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HOW TO: deal with stress in your own special way

by Christy Petterson

I�m stressed out. Plain & simple. The big craft event that I plan is in about a week and I while I know everything is going to turn out great my things-to-do list seems longer now than when I first got started. To top it off I have a million projects that are due at work, I need to spend some time figuring out my bills and I have family coming to visit just three days after my event so I need to clean my apartment. The bills are never fun, but the projects at work would be enjoyable if I wasn�t juggling so much. And I can�t tell you how excited I am to see my family. Cleaning for them would be a joy.

Ditching it all isn�t an option so I have to figure out how to get through the next week. There�s the usual tried and true�take a hot bath, go for a long walk, get a massage, drink hot tea, take a nap, talk to my mom or a friend on the phone. All of these things help me relax and relieve stress. They are all great for just a normal hectic day when I�m a little stressed, but this feels chronic so I need some new ideas. I�ve been pondering a time when I wasn�t so stressed, like my early childhood.

So what made me so happy as a kid that I can use as a stress reliever now? Well, when I took my morning walk today there was a sprinkler inconsiderately placed so that it rained on the sidewalk. Everyone walking in front of me ducked or went out into the busy street to avoid it. I ran straight through it! Sprinklers are the best! When I was a kid we just had your typical garden variety, but man, it would keep me happy for hours. And on walks when a sprinkler was showering the sidewalk it was an added bonus.

After completing one of the items on my long list last night, I found myself tap dancing in the kitchen. Shuffle, ball change, shuffle, ball change�those are the only moves I remember now, but when I was ten I felt like a super star in the annual recital with our flashy outfits and the stage lights shining down on my dance class. Nothing could have been more exciting. So now if I�m feeling triumphant I find myself doing a little tapping and I feel like a superstar all over again!

Running through the sprinkler and tap dancing are little spurts of stress relief, but I�d say the best way to delete stress from my life is to swing. Growing up we had a crabapple tree in my front yard with a wooden swing on it. I would spend hours out there swinging to my little heart�s content. There was a branch that I�d always try to hit with my foot that was almost out of reach. I�d have to swing really high to get it. I loved the swoosh in my ears and watching everything whiz past me. It was exhilarating! There was also a park a few streets over and it had the black rubber swings. These were much taller than my swing at home and I loved trying to get as high as possible on these when I got a little bit older. The sound in my ear was so fantastic I wished there were some way to record exactly what I was hearing. I felt really free flying through the sky.

I take the public transit from work every evening and then walk home from the train station. It is a long-ish walk but enjoyable because it is through a cool neighborhood with a park and bike & walking path that winds through it. Most days I try to walk at a pretty quick pace so I can get home after a long day at work. The first thing I pass on my route is a playground. I really don�t take much notice of it usually, but a couple of days ago I realized for the first time that there are black rubber swings there. I threw my bag down and hopped on. And for 5 minutes I was swooshing through the air, wind in my ears, not a care in the world. It was fan-tastic! And suddenly I didn�t feel so stressed anymore. It is hard to hold onto anxiety and tension when you�re flying through the sky!

Christy Petterson lives in Atlanta where she writes, sews, works in PR, organizes crafty events, roadies for her drummer-of-a-husband, eats the yummy food he cooks her, drinks coffee, goes for walks and spends time with her friends and family. She is currently hard at work getting ready for the Indie Craft Experience which will be in Atlanta on June 10.... www.ice-atlanta.com