Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Frankie Says Relax

I know this will come as a shock, but I am not, generally, a relaxed type of person.

I mean, I have my moments. Like when I'm sleeping. Only even then I can't relax too much because one time--ALLEGEDLY--I farted in my sleep and Jeff has never let me live it down. So I have trained myself to clench even while unconscious.

But when I'm not dreaming/toning my glutes I'm usually pretty stressy. I pound caffeine. I make lists. I compulsively check email. I walk fast, I talk fast, I eat fast. Every once in awhile I'll make a conscious effort to slow down. I'll take deep breaths, which make me instantly high because my lungs are used to surviving off of Diet Coke fumes and the brief inhalations required in order to sigh wearily. Or I'll take a yoga class and spend the deep relaxation time mentally shopping online for cute fall flats. Or I'll get a massage and then ruin it by going someplace like Soho or Herald Square, parts of the city that are so teeming with tourists that it takes ten minutes to walk a single block (when I can't walk quickly my shoulders try to overcompensate by rising up to earlobe level, as if I have go-go-Gadget wings that simply refuse to deploy).

Again, the lone benefit is muscle tone. "You have a sexy back," Jeff told me yesterday, and before I could even start singing the Justin Timberlake chorus at an inappropriately loud volume he added, "It must be all the stress."

The thing is, I'm over being so tightly wound. I'll take some back flab if it means I don't wake up every morning filled with anxiety. I just need to make some changes that'll stick. Obviously, I'm going to start by wearing an oversized tee-shirt round the clock that says "TOO BLESSED TO BE STRESSED*." And farting in it, in my sleep. But what else? Suggestions welcome, as long as they don't involve cutting out sugar or alcohol or my iTunes season pass to The Jersey Shore.

*When people wear this tee-shirt, I want to kick them right in the ass. I think I might be too stressed to be blessed, you guys.
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27 comments :

  1. Hmm, if you can relax in your sleep I'm jealous. If I'm lucky enough to get any sleep I usually dream I'm working, arguing, or having a freak out.

    The other day a wasp tried to sting me but my muscles were too tense and it sort of glanced off me.

    I sympathize with you and if you figure out how to slow down, please share.

    PS - I fart in my sleep too but it usually wakes me up (not fair).

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  2. Oh, good lord. I just got up out of bed to try and talk myself out of being stressed. Any other day I would be more help.

    I guess I usually just try to talk myself down from whatever thing I'm stressed about. It sounds dumb, but sometimes I do the Pollyanna "Glad Game" and try to focus on all of the good stuff instead. It's harder than it sounds.

    Good luck, Sexyback.

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  3. Bong Olympics II: Winter Bong Olympics

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  4. Anonymous6:37 AM

    hmmm. you already do the things i would recommend. like exercise (i think, right?). for me that's the best destressor-- it wears you out and gives your tension a channel for expression. after that i generally feel good and relaxed. not that i exercise, ever, anymore... but i'm no longer stressed much, you can tell from my back flab...or "happy fat" as some call it :)

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  5. Ummm, cutting out sugar and alcohol would be the opposite of helpful. In fact, I think that if you ate pure sugar and drank constantly you wouldn't feel so stressed.

    Hoping that helps!

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  6. Kick Jeff in the nuts. I ecourage my wife to fart. Ladyfarts smell like roses and cotton candy anyways, and who wouldn't want that?

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  7. No, anyone that wears that shirt should be kicked in the ass. Period. Even if it's true. Especially if it's true.

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  8. You just sound like a New Yorker. Aside from moving, you'll just have to make your peace with the rat race!

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  9. A few things that work for me:
    1) Read a book. It requires being still for a bit, and occupies your mind. Reading just a chapter, or a half chapter, or 10 pages can slow you down enough to breathe. A glass of wine (or juice or milk if you don't drink alcohol) goes well with it.
    2) Get out of the city. Try the midwest for a few days. Or to REALLY slow down, try the south. You can't rush in the south, people won't let you.
    3) And this one is the one that works best for me. Designate some time each day to disconnect. No texts, email, facebook, etc. Just for an hour or so. This is great "me time" for the brain.

    Also, just fart. If he lips off, dutch oven him. :)

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  10. Less coffee. More alcohol.

    Good luck.

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  11. after reading your post all I could think about was wow, my neck hurts, and fall flats... I don't think I'm much help.

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  12. I'm afraid that farting in your sleep just gets worse as you get older. I totally woke my boyfriend up by farting one night after going to Oktoberfest in Columbus and downing brats, sauerkraut, potato salad, and almost 60oz of beer - THREE TIMES. This was right at the beginning of our relationship too. Once I hit 25 things just started sliding right on down the hill :-D

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  13. When I feel my shoulders start rising (which is pretty often - yay high strung!), I consider whether or not this stressful thing will matter tomorrow. If the answer is no, I think, "fuck it." And I repeat that in my head until I actually believe it. Also, I fart in my sleep. That works wonders.

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  14. St Johns Wort tea. Make a big ole batch and keep it in the fridge. My favorite is half SJW, half berry zinger. It takes a week or two to really kick in, but then you feel all happy and calm.

