Monday, April 27, 2020

Spring, Stress, and Salvation by Peggy Jaeger

April's topic prompt here on the RGs is Read and Renew. I'll discuss the read part of that phrase later in the post, but first I want to talk about the renew aspect.

There's a boatload of bad news in the world these days. I don't need to tell you that. You're all sentient beings who watch television, read papers, and follow social media. I want to talk, though, about what all this bad news, these horrible images, feelings of isolation, doubt, and just plain terror are doing to your body.

Yes, I said ARE doing, not CAN do. Unless you're the type of personality who never lets anything outside of your body effect what's on the inside, then you're experiencing some type of physical or mental stress right now. 



As an old nurse who was a devotee of the Florence Nightingale school of health care, I know what stress does to a person and how, if it's not curbed, can lead to a slew of longterm and chronic health disorders.

So, first a primer: What is stress, really? Put bluntly, stress is a physical, mental, or emotional event that causes tension on the mind and/or body. Stress can be caused by external forces (from the environment, psychological, or social situations) or internal ones (illness).

Well, I would say without a doubt that what we're all living through right now is the very definition of stress.

So, what does stress do to you? In essence, it can effect almost every organ and system in your body. Mentally and emotionally, it can leave you with symptoms of irritability, anxiety, depression, headaches.

It can throw your digestive system off kilter and make you produce more gastric acid which could lead to an ulcer, or acid reflex. You can get constipated, or worse, have diarrhea.  

Stress can leave you so emotionally wrung dry you start to sit, stand and move differently because your muscles are tense, tight, and restricted.

And I don't even want to go into the sexual and psycho-sexual aspects of stress. Suffice it to say, you won't be getting any any time soon if you're stressed. You won't be getting any sleep, either, not the restorative kind, anyway.

What can you do to lesson the stress on your little psyches and bodies when you've been ordered to shelter in place, not so much as breath on another human being, and keep back 6 feet or more?



First, you can take a breath. 
And then another. A few seconds or minutes of deep breathing every day in a quiet place without distractions goes a long way in alleviating mental stress.


Second, you can move. No, not to another house or city, but get some exercise. An outdoor walk is preferable, but if you can't get outside ( we are in quarantine kids!) you can walk on a treadmill or ride a stationary bike. There are even video walk programs that fake your body into thinking you've walked a mile. Leslie Sansone has a whole slew of them on youtube.


Third, we are all in this new normal together so we all know what you're feeling like. TALK TO one another about it. It's not complaining ( which is what my husband thinks I do!) but a way to share the stress and maybe even laugh about it.



And speaking of laughing - please do. Often. Find an old I Love Lucy or Seinfield on Netflix or Youtube and watch it. Then watch another. Or watch THE BIRDCAGE with Robin Williams - you're guaranteed to laugh at that one! Laughing raises your endorphin  and oxytocin levels which decrease stress.


Now, as a writer I would be remiss if I didn't mention one other way to alleviate stress - and in my writer's mind, the most important one:
READ!!

Preferably something you like, as in, oh I don't know...books? Romance books? One of MY romance books, maybe? 


Hee hee.

Read something light and airy like chick lit. Or fun and flirty like a good RomCom. Or, if you really want to stimulate those endorphins and get that oxytocin flowing, something dark and sexy and...erotic.

I've got a new Sweet romance coming out next month titled VANILLA WITH A TWIST that might be just the thing you need to rid yourself of that toxic stress.  It's part of my publisher's new summer series called ONE SCOOP OR TWO. VANILLA WITH A TWIST is about a workaholic engineer and an ice cream parlor owner. It's the perfect blend of angst, romance, second chances, and ultimately an HEA.
Tandy Blakemore spends her days running her New England ice cream parlor, single-parenting her teenaged son, and trying to keep her head above financial water. No easy feat when the shop’s machinery is aging and her son is thinking about college. Tandy hasn’t had a day off in a decade and wonders if she’ll ever be able to live a worry-free life.

Engineer Deacon Withers is on an enforced vacation in the tiny seaside town of Beacher’s Cove. Overworked, stressed, and lonely, he walks into Tandy’s shop for a midday ice cream cone and gets embroiled in helping her fix a broken piece of equipment.

Can the budding friendship that follows help fix their broken spirits and lead to love?
And check out the great book trailer our very own Gem, Nancy Fraser, produced for me: 


And one last way to alleviate some of your stress is to enter our 
MONTHLY CONTEST AND GIVEWAYS


Until next time, peeps. Get working on lowering those stress levels ~ Peg



32 comments:

  1. Good morning, Peggy. Great advice. That's such a cute cover on your new book. Good luck with it.

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  2. Excellent tips! Thanks for sharing, Peggy :)

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  3. I love the post--I think you're right on all counts.

