Posts Tagged With: letting go of stress

Day 1527: The Element of Surprise

Yesterday, at work, I was surprised to see this:


Oh my Gawwd!  I can’t believe that I’m still surprised by anything, after all the years and all the experiences I’ve been through.

Would it surprise you to know that I’ve been thinking and talking a lot about surprises lately?

For example, I am no longer surprised by actions and words from people that are completely consistent with what they’ve done and said before. There’s no element of surprise in my saying, over and over again, to anybody who will listen:

That’s just so-and-so being so-and-so.

I think I surprised somebody, yesterday, when he responded to my repeated request for help with, “That is SO low on my list of ….” and I pointed my finger at him and said, “Don’t finish that sentence!”

But that was just so-and-so being so-and-so.

Are there any elements of surprise in my other photos from yesterday?








There might be an element of surprise in my now posting my voice from a previous post, Day 811: Changing the Inner World.

I won’t be surprised if people are themselves in their comments, below.

Any element of surprise in my ending this post like so?


… to everyone who helps me create this blog and to you — of course! — for reading it.

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 40 Comments

Day 1342: Subjective Stress

Last week, I got my yearly review at work, which could have been a source of subjective stress.

Instead, my subjective opinion is that it was an excellent review, which reduced my stress.

My supervisor objectively stressed my need to reduce my subjective stress, as follows:

Goal for next year: Decrease subjective stress level. Keep mindful of her strengths and accomplishments and resource limitations while managing the intense level of requests so she can continue to provide excellent patient care with less stress to herself.

I subjectively want to stress this, here and now:

  • I subjectively think that “decrease subjective stress level” is an important subject for my supervisor to bring up.
  • The hospital where I work can be very stressful, subjectively and objectively.
  • I constantly explore the subject of stress reduction in group and individual therapy.
  • Like many health care professionals, I am better at helping others decrease stress than my own subjective self (which has been the subject of many articles in the health care field).

How is your subjective stress level?  What increases it?  How might you decrease it?

I’ve been thinking about the subject of stress a lot lately. My subjective opinion is that my stress level is higher than usual because my  son is leaving home to attend Edinburgh University this month and I’m having open heart surgery soon afterwards. Both these sources of stress of  have been the subject of many recent blog posts here.

Subjectively, it occurs to me that both those stressful events are objectively stressful. That is, most people would agree they would cause stress to anybody.  “Subjective stress” is the stress I might add to that stress by worrying about subjects I can’t control (like whether my son will receive his student visa in time before his scheduled flight on Saturday), or by subjecting myself to fortune telling, catastrophizingblaming, comparisons, all-or-nothing thinking, personalizing,  mind reading, and all the other cognitive distortions common to human subjects (which have been the subject of many of my previous blog posts).

I’d like to stress that I often decrease my subjective stress level by taking subjective pictures of my surroundings and sharing them here, like so:













Did any of those subjective photos increase your subjective stress level?  Decrease it?

Subjectively, I believe this number from Stephen Sondheim’s Company is a good example of subjective stress making an objectively stressful situation (a wedding) more stressful:


You leaving a subjective comment on any subject might reduce my subjective stress level.   Shall we find out?

Objective thanks to all who helped me create this subjective post and to you — of course! — for subjecting yourself to my blog, today.

Categories: personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 45 Comments

Day 1336: Stress Relief

Because I’m a psychotherapist,  I know about  stress relief. And because I’m a person alive in the year 2016, I sometimes  need stress relief.

Where do you find stress relief?

In a can?


In the refrigerator?


In books?


In travel?


In other creatures?


In things you can buy?












In boo boo kisses?

Tomorrow, I’m going back to work in Boston, Massachusetts, USA.  In two weeks, my only child is leaving for a five-year mathematics program in Edinburgh, Scotland.  In three weeks, I’ll be in Minnesota preparing for my first open heart surgery.

I don’t know about you, but I could probably use some stress relief.

Here’s the first thing I found on YouTube for “stress relief.”


Is it possible that leaving a comment for this post might provide stress relief for somebody?

I know that gratitude is great for stress relief, so thanks to all who helped me create this post and to you — of course! — for any stress relief you find or bring, here and now.


Categories: personal growth, photojournalism, Psychotherapy | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 63 Comments

Day 1235: How do you let go of stress?

Three hundred and seventy-seven days ago, I wrote and let go of a  post called “A dozen ways to melt away your stress.”

Here it is, over a year later, and I’m still working on letting go of stress. People in my therapy groups are still working on that, too.


I can’t stress enough how much stress comes up in therapy.

One way I let go of stress is taking photos.














Groucho Marx, who said “I intend to live forever, or die trying,” helps me let go of stress.

Here’s Groucho letting go of stress by setting limits and expressing his feelings:

Here‘s a documentary stressing the importance of Groucho Marx:

How do you let go of stress?

As usual, I’m going to end this post by stressing my gratitude for all those who helped me create it and to you — of course! — for visiting.

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism, therapy | Tags: , , , , , , , | 27 Comments

Day 1216: So what if …?

