Friday, July 15, 2011

Pump Those Brakes, Baby: Part 1

The other day I signed my replacement credit card on the silver strip you slide through the little card machine at the grocery store. Somehow I didn't see the gleaming white strip two centimeters below that said "SIGN HERE."

This hardly phased me. You see, it was nothin' compared to the time my key to my apartment didn't work and I stood banging on my apartment door for four minutes, juggling eight bags of groceries and yelling for my roommates to come answer the door, before realizing it wasn't my apartment.

And it was nothing compared to the time I tried to break into my car because, well, my key wasn't working, only to realize that, yep, you guessed it: it wasn't my car.

Or the time I finally bought a car with a clicker, got into my car after an appointment and wondered why it reeked of cigarette smoke, before realizing it wasn't my car. Creepy. For the owner who may or may not have been watching the whole thing, that is.

Or the time I got in the shower with my clothes still on, or asked the car wash guy for an unscented air freshener, or locked my keys in the car twice in three days.

Yes, the credit card incident was mild. But it was yet another yellow flag waved high in the air, cautioning me to slow down, alerting me of my desperate need for rest.

For years I blazed past these yellow flags, pedal to the medal in this life I'd made into a race. Not surprisingly my trusty racecar began to wear out. Its hubcaps fell off, its spark plugs misfired, its gas sensor went screwy, its batteries ran down, and its engine started to stumble. But let me tell you, its brakes were still in great shape. And so I decided to start using them.

Here are a few ways I've recently learned to apply the brakes:

1. Remember the Ha-ha-ha game? The one where you and your friends would lie in a circle, your heads on each others' stomachs, and take turns fake laughing? The game where real raucous laughter would always eventually ensue, sending endorphins shooting through your body?

Well, your tired body needs those game-induced endorphins. Majorly. So play the laughing game with your kids or your friends. Or yourself. If you're playing with yourself all you have to do is fake laugh for 60 seconds straight. Feel free to experiment with different laughs. If you’re alone you can do this in a vertical position. No need to lie down.
I sometimes do this when I'm feeling especially stressed, and always when I'm alone. I end up laughing for real. And blushing. And looking cautiously over my shoulder.

I heard from someone who heard from someone else who heard from their doctor that fake laughing is actually an effective way to lower anxiety levels and prevent panic attacks because it really gets the endorphins flowing. So do this. Doctor's orders.

2. Try to sit down 2-5 times each day for 2-5 minutes. This is SO DOABLE and amazingly rejuvenating for body and soul. The key, according to my clinical nutritionist, is to sit and not do anything. No reading. No Facebook. No nothin'. Just you in a chair, leaning back, your legs up and your body limp like linguine.

3. Eat like this.

4. Bribe your kids/siblings/students to give you a back massage at least once a week. Then drink lots of water. People who are touched often stay healthier. I just made that up, but it's got to be true.

If your bribing skills aren't great, a simple hug should help you chill out.

I've been brake happy these I've got more! Come back for a 100% guaranteed, sure-fire rest-giver in part 2.

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