It’s no secret that this has been a pretty…trying past two years.
We’ve all been hit with our own special set of challenges due to this pandemic. Stress has become something that far too many of us have in common, with money, work, family, economic outlook, and relationships being the main sources. And we all have our own ways of dealing with it.
Some use exercise. Others utilize therapy or other forms of support systems. Hobbies, playing sports, and reading are other ways people battle the potentially debilitating effects that stress can have on us if left unchecked. Headaches, insomnia, and high blood pressure are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the unpleasant results of not dealing with the stresses that affect us, not to mention the effects stress has on our mental health thanks to its close cousins, anxiety and depression.
With April being Stress Awareness Month, it’s a good time to check in with yourself about how you’re doing, how you’re feeling, and how you can better deal with whatever might be going on with you. Maybe you’re stressed about work. Maybe COVID has claimed some of your loved ones, or even hit you at some point. Since stress can trigger overeating, maybe looking in the mirror has become less enjoyable due to weight gain. Or – let’s just be real about it – maybe you’ve turned to alcohol or drugs to try to numb the pain or temporarily forget about what you’re going through.
It's different for everybody. But what’s universal is that stress, in large doses, can be detrimental to our health.
If you’re unable to totally remove yourself from situations or people that are stressing you, work on how you react to it. Here are a few suggestions for that:
There are some things we simply cannot change, and working ourselves up into a ball of anxiety and frustration won’t help. When you feel yourself getting worked up, take some deep breaths and switch your mind onto something that calms you, whatever that may be. Cute little pudgy babies, nature stuff, puppies…
Let it out. Find a way to vent and release. This can be through a counselor, pastor, therapist, or even a trusted friend. Some find journaling very therapeutic. Others like to get physical and do some kickboxing or going to a smash room (though that one sounds fun whether you’re stressed or not).
What calms you? Yoga? Cooking? Volunteering? Crossword puzzles or coloring books? Maybe you like to get creative and do some pottery or draw or knit. Even something as simple as watching a funny movie or television show, or getting in a few mindless games of Bejeweled. Whatever it may be that mellows you out, dive into it.
Socializing. Whether you’re an introvert, extrovert, or ambivert, there’s something to be said for community and the energy that can come from being around positive, like-minded, supportive people. There’s nothing wrong with alone time (it’s often necessary), but loneliness is no more a friend to our mental health than stress is. Even if it’s just through a phone or video call, connecting with other people can be like plugging the charger cord into your morale and motivation. (Just remember the ‘positive, like-minded, supportive’ part because engaging with the wrong people can have the opposite effect and drain you).
Hopefully you get the idea. There are plenty more ways to deal with stress, but whichever one you choose, hopefully it’s something that will help relieve that burden from you.
And don’t forget that you can always check out [company name removed] for a whole other batch of resources; for an extra bonus, they even extend to immediate family members.
Self-care isn’t just a trendy concept, it’s a necessity. Things will always come up in life, so stress isn’t going anywhere. But hopefully, we can all get better at slamming it down when it starts to pop up, like the proverbial whack-a-mole. We owe it to ourselves.
Got Stressed Employees? Give 'em the Chair
Let’s meet Camille.
The alarm clock starts blaring at some absurdly early hour. Camille rolls out of bed (perhaps with a groan), and mumbles about how it seems like she just laid down as she tries to get her mind right for the day ahead. Perhaps she also has kids to get ready for school, a pet to walk and feed, or a spouse that needs her attention in some way before she can concentrate on getting herself ready.
Eventually, Camille grabs her coffee, her briefcase, and heads out the door, mentally preparing herself for the morning commute to the office.
When she arrives, she barely has a chance to boot up her computer before she’s accosted by her boss or other coworkers with the first crisis of the day.
Just like that, Camille is tense, feels a headache coming on, is a little irritated…and immediately wishes she had called in sick.
Sounds like Camille might be a little stressed, huh?
She’s not alone. A 2013 study showed that forty percent of office workers were under “dangerously high” levels of stress. A lot of this is due to things like increased workloads, job insecurity, feeling under-paid and under-appreciated, longer work hours, etc. And stress among office workers can lead to things like:
· Becoming unpleasant or withdrawn towards coworkers
· Less concern with their appearance
· Often showing up late to work
· Emotional outbursts
· Missing work altogether due to sickness or muscular pain
Yes, sickness can be an effect of stress on the body. So can headaches, irritability, high blood pressure, anxiety, insomnia, and a ton of other awful things.
