“A man should hear a little music, read a little poetry, and see a fine picture every day of his life, in order that worldly cares may not obliterate the sense of the beautiful which God has implanted in the human soul.”
-- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.
“Life is short and we never have enough time for gladdening the hearts of those who travel the way with us. Oh, be swift to love! Make haste to be kind.”
-- Henri Frederic Amiel.
“I have stretched ropes from steeple to steeple; garlands from window to window; golden chains from star to star, and I dance.”
--- Arthur Rimbaud.
I am occasionally a walking ball of stress. I carry it in my shoulders, right on top, in the muscles leading up to my neck. By the end of a long day, I am usually a knotted, hunchbacked pile of worries and annoyances.
It is not attractive.
So to combat my frustrations, I've developed a few new tricks to keep my temper and let the rest go. They've been great when work gets overwhelming; I've found I'm able to make much better use of my day when I'm not distracted by massive amounts of stress. Here are the Top 5:
- Keeping the radio station in the car on NPR or the classical music. On the road, you're surrounded by pedestrians, crazy drivers, and, unfortunately, an inordinate amount of potholes, all ready to jump in front of you at any moment. Why add loud commercials and bad music to the list of distractions?
- Getting out of the office for lunch. Bonus points for movement and the Great Outdoors. Tuesday, I went to a nearby park and hit the swings (which you're never too old for; don't be ridiculous) for a good 15 or 20 minutes. The park overlooks the Potomac, and what's more invigorating than pumping up your heartrate while enjoying a beautiful view?
- Organizing my To Do lists by time. Scheduling my tasks like appointments means I keep moving things and the important ones are checked off as efficiently as possible. No need to stress about what to do next - I just look at the clock.
- Eating healthy snacks. These days, sugary snacks make me feel like a sluggish and guilty about the cheap, empty calories. Gala apples to the rescue!
- Working out. Every day that I go to yoga or for a run is drastically improved. At the start of each yoga class, you set an intention for your practice - a thing or person or feeling you dedicate the class to. Sometimes I dedicate it to feeling energized or closer to God. You know, noble things. But sometimes I dedicate it to someone who drove me up a wall that day at work. Oh ho ho, nice try, annoying person, but you are not going to get the better of me today.
"Relax, Max. Your nerves are just like jumping jacks, Max."