One of the stress-relieving “antidotes” I give people in therapy is this:

The So What? Technique. Consider that an anxiety-producing possibility (even the worst case scenario) might not be as bad as you fear. For example, “So what if this one person doesn’t like me? Not everybody is going to like me.” or “So what if I lose my cell phone? It’ll be an incredible hassle, but I’ll be able to deal with it.”

So what if …

  1. I’ve already blogged about this technique before, over a thousand days ago?
  2. I confuse the link icon with the quote icon on WordPress all the time?
  3. I considered many different topics for today’s post before I settled on this one and one of those other topics might have made a “better” blog post?
  4. “Better” and “worse” are relative and subjective?
  5. My patients have to do without me for one week while I’m on vacation?
  6. We can’t  please everybody all the time?
  7. Nobody’s perfect?
  8. It’s difficult to balance other people’s needs with our own needs?
  9. I dropped my iPhone this week and the glass is now a little cracked?
  10. Somebody tried to log into my Facebook account from India yesterday?
  11. I probably won’t get a call back when I audition for “The Voice” for the second time, in June?
  12. I might make some mistakes when I sing at an Open Mic next Friday?
  13. My son is going far away from home to the University of Edinburgh this year?
  14. Something always needs repairing and around here, it’s usually one of the two toilets?
  15. I can’t say “yes” to every social invitation?
  16. People are inevitably going to hurt other people’s feelings, some times?
  17. Not everybody is going to feel the same way about us that we feel about them?
  18. The flowering trees in the Boston area might not be as spectacular this spring, because of the April snow?
  19. One of our cats sticks to me like glue and the other one runs away from me?
  20. My cardiologist says I can’t ride mopeds or scooters any more?
  21. My son can’t attend the annual Sheepshearing Festival in Waltham, Massachusetts today with me and my boyfriend because he’s doing a run-through of another play he wrote with his friend Cameron?
  22. This list is so long that people might be skimming it, at this point?
  23. I keep adding to this list even after I published this post?
  24. These are the only pictures I have to share with you today?





So what if you can’t choose a favorite picture there?

So what if you don’t like this tune, which I LOVE?

So what if I never locate a copy of the Berklee College of Music recruitment video I helped create in the 1990s, which used that tune in the opening?

So what if people don’t leave a lot of comments about this post?

So what if I need to write another blog post approximately  24 hours after I publish this one? I love doing this, every day. Thank you for being a part of it, here and now.


Categories: blogging, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , | 27 Comments

Day 1215: Stress

Even though I stress stress as an important topic in my work and in this blog, I’ve only stressed the word stress in three previous post titles:

Day 508:  Stress, anybody?

Day 858:  A dozen ways to melt away your stress

Day 1067:  Anxiety, depression, and stress

Now, I’d like to stress the importance of a telephone exchange I had with my boyfriend Michael, last night, at the end of a stressful day at work:

Me: Michael,  I always get more stressed at work right before I’m taking time off, right?

Michael: Oh, I can’t tell the difference, baby.

I then released some stress by laughing out loud at the thought that even though it’s soooooo obvious to me when I’m feeling more stress, it might not be obvious to others, even those who know me very well.

Laughter is good for stress.

I also released some stress by laughing out loud  earlier this week, when a beloved friend — who also stresses a lot but doesn’t show it — stressed that her husband likes to liken her to a duck: calm and serene above the surface of the water while paddling rapidly, unseen,  below.

Let’s see, what else do I want to stress about stress, in this stressful post?

Are any of my pictures from yesterday related to stress?









One thing I want to stress about those photos above: I found the person who owns the yellow moped that looks EXACTLY like the one I owned and loved for decades before giving it away when I moved in 2011.  I’m afraid I may have stressed out the owner of that moped, yesterday morning:

(In a new Greek restaurant, near where the moped is always parked)

Me: Hi! I’m looking for the owner of the yellow moped outside.

Guy who works at Greek restaurant: That’s me. Why?  Is there a PROBLEM?

Note that I’m stressing the word “problem” in that exchange.  Why?  Because people tend to stress the importance of problems, and that causes stress.

After talking to the moped owner for a few minutes, I found out there is no way to determine whether that yellow moped and my moped are one and the same.  How stressed am I about that?  Not at all.

I don’t want to stress you out, but I cannot stress how much I love getting comments here. However, as I wrote in a therapy group last night, “It takes bravery to share. You need to feel safe enough to share. It’s okay to share or not share. You decide.”

I  am now deciding to share this stress-relieving music by Stevie Wonder  on my last work day before a week’s vacation.

In this stressful life, I like to stress gratitude, so thanks to all who helped me create this post. And I’d especially like to stress my gratitude to you for visiting this blog today.


Categories: group psychotherapy, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , | 33 Comments

Day 858: A dozen ways to melt away your stress

Yesterday, I saw a sign.

I recognize that melting away my stress is extremely important, because

  • I’m recovering from an operation I had earlier this week,
  • I’m the owner of a very unusual heart, which has outlasted most conventional predictions for longevity, and
  • I’m soon returning to work, where I do my best to help others melt away stress.

