began focusing on my core, I rarely lose my balance now. I have more work to do, but I’m not in a hurry and I don’t have an inclination to focus on the finer details until I have the bigger foundational items in place. Big cuts, right posture, and strong legs. Any problems left after the big things will be easier to fix later. I may even figure those out on my own as I learn to control my body better.

But I struggle with general fitness because I sit too much between writing and sewing, so I’m going to do Couch 2 5K. I have no idea if I will ever care to actually run marathons, but I want to get more activity in than just martial arts a couple times each week. Running is pretty cheap as the main things are shoes and water, which I already own. I have a little mp3 player too. This contributes to its attractiveness as I don’t have cash for other things like a gym membership or karate. It may also help me deal with the heat better.

But what would the effort mean without taking a serious look at my diet? Almost useless. Things that help improve fitness include what you put into your body, the amount of energy you expend, and self care. I need to eat healthier, so I’m going to reduce starches and sugars. If I have potatoes, rice, or corn, I don’t need bread. In fact, many vegetables are carbs, so one can easily fill their plate with veggies rather than heaping it full of rice. With my past yeast issues, it’s best I not eat bread constantly anyway.

Weight loss is primarily done through eating properly. About 80% of it is food. And it makes complete sense as food is fuel for our bodies. If you put sugar in a gas tank, it rots holes in it, just like it does to our teeth. Eventually, sugar causes diabetes, blood pressure problems, yeast overgrowth, and more. But we are glucose-based organisms, so cutting all sugar is silly. Having a reasonable amount of fruit daily is healthy. It’s candy, pop, cake, ice cream, etc that should be had in moderation. I rarely drink pop, so that one is easy for me. Chocolate isn’t so easy, but I don’t think I do too badly as I rarely eat it. I’ve been pretty good outside of the weekend actually. But I’ve always loved pasta and potatoes. I’ve felt sluggish lately after eating a stir fry because I’ve been eating more rice than I need to, so that’s a change I’m making.

Today being my birthday might have been a good day to start as a gift to myself, but it looked stormy and I really wanted to finish the book I was reading on the weekend. I’m also wanting to play some videogames and try a D-Box movie. Spiderman would probably be fun in that format. I’ll start the running on Monday as it’s 3 days a week and I’ll work on some other things like finishing that online course first. I’ll start the healthier eating tomorrow or maybe next week as well. I’m considering treating myself to a dairy and gluten free cheesecake before the diet changes.

ROW80LogocopyGoals Update

Novel – The Blood Waitress Club is coming along nicely. I wrote a bit on the weekend. I’ve caught up to a point I wrote a long time ago when it nagged me to be put down onto the page. It came out better than I originally thought.

Screenplay – I’m still reading Save the Cat. With the course wrapping up, I can put more time into this.

Sewing – My purse is almost done. I will start my products on Monday regardless of whether or not I’ve finished the purse.

Kitchen Reno – There’s only one drawer left, but I have to focus on cleaning my living room, kitchen, and bathroom as they’re coming to do pest control in a week and a half, which requires me to empty my cupboards. So much for making progress by getting things put away…

Course – This is almost done. I may even get this done after the movie this afternoon before playing video games and enjoying cheesecake.

Reading – According to Goodreads, I’m halfway through my reading challenge for this year having read 6/12 books. I aim for 1 per month, but sometimes I get no where near that. We’ll see what happens when school hits. I might log scripts I’ve read where possible. I read Gremlins, but the script isn’t listed in Goodreads.

Cleaning – I got all my dishes cleaned before leaving for the weekend, so I just need to maintain that now. I have a bunch of laundry to do again. I have too many clothes, but little idea what to get rid of.

Well, I must hop in the shower if I have any hope of making the movie. Since I have Scene points, I get to have fun for free.

Salut,
R~

Warrior Wednesday – Weight

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I know several people who’s fitness goal is to lose weight without even realizing they may already be in the ideal range for their height. They look at their flabby middle section and think they have to get onto a bicycle and try to sweat out the extra fat they believe they have despite how tiny they might be.

It’s quite likely they need to gain muscle or tone rather than lose any pounds.

This chart may be a decent guideline on how much you should weigh if you are concerned about your weight. It tells me I’m already in my ideal range, but I look down at my tummy while I type this and wonder if I’ll ever see my abs. When people are sitting, it’s normal for our bellies to bulge out. You may not have as much work to do as you think. Your thighs also look fatter when sitting. Also, sometimes you might just be having a bloated moment that makes your belly seem bigger than it is. This is especially common in people with digestive issues/food allergies like Celiac Disease.

I’m not saying your shouldn’t be exercising. Everyone should be. You could be going to the gym and not achieving much because you’re working on the wrong thing though. Regularly going to the gym is a great habit to have. And if, like me, the gym isn’t really your thing, there are many other ways to get exercise in.