Now, how effective do you think someone can be for you, dealing with one or more of these? Not very. Certainly not as much as you would probably like for them to be.
So…what can be done about it?
You can help your employees (and therefore your business) with a simple fix
True enough, work might not be the only source of your employees’ stress, but oftentimes, it’s a large chunk of it.
What if I told you there was a simple, relatively low-cost way to help alleviate your employees’ stress and make your company look good, to boot?
Two words: chair massage.
More and more massage companies and independent therapists specialize in office chair massage, which means you could start pushing those stressors of employees like Camille downhill in no time.
Some benefits of chair massage in the workplace are:
· Raised morale
· Increased productivity
· Lower costs than some other benefits
· Preventative against common office ailments (i.e. carpal tunnel)
· Reduced absenteeism
If you put the benefits of chair massage next to the causes of stress, you can see that chair massage can alleviate or reduce most of them.
Massage is often looked at as a luxury, but it’s also becoming more and more recommended by doctors as a part of treatment plans. And in the case of your employees, it’s a benefit that’s very much worth it to keep them at optimal levels for your business. So it’s not just benefitting them; it’s benefitting you, also.
Worried about chair massage sessions cutting into work time? That’s one of the great things about chair massage and what makes it perfect for office settings: they’re quick. A ten or fifteen session is more than enough time to reap the benefits of a good chair massage; that’s as long as a normal break.
And of course, since no clothing has to be removed, they can just pop right up afterwards and get back to work, feeling revived, rejuvenated, and undoubtedly in a better mood.
You need your employees to keep your business running. Implementing a regular chair massage schedule in your office helps to ensure that the employees are as successful as you want them to help your business be.
My Top Five Funniest Moments as a Massage Therapist
Being a massage therapist is something that some people don't even know about me, but once upon a time, it was what I did full-time. And I absolutely loved it.
I got to pretty much set my own schedule doing something I actually enjoyed, take off when I wanted to, didn't have to worry about how many PTO (paid time off) hours I had, and I wore the same thing to work every day so I didn't have to go through the headache of picking out clothes every night.
But I needed something more consistent and stable (and with benefits for me and my son), so I ended up taking a regular 9-5. I still do massage therapy on the side, but there are times that I really miss it being my main thing.
There were some times, though, when it wasn't so enjoyable. Other times when it produced OMG, freak-me-out, is-this-really-happening-right-now moments. Thankfully I can laugh at them now. *smile*
So here are my top five funniest moments as a massage therapist (in no particular order):
1. When a woman's skin came off in my hands
Okay, maybe not literally...
But when I was working at a wellness center, I was giving this woman a massage. Everything was going fine...then I started to feel this strange friction, like something was rubbing off as I massaged. I looked down and my palms were almost completely black.
Talk about a freak-me-out moment. The room was dim and I tried to see what the heck it was on the back of her thighs that was coming off like that, but I swear to you, it looked completely normal. Thankfully she was lying prone (face-down) at the time so she had no idea what was going on. I just subtly wiped my hands on the sheets (leaving a significant stain) and continued on with the massage. Never said anything to her about what happened.
2. The guy with the breasts
One of the requirements in massage therapy school is getting a certain number of practice hours outside of class, so I hit up a lot of family and friends asking them to be my guinea pigs.
One guy I knew from back in the day agreed to let me practice on him. I went to his house and after we did the obligatory what's-been-going-on-with-you chat, I started getting set up while he went to get ready.
When he came down, my eyes were immediately drawn to his chest. Not because he had rock-hard pecs, but because he had perkier breasts than I do. It was the last thing I was expecting, and I had to fight to avert my eyes and keep my face neutral.
But my eyes kept straying back to them all on their own. I felt like some kind of perv.
(And this is not meant to shame him in any way; it was just shocking at the time since I'd never seen that before. Ever).
3. When they treated my massage business like some kind of escort service
So when I was still doing mobile massages, this guy calls and asked me to come over and give him a two-hour session. Cool, no problem.
