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RATTLED NERVES, RAGGED EGOS DEMAND A REST FROM STRESS

SHARE RATTLED NERVES, RAGGED EGOS DEMAND A REST FROM STRESS

You know, of course, that BLUE days are inevitable. If you live, say, to be 75 years old, your life will span 27,393 days. Some of those days have got to be BLUE.

Sometimes getting through the rotten days may be as simple as pulling yourself out of a mood you've settled into.Next time you're feeling low and life is dreary, select from these pick-ups to get your SELF going again.

- Take a walk and pay special attention to all that comes to you through your five senses. Experience the ordinary. There is much that is unusual and different if you only look for it.

- Hang a "Do Not Disturb" sign on the bathroom door and take a nice, long bubble bath. Bathing is good therapy for soothing rattled nerves and ragged egos.

- Reopen the door to an old friendship or write a letter to an old friend or relative.

- Leaf through your family photo album and count your blessings.

- Change your environment. If you've been indoors all day, get some fresh air. See a movie. Visit a museum. Plan a picnic. Take a hike or ride a bike. Or make a dinner date with a friend.

- Learn something new. Pick something you can master in a short time. Learn, say, the lyrics to a song or try a challenging recipe.

- If something has happened to you that triggered your bad mood, think about how much WORSE it could have been.

- Reward your SELF for all the good work you've been doing wth something special you've wanted for a long time.

- Keep a "Happiness Calendar." Buy a calendar with big blank squares for every day of the year and record when, where and with whom you've been most happy. Then read your calendar on your "blah" days.

- Decide it's "Be Good To Your SELF time." Indulge yourself with your favorite treat or buy yourself a present - a special book, a bottle of bubbling bath oil, a bouquet of flowers.

- Ask for a hug. "It's not hard to find a warm lap, once you admit that you need one," observe Gloria Norris and Jo Ann Miller, authors of an article entitled, "Are You a Mess from STRESS?" Just ask yourself: Who are the most caring people in your life? Your husband? Your wife? Your mother? A good friend? Perhaps even your children?

When you're tired and overwrought, tell other people what would help and give them the chance to care for you occasionally, whether it's serving you breakfast in bed or just giving you a warm hug.

- Do something different. For today, shop at a different supermarket, watch a different TV program, call someone you haven't talked to in a while, or arrange to meet a friend for lunch.

- Find something absorbing to do. Read a good book, do a crossword puzzle, people-watch, or listen to or play your favorite piece of music.

- Buy something new. "It's nice if you can buy a yacht and sail it to Bermuda," says Barbara Holland, author of "Got the Blues?" "If not, find a toy store and walk slowly up and down the aisles. Pick out a jigsaw puzzle or a set of jacks or a stuffed lion or a wind-up dog that runs around and barks."

Besides being cheaper than a yacht, a toy "soothes the child in us all. It's an unexpected present from the hands of invisible parents and makes us feel cherished. . . . This treatment works especially well when you feel the world is all mortgages and baked beans."

If you don't want a toy, buy a terrific shirt or blouse. Embrace the motto on one woman's T-shirt that read: "When the going gets tough, the tough go shopping."

- Give yourself a dollar bill or two and see how much you can squeeze from it. Art Cline, the author of the article, "The Great Joy of Feeling Fine," offers these ideas for your dollar:

- Buy a ball or a Frisbee and find someone to throw it with.

- Buy a frame and put a pretty postcard in it.

- Get a photo you like blown up.

- Buy a tiny plant or a flower.

- Buy the best piece of fruit you can find and eat it slowly.

- Buy a gadget for your kitchen.

- Buy a copy of an interesting paperback and give it to a friend.

- Give the dollar away.

- Live in your TODAYS and look around to see what you can enjoy RIGHT NOW. Dr. Harold Greenwald and Elizabeth Rich, authors of "The Happy Personality," tell a story of a woman who was told by her doctor she had inoperable cancer and, at most, six months to live. Ironically, reports Greenwald, the woman was relieved.

"Suddenly," the woman said, "the future was something I didn't have to worry about any more. I didn't have to worry about what I HAD to do - I could do anything."

Fortunately, or unfortunately, the woman's doctor was wrong. When she returned for a checkup, there was no trace of cancer.

"For a few minutes," the woman told Greenwald, "I felt overwhelmed all over again by the responsibilities I used to worry about. And then I realized the same thing is waiting for all of us, whether in a year or in fifty years. If I could be so happy living every moment of the last six months, I could do the same in the future."

So, despite the fact she was going to live, this woman decided to be happy anyway. "To this day, Greenwald reports, "she perceives her life as a gift - a perception absolutely fundamental to the way happy people see their lives."

- On a final philosophical note, give yourself permission to fall apart, to lose it, to get stressed-out once in a while. It's good for your character and for your psychological and physical health. Says one expert: "Falling apart can loosen the personality . . . setting the stage for bouncing back - for re-integration." Once people recognize they have a problem, they can begin to mend.