10, Jul, 2012

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Stress Management, and A Burgeoning Uneasiness With Facebook

img0974California will always be my home — I’ve been a California resident for 25 years. Since I currently reside in both Indianapolis and the San Francisco Bay Area, alternately, I have come to appreciate Indianapolis. For one thing, it’s a city built by, of, and for sports. I’ve never been a jock. I love to work out — it raises my endorphin levels and keeps my energy up — but the only sport I truly understand and get excited about watching is basketball. And Indy is a basketball fan’s dream. Thanks, Indianapolis!

Indianapolis is also the “Racing Capitol of the World,” as the Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s history stretches back to the origins of the automobile itself. Today I drove past the Speedway on my way back from a business meeting, and I began thinking about the word, “racing.” I’m not talking about racing as a sport or spectacle, but the idea that in these stressful times, so many of us spend our days racing from one commitment to the next, always rushing, pressured, and sometimes panicked by obligations, ambitions, and survival needs.

Employers demand more and more productivity from employees, and cutbacks, benefit reductions, and reduced hours seem to constantly squeeze staff. The average American household lost an estimated 40% of its wealth in the 2008 recession and years that followed. Whether you’re an entrepreneur or an employee, there’s a good chance you’re feeling the pressure to produce, perform, and compete to stay afloat. Many of us have taken on two, three, or even more jobs in order to make ends meet and provide for our loved ones.

img0972All that said, it’s no surprise when I find myself getting overwhelmed and frustrated. I’ve got a book coming out in October and am currently writing two more, one of which I hope to have completed by next summer. I write a blog for my website, and articles for magazines and corporate publications. And I am supposed to stay active on a variety of social media sites, but I confess I can only do social media in a half-assed way, especially now. And at the risk of sounding like a bummer, I am beginning to tire of Facebook. Their “privacy” stuff and sharing of information seems insidious to me, and although I am on FB, I’m using it less and less.

Okay, so when I get overwhelmed and frustrated, for whatever reason, I know it’s time to stop racing around my inner speedway and get centered. There’s no need to take lap after lap at top speed until you burn out. Rest, reflection, meditation, laughter and physical exercise provide excellent stress relief, and when I use these tools to get centered, I find I am much more creative, productive and fun to be around when I do get back to work. Mini-sabbaticals are really all I need: I can meditate for five minutes, or jump on my mountain bike and go for a long ride. Sure, there are no mountains in Indianapolis…California, I miss you! — but the riding is a rush, even on flat terrain.

What is your favorite stress reduction tool? Is it laughter, exercise, or meditation? Do you talk with friends, go out dancing, or listen to loud rock music and scream? Please feel free to share your stress management strategies with me. Lord knows, I appreciate any and all suggestions. After all, the Mayan Apocalypse is approaching…and if it doesn’t take us out with a bang, then it’s business as usual and back to stress management!

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