Therefore, I shall use the other photos I took yesterday in service of helping us all melt away stress.

Ready to melt?

#1. Spend time with friendly creatures


when you’re outdoors

or indoors.

#2. Be kind to yourself, applying things that help you feel better, including

chocolate, pleasing colors,

and every other little thing that gladdens each beat of your beautiful


#3. Keep away from real

as best you can, whether you’re far away

or close to home.

#4. Seek out the beauty that surrounds you, even if you have to spend some time and energy looking for it.


#5. Pay attention to helpful messages from the universe.

#6. Work at

… but let go of worry when communication does not go perfectly smoothly. In almost every case, you’ll have another opportunity to connect.

#8. Come to think of it, let go of worry (and other future-oriented fears) about EVERYTHING, including

#9. Help preserve —  or even transform — the world, as best  you can.


#10. Listen to more classical music

… whether it’s Spring or any other season.

#11. Indulge in your favorite things whenever possible (like, for example, a showing of the musical “Singin’ in the Rain,” with music performed by the Boston Pops, tonight).

#12. Make ’em laugh (and let them make you laugh, too).

Stress-free thanks to cats, to Boston and its surroundings, to Antonio Vivaldi, to Donald O’Connor, and to all those who help melt away my stress, including you!

Categories: inspiration, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , | 61 Comments

Day 508: Stress, anybody?

Stress is another word I have NOT used in titles of any of the preceding 507 posts I’ve written here.

The amount of stress I have about that, on a scale of 0 – 10?  0.

Sometimes, when I am pronouncing a name or a word I’m not familiar with, I’m not sure which syllable to stress.

The amount of stress I’ve had about that, on a scale of 0 – 10?  Let’s see.  How should I calculate this?  Well, I’ve felt SOME stress about mispronouncing things in my life, definitely. The stress number is higher at times when I’m pronouncing somebody’s name (I really like getting people’s names right). When I was younger, I think the number was higher in situations where I didn’t want to appear  ignorant or provincial in front of people I thought were more sophisticated than me. So how do I calculate a stress number in a situation where  (1) it was worse in the past, (2) I still feel stress in the present, every once in a while, and …

Okay.  This whole scale of 0 – 10 thing?  While I think it can be useful, to quantify feelings or experiences, I sometime stress out about doing it. Why?  Because it can be difficult to translate those things to numbers.

And treaters — including doctors, nurses, and therapists — DO ask that question, like so:

How would you rate that (anxiety, stress, pain, exhaustion, discomfort, depression, etc.) on a scale of 0 – 101?

I was asked a form of that question twice, recently — when I was hospitalized for pneumonia and then before I returned to work.  And in both situations, I started my answer with this:

I never know how to answer that kind of question.

Eventually, I did come up with a number. Then, I had these thoughts about the number:

I wonder if I’m doing this correctly?

I wonder if I’m communicating clearly, in a way that’s going to be helpful for me and the person who asked the question?

I wonder if other people struggle with this?

And I did feel some stress about that.

How much?


Anyway, I could list other stress-related memories and thoughts, right now, and try to communicate in a useful way about them, but I need to get ready to go to the hospital.

Hmmmm.  I actually haven’t communicated clearly what I need to do this morning, since I work at a hospital AND I get medical care at a hospital, too.

I shall be as clear as I can, right now, about my day:

  • At 9 AM, I am getting a stress test, to gain information about how my very unusual heart is reacting to physical exertion these days.
  • At 10:15 AM (approximately), I am receiving the results of my sleep study from March (which I blogged about — in a way people seemed to enjoy — here and here).
  • At 1:30 PM, I need to be back at work, because I’m scheduled to meet with somebody who is interested in joining  my therapy groups.

How much stress do I have about all these things?  Well, I don’t have time to rate, calculate, convert, compare, or otherwise quantify it.  I know there’s stress about this, somewhere.  And some of that stress might be “healthy stress.”

And I don’t have time to define “healthy stress, ” either.

I think it’s time for one of my “antidotes.”

I have all the time I need.

Here’s another one:



Also, when I was looking for that old photo, above, in my media library here, I found several more that helped reduce my stress. Here are a few of them:

IMG_3184 IMG_3235 IMG_3189


Okay!  This post is now good enough AND I can make it better.  How? With some photo(s) I’ve taken recently that would fit, well enough.

Do I have time to do that?  Sure, as long as I don’t write any captions, but just present the photos, like so:




How’s my stress level now?  Well, it’s not zero, because — before I leave — I still want to (1) express gratitude at the end of this post, (2) add some links (even though I think most people won’t click on them), (3) do a spell check, (4) check for typical pre-publishing glitches, (5) publish this, (6) find all the different clothes I need for today’s various activities, and (7) leave with enough time so I’m not rushing (even though I probably won’t feel ready to leave).

So I have some stress, but … maybe it’s the healthy kind!

Thanks, everybody.2

1  Sometimes, the scale is 0 – 100.  Does that make it less (or more) stressful? Not for me.

2 For reading, etc.

Categories: inspiration, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , | 38 Comments

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