Stress Smoke Signals
by Mark Gorkin

Standing in a crowd at a party, years ago, I was crowing about my new workshop:

"Rebuilding the Fire: Burnout Prevention to Positive Stress." A passer-by, called out,

"Forget the fancy title. Just call it 'Getting Up in the Morning.'" She saw through my smoke. But are you aware of your stress smoke signals? Can anyone relate to my "Three 'B' Stress Barometer: How does your Brain-Body-Behavior tell you when you're under more stress?

 Exhaustion. Does this after work ritual sound familiar? As soon as you get home, you turn on the TV, hit the fridge, get out the Haagen-Dazs or Ben & Jerry's, collapse on the sofa, and you're comatose for the rest of the evening? And this is on a good day!

 Sleep Patterns. Now some people do crawl further and further under the covers or keep piling on blankets to block out the slightest hint of morning light. Perhaps, you're an obsessive-compulsive type who, in the middle of the night, wakes up screaming, "Dust, dust, where is there dust?" Do you somnambulate nightly with the computer, checking and composing email in your sleep? Or do you know all the best buys at 3 am on the QVC Cable TV home shopping channel?

Eating Patterns. When doing a workshop, I sample the audience: how many people tend to eat when feeling anxious or depressed? Just about the whole group raises their hands. Then I ask, "Are there any folks who lose their appetite when stressed? A few hands flutter. My immediate reply: "Of course, we hate these people!"

Sighing. Do you find yourself increasingly engaged in labored breathing or deep, heartfelt sighs? When do you often hear people engaged in deep and heavy sighing and breathing? (Other than when you call those 900 numbers.) Basically, when they are overwhelmed by demands and are increasingly losing that sense of control. Email me for information on how to join my on-line stress support group - "The Frequent Sighers Club." Believe me, with so many folks seething in their breathing, this group will take off.

Boredom. Does your long-standing niche of success now have you stuck in the ditch of excess? The routine is making you mean and green...less with hard-earned money and more with hardened envy. You may be experiencing what overcame the tennis great, Bjorn Borg. The Swedish star, after winning a slew of tournaments, suddenly burned out on the circuit. It's The Bjorn Bored Syndrome: "When Mastery times Monotony provides an index of Misery!" The key: Fireproof Your Life with Variety. (Reader beware: This is not an endorsement for cultivating a cyber harem of virtual lovers.)

The next two newsletters will list additional smoke signals and then provide some quick Stress Doc Stress Busters. Till then, just remember, Practice Safe Stress!

You can e-mail the Stress Doc @