(Last blog on this subject. If you haven’t read Stress I and Stress II, shame on you.)
Don’t despair about this stress thing. Just follow the instructions below and you’ll soon be coming to a place of sublime tranquility or splendorous serenity. Eh, just pick one of those. What?? You thought you could have sublime tranquility AND splendorous serenity? Hey, let’s not get too greedy here.
If you wanna live longer, then don’t hold a grudge. That’s what everyone says. Me? I like grudges. I’ve always liked grudges. Heck, there are a lot of people that I know that deserve to be a-grudged. Yeah, grudges – they’re some of my few pleasures in life. Should I banish grudges from my repertoire of antisocial personality traits just to let my heart have a placid interval free of strain and stress (and free of high cortisol – the offending hormone)? Gee, that’s a big sacrifice. And to do it just to live a half a dozen years longer? I dunno, I’ll have to think about it. … Okay, I thought about it. No more grudges.
Well, but just to show you how flexible and how willing I am to make concessions these days, consider this: I no longer scream bloody murder when I see an automobile with Joysey plates. Which reminds me, I was on the Merritt the other day, bumper to bumper in the left lane and stuck behind a guy in a Ford SUV with his left blinker going uncontrollably. And wouldn’t you know it, there was that urine-colored plate from that garden paradise state staring at me only a few feet away. God almighty! Bumper to bumper and I gotta be stuck behind this Joysey doofus all the way to Norwalk (I had to buy some underwear at Walmart’s) while this loser neglects to shut off that damned signal light. On and off, on and off – it’s making me nauseous. I’m having migraines. I can’t stand it! And it’s the shmuckeroo’s left blinker. Where in tarnation does he think he’s turning? Into the median? What a complete and total dork!
But wait. Then I remembered that this was the NEW ME, and I reminded myself that I could use one of the new techniques I’d learned to cope with in situations like this from my 150 dollar an hour shrinkapoo. To reduce my extreme mental distress, I started to meditate. Yeah, should of thought of that while I was thinking that the Joysey urine-colored plate was probably chosen so that it clashed with every GM color scheme. I don’t even think the Alpine Green goes with that pale yellow stain. But now the NEW ME was thoughtfully thinking positively, considering how very fortunate I was not to live in that garden paradise across the Hudson. And soon I was in a relaxed state, breathing easily, unruffled and peace-loving … despite that SOB.
And listen to this. I was on line at my Shop Rite yesterday, and hoping for a speedy exit because there was only this one person in front of me. I was feeling my oats because I’d rushed to the shortest line, having beaten out this pugnacious blond you know what, with her kid sitting in the front of her cart. Hey, I got grey hair! Come on lady! A little respect, okay? Anyway, I beat her, so, ha! Tough nuggies, sweetie!
Turns out, I should never have gotten on that line. There was a woman (another one) in front of me, (Editor’s Note: Guess what? I think our Lao Du blogger is an A1 male chauvinist pigarooney.) and I just sensed something was wrong with her. Trouble! That’s what she was, trouble. Sure enough, a few seconds after I put my stuff on the belt (all nutritious, except for the croissants which I treat myself to weekly), the light overhead flashes, which is the way the cashier calls for the manager. It’s usually for a key that cures everything in the cash register. Frankly, I never understood this key thing. I mean the cashier has total control of that cashbox, why does she need the guy with the damn key? Ah, well, just one of life’s mysterious secrets. Well, anyway, that infernal light keeps flashing, but the manager is nowhere to be found. C’mon, the light is flashing, it’s an emergency. Where the hell are you? Nobody’s doing a thing, we’re just waiting around and my blood pressure is rising – I can feel it. It’s either that, or I’m having an MI. All I know is that I can’t take this. I should be home already, watching a rerun of Leave It To Beaver (it’s where I get all my family values).
Finally, the slower than molasses in January manager is able to make his way to our line and, predictably, puts his key in the right hole to make everything hunky-dory. That’s better. The flashing overhead light is now just a distant dreadful memory. Things are looking up. Well, not quite. This woman has a sackful of a gazillion coupons and is paying by check – which means bye bye to Leave It To Beaver and I’m probably gonna miss most of Perry Mason, too! How can I possibly enjoy the day until I know who the killer on Perry Mason is, huh? (Ya, know, now that I think of it, I’d also like to see a few murders on Leave It To Beaver.)
Holy smokes, all of a sudden I remember what I learned in Ping Pong Parkinson. Breathe to relax, I can hear the instructor calling out. And let’s do the The Standing Tree, she always says. Yes! Yes! So I do exactly those things. I take deep slow breaths and stand on one leg with my arms neatly folded above my head. And guess what? I’m feeling better. A lot better. It’s the NEW ME! But then that flashing light goes on again. And the cashier, who must have activated it, is looking at me like I’m from Mars. She obviously wasn’t sophisticated enough to be familiar with any asanas – yoga body postures – so I wisely decided to end my perfect Standing Tree when the aforementioned manager, the key guy, suddenly makes a second appearance near the packing person. I heard him whisper something about getting the men in the white coats, but he justly retreated when I quickly stuck my credit card into the machine. (Money talks, and I guess the sound of ka-ching from the cash register didn’t sound crazy.)
You don’t think I’ve changed? Wrong. This last thing will prove it. Remember the bomb shelter that I told you about that I’m building at the back of my house. Well, instead of fending off all the neighbors Alamo-style, I’m going to allow one or two to come in. I mean I really do have plenty of food stored in there – mostly tuna fish. I figure to let a chosen few of them eat the Bumble Bee Albacore while I take the chunk light StarKist (it has less mercury).
Okay, here’s the take home: Reducing stress is important for everyone and especially for those with Parkinson’s Disease. Stress makes Parkinson symptoms worse.
Summary: Lao Du’s Rules to reduce Stress: Take deep breaths, do yoga and tai chi, sleep 8 hours, eat nutritious food, exercise, lay off the Chesterfields and Pall Malls, don’t booze, be nice to others, try to be patient and tolerant, be aware of your thoughts (neutralize destructive thoughts about New Joysey by using cognitive therapy), listen to music (and play a musical instrument), don’t drive on the Merritt Parkway or the Hutch during rush hour (which is now all day), try not to argue with your girlfriend or wife (ditch her/him or get a divorce if you have to – prolonged emotional stress is a killer), try not to get an infectious disease (wash your hands and use those alcohol hand sanitizers), hang out with some friends (join Ping Pong Parkinson – everyone needs to avoid isolation and everyone requires emotional support), talk to a shrink or a counselor if need be, think positively and use a sandpaper racket when playing ping pong. Oh, and make sure your vaccinations are up to date and that your passport is in order when you cross the George Washington Bridge. Lao Du