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  4. Thanks for sharing, Peggy.
    D. V. 🍨

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  5. Wonderful post, Peggy! I love the four tips. I immediately started breathing deeper as soon as I read number 1 ! Your upcoming sounds cute. Love the title and cover!

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    1. Maddie - it sound so trivial but it really does help to calm us. And I need to be calmed right now!!!! Be well.

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  6. I cut way back on watching the news. I'm reading more. For some reason I've been cooking---a lot! Homemade bread, some of mom's old dessert recipes. This isn't good. I'm a stress eater lol Next time we make our grocery order I'm switching to healthy foods!
    I love Rom Coms!

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    1. Karen - cutting back on the news is an excellent way to stay calm!!! Brava!!!! I'm a stress eater and baker!! I will be auditioning for my 600 pound life soon!

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  7. Yup, I'm trying to read more, romance of course. Luckily I can also get outside because the weather here is pleasant. Looking forward to your new book. It's already on pre-order!!

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    1. Girl! I miss you!! And I am envious that you can get out in such beautiful weather.

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  8. Some great tips, and the book sounds like a fun story, a good way to relieve stress. But then ice cream is my favorite stress reliever. 😊

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  9. Great stress-busting tips. Your book sounds like a great de-stress exercise, too.

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    1. Kathleen - thank you!! I think any way we can relieve stress these ways is a good way!!! Well, except for illegal things. Hahahah!

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  10. Great advice Peggy. I read like mad during stress times. And a movie that never fails to make me laugh is The Goodbye Girl. Such cute dialogue that's delivered spot on by a young Richard Dreyfuss and Marsha Mason. It was on some channel this weekend and it was delightful.

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  11. OMG, Barbara - I love that movie! "We don't need the panties, drying on the curtain line!!!"
    So good. Neil SImon at his best. Thanks for stopping by. ANd keep writing!!!!

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  12. Your post is full of great advice.

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  13. Great lessons to remember. Thanks, Peggy. That cover draws me in. Take care. Keep destressing.

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  14. Hey Peggy! As usual great advice. Love your Vanilla with a TWist cover and can't wait to read it. Stay Safe as we explore the new normal together. LOL

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    1. The new normal is just what it is, Tena. Once we get used to things this way, everyone's stress level will decrease.

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  15. Enjoyed the post very much. Breathing helps me, but for some reason I always forget to do it!

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    1. Kara - I have to tell you I chuckled when I read your response because it's so true of most people. If breathing ( normally) weren't an autonomic response in our bodies, most of us would pass out from lack of oxygen!! hee hee. But seriously, taking a breath and holding it for a few beats benefits the psyche, the emotions, and your anxiety so much. I had the opportunity to get really mad at something today and my knee jerk reaction was to fire off a nasty-gram email. But I took my own advice, took a a few breaths, reread what made me mad, and realized I wasn't as angry about it any more, so I saved myself an angry email. It really does work.

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  16. Knitting is a great de-stresser for me.

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    1. Crocheting is for me, so score!!! Yay. I like to knit too but all I ever make is scarves and blankets - things that don't require patterns!!! hee hee

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  17. What a great post and so very true. I have PTSD and I have seizures stress only makes both so much worse. I have to work very hard to stay calm and peaceful. Reading is a big part of helping me to do that. Thank you for your tips. Hugs.

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  18. Msredk - First, I'm so sorry about the PTSD. As an old nurse I've seen how debilitating and terrifying that can be for people, so I'll keep you in my prayers. Second, good for you that you can find ways to counteract the anxiety that comes along with the affliction. Staying calm is hard in the world we live in right now, so BRAVA for you being able to remain so. thanks for your comments and for dropping by today.

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  19. ALL great points, Peggy! Things I try to do, but often times it's hard as we navigate this super-challenging time. Family, friends, and pets have helped me the most. It's been wild though, how my moods and body have fluctuated through all this. Like a mourning process. Even old wounds, like a twisted ankle, have given me grief again because I'm tied up in knots most days. Deep breaths... Thanks for a great reminder and share. Can't wait for your next release. 🙂

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    1. Kathy - our bodies respond to stress even when we don't know we're experiencing it. Sometimes I really think this is the universe's way of saying STOP! SLOW SLOW DOWN!! Bless you for being so supportive!

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