I mainly do cardio, take walks, and do core exercises outside of the dojo. Swinging my sword about is helpful for upper body fitness and the lower movements we do regularly in kata are pretty much lunges. I do some upper body work outside, because sword work would leave me a little lopsided otherwise. I prefer to do something like play a sport rather than hang out in a gym. And I love to dance.

Lately, I’m also looking at my diet. I was feeling much better when I did roller derby and my diet was rather ketogenic and I think I’m going to try and go back to something similar. A little less carbs, good proteins, good fats, and lots of veggies.

It’s also worth stating that the same volume of muscle weighs more than that of fat. I often focus more on the inches around my waist as a measurement and keep track of what I’m physically capable of before getting tired. I use things like FitBit to see how active I’m being.

I’m planning to get more active after this weekend. Why wait? Well, I’m off to a cottage to party and I plan to start one of those challenges that has requirements that I don’t want to be vacationing in the middle of. Once I’m recovered from the weekend, I’ll get at it. It’s supposed to be 30 minutes 3 days per week and doesn’t go higher than 40 minutes at the end, so it shouldn’t be that hard to fit in. It lasts for 8 weeks. More on it later this month.

Like any goal, you need to figure out your needs otherwise you’ll be stumbling around in the dark. Your body responds differently than my body. Spend time getting to know yours and pay attention to what works and doesn’t for you. If you know you hate squats, you shouldn’t aim to do hundreds of them. Find an exercise that works the same muscle groups that you don’t hate.

My needs? To perform better at martial arts, I need to strengthen my core as more than one high ranking practitioner has advised me that my posture is 80% of where my issues lie. If I fix this, I’ll get the most bang for my buck. I also need to practice cuts and seiza/tate hiza more. Also, I’ll be walking a lot come September judging by the size of the campus, so I want to be physically prepared for that.

Basically, fitness is about far more than weight and you do yourself a disservice when you only focus on that piece.

I meant to post this earlier but I got distracted. It’s not tomorrow yet though!

Salut,
R~

Warrior Wednesday – Cross-training

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Martial arts are a great workout, but it can be easy to forget that we need to do other exercises to ensure total body fitness. That being said, it doesn’t have to take a lot of time or be a miserable experience.

One of my Iaido mentors, 8th Dan Hatekenaka Sensei, does hot yoga when she isn’t practicing Iaido. She practices Iaido every day whether there is class or not.

Now Iaido is great for many things. Swinging a sword about takes *some* strength, so it works the upper body. It’s important to mention that we try to get a sword that is a reasonable weight. Many are only a couple of pounds because they are a giant razor and don’t need to be heavy in order to cut things. Also, a light sword should be able to be swung as thought it were heavy and a heavy one as though it were light. It also is helpful to prevent repetitive strain injuries. We are prone to tennis elbow in this martial art. We also end up lopsided if we don’t take time to swing the sword using the opposite hand regularly.

Iaido also has us regularly go from seated seiza or tate hiza position and move around either in squat/lunge type positions or we might slide about on our knees. Yes, we’re also prone to knee injuries. This means we get a decent lower body workout also.

Sometimes it really makes us sweat, but not usually in the way a cardio workout does unless it’s really hot or Sensei really wants to give us a challenge.

So it’s important to cross-train. For some of us, like me, a weak area is my core. I’ve noticed since I started focusing on my core, my balance is improving.

But planks are god awful things and I hate them.

That brings me to Hip Hop Abs. Yeah, it’s a bit silly, but I had a fantastic time dancing about in my living room. The best way, was to say yes to the louder music option and just try to follow along as much as possible. Without the talking, it’s so much fun. I’m soaked and must shower again, but it was worth it. Also, it only took 30 minutes.

I loved dancing in high school, so I think it’s about time I made time for it in my life again.

I also enjoy doing High Intensity Interval Training as you can get a killer workout in 7 minutes. It’s also customizable, so you can insert things like sidekicks if you want to work on basics. Hey, I should add some suburi to my HIIT routine

I also like to do some belly-dancing, RushFit, P90X, and the occasional boring thing like crunches, but lately I haven’t had the time. I did a lot of thinking about what was working and wasn’t for months now and I had to make the difficult choice to leave my writing group. I’m a very visual person and not good at hearing problems in stories when read to me. It all just sounds lovely. I need to see things on the printed page. Also, with school, a business, martial arts, a significant other, renovations, and other commitments, meeting weekly was just not working for me. In truth, I wasn’t really looking for a critique-style group either, but more of a casual writing atmosphere where we occasionally talk about something when someone has a question. There is a group like this in Ottawa and I think I’m going to give them a try if I can figure out where to leave my car…

Anyway, I must shower and eat something for supper. Perhaps I’ll put the pork chop in the oven first to make it almost cooked while I quickly clean up.

