From Dr. Jane's Notebook

Stress management through summer management

One of the problems of aging is getting old. While some people seem to get old early in life, others age so gracefully they seem to be eternally young.  As the seasons change, we are once again reminded that there’s no time like summer to test the limits of our youthfulness. While there are a million ways to improve your looks on the outside, it is also critically important to remain youthful and become even more beautiful on the inside. To improve the way you feel on the inside, consider the following ideas.

·         It’s okay if you’re not perfect. Who said we have to be perfect all the time? Most of the time, you’re probably trying to do the right thing. So why not do your best and get on with things? Several years ago, a very wise friend of mine helped me to get over striving to be perfect when he explained things from an organizational perspective. He said that “when other people start to think you’re perfect, they also start looking for all of your flaws!” Well, that cured me.

·         Allow yourself to really play! Many times we spoil the games we love when we become obsessed with our score. This can happen in golf, Scrabble, bowling, playing a musical instrument, or just about anything. Somewhere along the line, we stop “playing” and start “performing”. Competition is a quick way to rob ourselves of the fun. To counter this unnecessary loss, I recommend playing by yourself, without keeping score and without judging yourself. Your spirit will be enlivened as you remember what it feels like just to play.

·          It’s okay to use cues in Sudoku.  Like so many others, I am hooked on Sudoku, the number placement puzzles. But am I really alone in allowing myself to peek at the back of the book when I get stuck?  Personally, I consider it like buying a vowel on Wheel of Fortune in order to solve the puzzle. Sudoku is the wonderful combination of a math game and brain massage. I like the challenge, I like the sense of accomplishment, and I like the repetition. Why would I want to spoil my fun with frustration?

·         Take some time off every day. Summer’s reputation suggests that it is a time to shift gears, to take life a little slower, to play outside and make the most of our family time. Given the scary and hectic year we have had, I’d like to think of summer as one of nature’s gifts; an opportunity for time off in order to recharge our batteries and resynchronize our family relationships. So shift gears, make dates with your spouse, dates with your kids, make a list of family field trips and put them on the family calendar.

There is another way to stay young on the inside that comes through redefining how we think about ourselves. Not long ago, my favorite poet Maya Angelou shared one of the secrets of her success. While many people get stressed out over making a mistake or two and ruin their day with regret and endless thinking and self-torture,  Dr. Angelou stated that ‘every day, she expects to make about 100 mistakes. So when at the end of the day, she’s only made about 86 mistakes, imagine how good she feels!’ She would consider that to be an excellent day!

©Copyright, 2011, Jane R. Rosen-Grandon. All rights reserved.            

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