Got all my stuff, drove to his house, got set up...was all ready to get started. I noticed that he didn't seem to be in any hurry to get ready, though...he was still in his work clothes, sitting around making small talk with me. When he finally did get up and leave the room, presumably to get undressed, he came back fully-clothed, with drinks, and asking if I wanted some dinner.
Long story short, I never did give him that massage; all we did was talk and eat. He just didn't want to spend the evening by himself. And he still paid my fee.
4. When a client showed up to my house unannounced
This one wasn't all that funny at the time. I can kinda chuckle at it now, I guess.
When I was building my mobile massage business, I had the brilliant idea to put an ad online. Since I didn't have a storefront and the business was mobile, there was no need to list my address on the ad. But apparently, the rep used my home address in the listing without me realizing it.
So one night, I kept getting calls from some man, asking where I was located. I told him, repeatedly, that my business was mobile; I didn't have a salon or anything. He didn't seem to believe me, though, and after a while I just started ignoring his calls. I figured that was that.
Next thing I know, a cab pulls up in my driveway. The taxi driver knocks on the door and asks if this is where BodyBliss (the name of my mobile massage business) was located. I said no, this was my home. A man in the taxi called out that this was the address on the massage listing, and I recognized his voice as the one that had called me repeatedly earlier. I just said there must have been some kind of misunderstanding (the taxi driver agreed; he said he had told the guy he thought they were in the wrong place) and they left. I closed the door, literally shaking. OMG moment.
So I don't really do the mobile massage anymore...
5. When he got naked and expected me to get naked, too
I don't remember how I met him, but this male massage therapist and I were talking about being possible massage partners...you know, someone to trade massages with once a week or so. When you're a massage therapist, having a good massage partner is golden, because we're often giving massages more than we're getting them, and our bodies need them as much as anyone's.
So we agreed that I'd come over and we'd trade massages to see if we liked each other's styles and all that. There were some immediate red flags that should have sent me running right back out the door, by my relative naivete` at the time kept me there:
Red Flag #1: As soon as I walked through the door, he was commenting on how beautiful he thought I was. When I recalled this whole incident to one of my massage instructors later, he said I should have checked him on that right then...let him know that I was there strictly as massage therapist and I should be respected as such. At the time, I just thought it was a nice compliment.
Red Flag #2: He wasted no time getting naked. Before I had even put my stuff down, he was as naked as a raw chicken, drawing the curtains. Now, massage clients wanting to get naked is nothing new and no big deal. But they're always under a sheet...I never actually see their full-on nakedness right out in the open. But dude was just walking around hanging free like it was the most natural thing in the world.
Red Flag #3: When he was giving me my massage, he insisted I remove my bra. His reasoning was that he wanted to be able to access my entire back, and he never tried anything or touched me inappropriately, but still. That kind of thing is supposed to be up to the person getting the massage...a therapist isn't supposed to insist they remove anything they're not comfortable with (heck, I've had to massage people through jeans and t-shirts before).
Red Flag #4: The sexual-sounding moaning. If you're a fan of the shows Modern Family or Friends, you might remember episodes where Claire and Monica (respectively) were doing a lot of loud moaning and talking as they were getting massaged, as if someone was sexually pleasuring them. Well, that was this dude. When I was massaging him (insert another red flag here, because he didn't want to use a sheet), and I was massaging his upper inner thigh as he requested (red flag...remember, he's naked) he started doing all this moaning and writhing, as if I was giving him some kind of happy ending. If you had been listening from another room, you would swear there was some fellatio going on. Definitely an Is-this-really-happening-right-now moment.
As soon as we were done, I got my stuff and got the heck out of there. Needless to say, we didn't become massage partners after that.
After doing massage in several places for several years, there are more stories I could share, but these are definitely the top five. Fun stuff, huh? LOL
Relationship Posts: Which kind of couple are you?
No doubt we're in the social media age. It's so easy to post stuff, track stuff, be able to communicate with people that you never would be able to twenty years ago, and spread information with the click of a button.
In a lot of areas, this is a great thing. If you're running a business or representing a cause, or just want to get the word out about something, social media makes it incredibly easy to do that. But when it comes to personal relationships, it also makes it easy to over-share.
Of course, this is a matter of opinion. What one person thinks is too much information might not be enough for somebody else. But just speaking generally.
Just how much of our personal relationships, namely our romantic ones, should we share with the world?