Oh, I almost forgot the whole point I wanted to make. While I followed along I could feel the same thing that we try for in Iaido, Ki Ken Tai Ichi, which means making the spirit, mind, body, and sword one. Well, minus the sword of course. I thought how cool it will be when I know the dance steps and can actually be in sync with the music and feel the flow.

Salut,
R~

Warrior Wednesday – Planks

bringitPlanking isn’t going terribly bad. I have changed the way I time. I started with a stopwatch method, but that quickly began to feel like watching a needle pierce my arm before they draw blood. Not good. It’s a little annoying to change the countdown everyday, but I’m sure I’ll hit a snag point where I struggle to get beyond the time and it will become ​less often.

As I said earlier this week, by the end of the challenge, I’m supposed to be able to plank for 300 seconds. That’s 5 minutes. I’m doubtful, but I’ve decided that it doesn’t matter. It’s okay ​if it takes me longer to get there than 30 days. I’ll just keep trying to get there even if it takes me years. The point of this isn’t to be able to pompously state I can plank for however long, but to improve my posture and core strength. Of course I’ll mention it if I achieve it, but that’s not why I’m doing it. It’s simply a numerical measure of progress to me.

Starting at 20 seconds was easy. My core was strong enough for that. The jump to 30 seconds wasn’t bad. At 40 seconds, I started to struggle. I’m under a minute at this time.

I think when undertaking fitness goals, people often see themselves as a failure if they need more time. The world isn’t going to blow up if you take an extra day, week, month, year, decade to progress. Just keep trying to get there and one day it’ll just happen. Maybe ask for tips if you’re taking a decade. It could be incorrect technique holding you back after all. I know from martial arts, the slightest of tweaks can bring dramatic improvements.

Whatever​ you’re trying to do in terms of fitness, or anything else really, just keep working at it. If you get injured, you can read about it, do physiotherapy exercises to heal, visualize yourself doing it, and rest the injured area.

Don’t give up. The best things in life are hard won.

Salut,
R~

Fortifying Friday – Plans and Actions

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Lately, I’ve been making some changes in my life. Once upon a time, I worked as a project manager and project planner. After several years of upper management having ignored the plans despite their accuracy, my love of planning had become filled with disdain and I began winging things in my personal life. It wasn’t working.

I have a todo list in Kanbanflow. It’s so large and full of things that I’m not near to accomplishing (I swear I have at least a decade worth of story ideas), that it has become almost useless in terms of goal achievement. I will reorganize it at some point to make it useful again, but I recently started using an analog planner. I plan one week, sometimes only half the week, at a time. I don’t always accomplish the things I want to in a week, but I’m getting more done than I was while I was winging it.

One of my major goals is simplistic: Reclaim my routine. Working at home has made me really lax in terms of how long I sleep, what time I shower, how many meals I eat in a day, etc. So far, I’ve been doing terribly at it. Some days I get up at a reasonable time and get about 75% of my tasks completed. Others I struggle to just get food done.

One of my other major tasks is to get all my dishes clean. I feel like it’s pathetic that it has been so hard to get this one thing done, but something always comes up or my energy is sapped and I just can’t. The last couple of days, since there has been more sunshine, I’ve been doing better. Damn winter blues!

French is hit and miss. Some days I feel like I’m really getting somewhere and understand a lot. Others, I might as well be looking at Greek. Learning is often like that though. I know I just need to apply myself a little more.

Some days I wonder if my legs will ever be able to take the full length of class time without making me incredibly sore for several days, but this is the way it is every year at this time. I’m usually fine by the spring seminar that lasts several days. I should buy that ice skating pass because it’s cheap and will help me whip my legs into shape. Perhaps I’ll get it today, after I get a police record check done for volunteering at the library.

And there’s my writing. It seems that when I have a deadline, I have trouble writing anything at all. No deadline? Writing is fun and I’m shocked when I suddenly finish a project. Clearly planning some things doesn’t work for me.

My Alphasmart Neo2 arrived yesterday and I love it. It’s such a simple tool. I can work onto upto 8 files at once. Without all the distractions of a laptop with bells and whistles, I can just write and I don’t have to copy from paper to my computer afterwards. Because I can only see a couple of sentences at a time on the screen, I don’t get mired in rereading text. I seem to have started a YA Sci-Fi tale, but I have other projects to finish first! Naughty fingers running away on the keyboard…

I haven’t found a job yet and EI hasn’t started paying me. I’m going to hopefully get that straightened out today. Several exciting opportunities are available right now. I’m excited to see which come to fruition. Time will tell. Much to do today.

Salut,
R~