When August rolls around, it's hard to keep your cool, in more ways than one. As July fades away, I'm noticing everyone seems rude, less patient and downright hostile. All the neighborly good will we share around the Independence Day holiday degenerates into mighty uncivilized behavior.
We have a family tradition of seeing some games at Wrigley Field in the summer months, but last Friday's trip was ruined for us, not by the depressing performance on the field, but by some drunken loudmouths behind us who even harassed my elderly parents. (No, they were not Cubs fans -- they spewed obscenities at the players, too! "Why waste the money on a ticket?" I wondered.) I felt sorry for people around us who had children in tow, as the kids were getting not only a lesson in baseball but in excessive drinking, sexist attitudes toward women and profanity.
I just returned from a relaxing four-day jaunt to Door County, Wisconsin, but even there, it was difficult to slow down - if you dared to drive the speed limit, you were often greeted with the universal gesture of ill will and the dust kicked up from an SUV passing you. A shame, in so many ways. The speeders were wasting gas, creating tremendous stress for themselves and missing out on some of the most gorgeous scenery in the Midwest. You can't admire the view at 75 miles per hour.
I say all this but in the next breath I can find myself running out of patience, too. So what's the best way to chill out and keep your priorities straight? Have any suggestions you'd like to pass along to other PlainTalk readers? Music is often my way to de-stress - turn up the iPod and start singing along. A good book, even a bad book, can transport you to another place, far away from the summer heat and humidity. Walking and running on my treadmill help, too, and it's nice to turn anxiety or anger into something positive, namely a healthier you. The proverbial deep breath really can help when you're heating up, as can a prayer, a mantra, even just a visualization of something or someone that makes you very, very happy.
I can't guarantee your results, but I'll tell you something: after my hectic, sweaty, train-track walk at lunchtime today, walking back into the cool quiet of the Library was a major stress reliever! If that doesn't relax you, then check out something that will. We have more than one hundred books and DVDs on stress management - just follow that link and you can browse through a list. If that seems too much like work, then browse the DVDs for a funny flick or a breath-taking summer blockbuster. There are, of course, blogs and Web sites on every topic, including ways to ease stress. Some you might find interesting:
- Creative Relaxation Ideas from the blog "How to Cope with Pain."
- About.com's Stress Management site includes quizzes on "Job Burnout," Lifestyle, Pessimism, etc.
- Signs of a Happy Summer from the Chicago Moms Blog, "Cooler by the Lake"
- Ten Best Stress-Busters from Whole Living.com
Yes, that's a photo of the construction on the railroad tracks in downtown Des Plaines. The tracks are supposed to reopen on Monday, August 4, 2008. We will keep you posted if there is news to report.