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  15. Oh, Una. I feel your pain. Are shoulders supposed to be lower than your earlobes? Really? I've lived this constantly scrunched up existence for so long, I'm not entirely sure how I would live without the constant muscle pain in my upper back and neck. I like to think of it as frenetic energy instead of stress. Even when I feel I'm not stressed, I still feel like there's electricty zinging under my skin demanding that I do do DO! I self-medicate with wine, chocolate and two hours at the gym every day. Momentary relief with all of them. I've recently taken up knitting which actually does help. It focuses all the excess energy. Which isn't the same as being relaxing, but I'll take what I can get.

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  16. Thank You. Now I know why my shoulders are hunched up like this 90% of the time. Defective Go-Go Gadget Wings. It all makes sense now.

    I have no advice. I rely on chocolate, vodka, music, crappy TV and swearing to 'relax'. And I read before bed. As for the gas? That's pretty free-wheeling around here (see above reliance on poor diet and inactivity). Which one would think may help with the defective wings; you know extra fuel for lift off or something, but alas, it does not.

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  17. Anonymous2:18 PM

    we are so alike. my boyfriend always comments on how nice my back is. what he doesn't know is it's all knots. knots everywhere.

    i recommend reading a real book in a cafe with your phone off. it's really stressful the first ten minutes as you think about all the catastrophes you're missing and all the calls from newly-mangled friends you're ignoring, but after that it's really nice to remember to be selfish.

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  18. I just found your blog on Huffington Post and I'm in love with your writing style. You are one funny girl and I too am in love with Project Runway. Gretchen has got to go, talent or no. I look forward to reading more of your writings, Farticus, and other classics.

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  19. Disconnect occasionally. i had an awful, stressful job up until recently and never did anything without thinking about it...constantly!!! Give yourself permission to something strictly for yourself that you enjoy and turn it all off. Off goes the computer, off goes the phone make it a habit and stick with it! I imagine no nuclear wars will happen without your knowledge and people will never be the wiser that you didn't answer their e-mails immediately! Good luck, cuz sexy backs only look good to those who follow behind you...and if you let loose a fart...well, then even that will be all for moot! ;0)

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  20. I agree with everyone else -- Take time to disconnect for a while, every day. If you don't have a lot of time, just take ten or fifteen minutes to lie on your bed, stare at a wall, and force yourself not to think. It also helps to lie down and focus on relaxing different muscle groups at a time, until your whole body feels completely relaxed. Both options are very effective.

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  21. Spin class really worked for me. It takes so much concentration to stay on beat and not fall off the bike that I ended up relaxing while workin out. My instuctor calls it active meditation. Sounds hokey but it worked for me!!!

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  22. You're worried about farting and you're married to the man? That ship has sailed, he is stuck with you :)
    I definitely recommend farting MORE as a means of stress release... works every time.

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  23. Anonymous6:49 PM

    Well, I WOULD say that it's living in NYC but then I moved from a big city to a small town, thinking it would be so relaxing to not have all the traffic, but I just traded problems. In a small town, you cannot make ANY money, so I'm stressed all the time about money. ugh! Too, the gossip is as bad as you've heard and bad news spreads fast, but terrible news, faster! My mailman asked me if I had any contracts on my house for sale and remembered several rent houses back! Sometimes I miss the anonymity! So, my best way to relieve stress is to laugh, a lot. Rent funny movies. Read funny books. Laugh, Laugh, Laugh!!

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  24. Yeah ... this is going to be cliche, but - cut down on caffeine and take up yoga or some other kind of meditation. It helps, aggravatingly.

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  25. as a psychology major I have come to believe that anxiety/likelihood to stress comes from a mix of a genetic predispositions and the ways we learn to cope. I too have recently decided that this is not the way to live. Possible outlets?: Exercise. It works great for some people, but i tend to stress and get too caught up in even that. Current research says that Cognitive Behavior Therapy is best for dealing with this, without Valiums of course, which are a good option when you need to check out for a while. CBT involves you working with a therapist to change the way you think. So that negativity becomes positivity, etc, etc.
    Good Luck! And yes this was a surprise to me. I assumed your great sense of humor was an awesome coping skill, and I am sure it is, but life stress can sometimes overwhelm. : )

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  26. I hate to focus on the farting, but seriously, if you keep trying NOT to fart around your hubby you will end up like me. Convinced that this was the demise of previous failed relationships, I swore I'd NEVER fart around a boyfriend again! Six years of clenching later and not only are my bowels confused, stressed and depressed, but my farts have started farting. It's no way to live I tell ya. My advice? Invest in some instant odor-be-gone and catch those buggers right as they leave the door. And relax.

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  27. Gawd, I am laughing so hard after reading all the comments! Ever heard of Walter the Farting Dog. Great little books in the children's section. I am not hyper anymore, wears off with age cause you just plain don't really give a fuck anymore but when I did, I got these relaxation tapes -that TALKED me down with all this pretty music in the background plus my husband massaged my feet with cream and lord just knocks me out. So maybe you can get Jeff to rub those dogs and let one fly if he squeezes too hard! Stop and B-R-E-A-T-H. In through the nose, hold for a few seconds, exhale through the mouth slowly.

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