I was being paid to be a jester. Tupperware had booked the campus, and as a starving student, twenty-five dollars for dancing from one part of campus to another while dressed as a jester seemed like easy money. Wrong.
This is back when 25 dollars could buy a couple tanks of gas; not just one. It could be a week’s worth of food, and as I put on the jester costume, I could feel my wallet getting fatter. As I danced across a table, I thought to myself I only had to hop, skip and jump for about half a mile. I walked this same sidewalk four times a day, every day for a year. It was a piece of cake.
As I jumped off the table, my foot turned slightly sideways and I landed on the side bones of my little toe on my right foot. All my weight snapped the bones and I collapsed into a heap. But then I jumped back up and started to hop on my left foot. The conventioneers thought I was hilarious. I knew if I complained my foot was broken, I wouldn’t get the money for the part. I needed that money.
So I limped, jumped and cavorted along about half-a-mile so I could get paid. The doctor put me in a cast and I had to quit my job as the corn poker at the Del Monte plant. The insurance screwed up the billing and I got a ding on my credit rating from it, and I started working at another gas station.
It made me stressed. Stress is something we can’t avoid. How we deal with stress can determine how healthy we are, how long we live, how well we live. Stress is an everyday occurrence and there is no way to escape most of the stress we will encounter.
It may sound selfish, but unless you make some time for yourself, you may not have a self for very long. Dealing with stress by drinking, smoking, or using drugs or food to cope will only make the stresses worse. Learning to relax and doing things you enjoy may be the two best things you can do for yourself.
Things I find relaxing might not make your list. I can lose myself in the yard for hours at a time, and it is some of the most relaxing time I spend all summer. There are no deadlines in the yard, even though you may have a limited time to do the work. The weeding is done when the weeding is done, and it may not get done today, but it will get done. When you are planting with the hopes of a future harvest, the time it takes to get them all planted and ready to grow really isn’t important. The important thing is that they are planted well.
I even like to relax by jogging. There really is something about plodding along looking at the scenery, and doing something nice for myself at the same time. It turns out exercise is also another good way to deal with stress. Even just a stroll around the block to give yourself a break can break the back of stress.
In fact, one of the best ways to deal with stress is to do those things you like. Doing something for yourself, for even as little as 15 minutes a day can dissolve the stress that kills us unless we do something. Maybe you like bubble baths, talking to old friends, completing a crossword puzzle or listening to your favorite music. Whatever it is you have been neglecting to do because you have been too busy to sit down and enjoy yourself, you need to indulge.
Get a massage, meditate, take a yoga class, deep breathe, read a book, or just taking a few minutes for yourself to simply sit and relax. Pretend your doctor has written a prescription for you to relax in your favorite way every day. Set aside those 15 minutes for yourself, and don’t neglect the most important things you can do each day – take care of yourself.
It may not be your style to dance around campus in a jester costume, but if this is the way you relieve your stress, go for it. Just be careful when you jump off that table to make a firm landing. Otherwise you’ll get the chance to walk around in a cast, run after birthday presents, break the cast, and get another one. But that’s another story. Oh, and that’s another way to relieve stress. Find something, or someone you can laugh at. When we can laugh at our problems, or even the problems of someone stupid enough to hop across campus on a broken foot. It’s good against stress.
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