...and exhale

i'm easily gratified. little things in life can make me smile and/or laugh. i think that's a good thing? when it comes to stressing out...well that's another thing i let myself do way too easy.

i've really been focusing on "de-stressing" lately after realizing that i'm way overstressed and it is was actually becoming noticeable in my day to day life. i'm not zen or chi, but i have been meditating. don't picture me with my index finger touching my thumb chanting, "hummmm......hummmm," cause that's ridiculous (in my opinion). it's more just about being somewhere comfortable and quiet and just "being" you. ya dig? another de-stresser i've been practicing lately (and has been really effective) is deep breathing. six seconds in, hold for four seconds, exhale for eight seconds. i do this four times and it's great...except the time i almost fainted (i tried exhaling too long). another odd practice (to me) that has been effective is guided imagery. you can do this along with deep breathing and make it a form of meditation. the basic goal of guided imagery is to focus on one thing/word and let your brain get lost focusing on this one thing/word. for me, i use the word 'peace' and it's worked great. yoga is awesome stuff, too. i'll admit it...i do yoga (it's to help my running!) some natural (and legal) herbs can really help, too. rhodiola rosea extract is good and is known to be mood enhancing. it helps maintain healthy cardiovascular function, can enhance memory and helps maintain healthy brain function. research also claims that it can be useful in improving work performance, improving sleep, appetite, reduce irritability, reduce occasional headaches and fatigue. umm....yes, please.

ok....there's plenty other things we can all do to de-stress, but what it comes down to is finding what works for you. one thing is for sure: stress in life is a given, but handling it properly can change your daily life.



the blues

listening to the blues is something i love to do. it's interesting that majority of the songs are sad (wonder how they got the name 'blues') but somehow it makes me feel so good. it could be the guitar parts, the amazing vocals, or even the beat of the drums. for some reason...the blues make me feel great!

speaking of the blues...i've been in this crazy running slump for the past few weeks. it's been really hard to go out and run. i know what you're thinking, "well tony...running is hard." although i agree...running has always been something i love to do and have fun almost the whole time doing it (almost = key word). so, for the past few weeks it's been freaking brutal to lace up my shoes and head out the door. it started with my job getting way more stressful/busier last month, so it involved me working longer hours and a lot of saturdays. a lot of my volunteer projects were/are in full swing and that takes up evenings. it's getting darker earlier now so any free evening i do have it's too dark to run by the time i get home. some sunday mornings i can make it out unless we have meetings early at Church and then i don't have time. i also complain a lot and that takes up time when i could be running. hmmm....

this running slump is exactly like listening to the blues. while i listen to one of my favorite blues songs, wednesday evening blues by john lee hooker, i hear him sing about his woman leaving him and a foot tap in the background and i can easily compare it to my running slump. bare with me here...i'm tying this together any second now. step inside my mind for a minute ('s crazy in here) and go for a run with me. if you listen to that song by john lee hooker it starts with a high note played several times and  goes into a sweet blues lick. that'd be the time when i'm trying to force myself to lace up my shoes and head out the door. he sings the first line, "you know she left me one wednesday evening..." and now i'm out the door running and it hurts. you can hear his foot tapping in the background so slow and it feels like my feet are hitting the ground at the same time as his. slow. he uses a real basic and simple guitar lick throughout the song. running is real basic and simple. the pain in his voice is like my breathing...i just can't get into a good rhythm like normal. the song is coming to a close and i am approaching the end of my run. nothing has really changed...his woman still left him and i'm still running. the only difference at the end is he got his stress out by playing that blues song and i got it out by making it through my run.

the point i'm trying to make is this (finally): although the blues are mostly sad and right now running is hard for me...i have to keep in mind how the blues (and running) make me feel afterward (which is awesome, remember). i think it was dean karnazes that said, "i've never gone out for a run and felt worse when i finished." this has been the case for me 100% of the time i run. i'm not a genius when it comes to statistics, but i think there's a good chance that next time i go out for a run...i'm gonna feel great when i finish. now where are my running shoes...