I've broken it down into three general categories:
The Lights-Out Couple - You know they're together, but you know very little about their relationship. You almost never see any pictures of them anywhere. Their social media posts consists of everything but their relationship. Sometimes on special occasions they'll post a cute couple pic or give a shout-out, but that's about it. They certainly acknowledge each other; they've got nothing to hide. They just don't care for the world to see their business.
The Teaser Couple - You'll see stuff from them here and there, only on a somewhat-steady basis. Special occasions, like an anniversary or birthday, or just something random. It's just enough to make you wanna see a little more, but you never know when that next post is gonna be.
The Timeline-Flooder Couple - "All right, we get it! You're in love or whatever!" This is the couple that posts all day, every day. Pictures, tagged quotes, GIFs...anything that will remind their followers and friends that they are boo'd up. They are proud of their relationship, and they want to share their joy with everyone. Constantly.
Certainly, what people choose to put out there is totally their prerogative. If you and your bae are on the same page when it comes to that, then go for it.
However, if most of your moments are more public than they are private, it does beg the question: What are you trying to prove? Why do your followers need to see screenshots of your lovey-dovey text conversations? We already figure you talk to each other.
Or tagging them in things on social media to ask them questions that could just as easily be done in a private message?
Or posting pictures of you two in bed, letting us all know you're about to get your groove on (or you just finished)?
Hey, I'm no prude. I love to see people in love. But there are times when I've seen posts that were almost uncomfortable to look at, just because they were so personal. For example, one time a Facebook friend posted a screenshot of him and his woman on Facetime, and it was clear she was topless. Couldn't believe my eyes.
Look, you're grown; if you wanna get your cyber freak-on with each other, have at it. But good lord, does everybody really need to see that?
I'm sure a psychiatrist could write an entire thesis on why people do this kind of thing. Maybe they were lonely for years and are now over-compensating. Maybe they grew up in a household that's very open and shares everything, and they carry that over into their relationships. Maybe they're coming from a crappy relationship and are so thrilled to be in a good one that they just can't keep it to themselves. Who knows.
But God forbid you break up. Then what are you gonna say? Are you gonna explain why we're no longer seeing the two of you making out in front of the grocery store or are you gonna act like everything is everything? Can you handle the questions about what happened? ('Cause you know folks are gonna ask).
I don't want to be that person that turns what is meant to be a positive thing into something negative. Like I said, if you and your boo are good with posting all of your business, and you can live with whatever comes from it, then that's all that really matters. At the end of the day, everyone has a right to share as much or as little as they wish.
So, what category do you fall into?
How Looking at Men's Butts Helped Inspire Me
One thing I see a little too much of is men walking around with their pants hanging down below their butts.
For the life of me, I will never understand how or why they think this is cool. And in the case of the teenagers that come into the recreation center where I work at night, why their parents don't check them on that.
Or maybe they're part of that rebellious bunch that do it regardless of what their parents say.
Or the sneaky bunch that dress one way at home and change things up once they leave the house (I personally used to sneak and wear makeup).
This is exactly the kind of thing that inspired the character Sylvia in my new book, Backtalk.
She's a rebellious teen who loves getting the boys' attention. And of course her mother doesn't allow the sexiness that Sylvia thinks will accomplish this, so she loves to have entire outfits stashed in her bookbag to change into once she gets to school.
And makeup, which she's not above stealing from the local drug store.
Know anybody like this?
I can't wait for you to read about Sylvia's antics. There are a lot of them.
You can pre-order Backtalk via the link below. Be sure to save your receipt; I'll send you something special, if you do.
Lie and still get the guy
We've always heard that things like honesty and transparency were important things when it comes to relationships.
What if I said it doesn't have to be?
Now, before you think I'm saying its okay to go out and lie to everybody, let me clarify what I'm saying here.
You know how you go on vacation, or even just out on the town, and you take on an assumed name? It could be because you don't want any losers knowing who you really are, because you want to take on a whole new persona, or because you just think it's a fun thing to do...but you pick a cool name and pretend to be someone else for a while.
Then you meet someone. Someone you actually want to keep in contact with after that evening. But you can't very well tell then who you really are now, can you? They might think you're nuts.
What if you pretended to be your own twin?
That's what Tonnette did in my book She is Me. And it was a very interesting chain of events that came from that little white lie, let me tell you.
Click here and read all about that fun.