7 ways to decompress and de-stress

Let’s face it. We live in a busy world and stress seems to be like that annoying friend that wants to tag along for just about every ride. It is so easy to become overwhelmed and let it get the best of you. While these past 12 months have been one for the record book, I have learned ways to help me cope. From relationships and friendships ending, to family drama and getting laid off, to applying for jobs and starting my own business, to seeing 20 apartments in a week in a city far from home and then uprooting my life and everything I know, you could say it hasn’t been a smooth joy ride. Being spontaneous is fun and exciting and I am looking forward to new adventures but leaving myself only 13 days to sell ALL the things, sublet and pack, makes things a little more rushed. And now saying goodbye to family, friends and Chicago isn’t easy either. Oh, and just today my parking garage accused me of not paying this month despite depositing my check on Jan 2. So yea, these past few months have been challenging and finding ways to unwind, cope and de-stress was crucial.

Everyone handles stress differently so here are my top 6 ways I decompress.

1) FIND ME TIME: Go for a walk. Disconnect from technology. Get a mani/pedi. Take a yoga class. Write. Work out. Plan my next adventure. Sing in the shower. Rock out to music in my apartment and sing and dance around in my underwear. (You cannot not smile! You know you’ve done it too.) Light candles. Have a glass of red wine. Browse and pin on Pinterest. Meditate. (Still learning) and I’ve tried the bubble bath thing and it is nice for maybe 4 minutes. Then I get bored. But maybe that will work for you. Anyhoo, it is important to find time for yourself to be alone, reconnect with your self, to reflect and recharge. I try to focus inwardly on me and escape from the outside chatter.

2) WATCH TV. Sometimes it is nice to sit on the couch, not talk to anyone, let your body fall deep into the cushins and just relax and escape into someone else’s life for a bit. Escape into another world.

3) 90’s MUSIC. Apparently this is a thing for me. Just the other day, I was so angry, I might as well have had smoke coming from ears. Since I was in the car, there was nothing I could do so I cranked up the volume and let myself get lost in the music. Chicago has an awesome new radio station 101.1 (they play pretty much only 90’s music, check it out!) and I could feel my blood pressure returning to normal. Besides 60’s and 90’s being my favorite decades, I think the nostalgia helps too. By time I reached my destination, I was calm.

4) BAKE. Lately, especially since I got my Kitchen Aid, I like to bake when I get stressed. It takes my mind off said issue and makes me focus on the ingredients and helps me redirect my attention towards something that I can give to others to make them happy, thus making me happy. What?? I’m Jewish. We like to feed people!

5) BE POSITIVE AND GRATEFUL. Focus on the positive silver lining of said situation. Find something positive or something that you are grateful for and think about that. Stop and think, is this really worth getting upset over?

6) CLEAN AND ORGANIZE. I’m not your narcotic clean freak but I do like to keep everything in its place and tidy. There are times when I admit, I let pile of mail build or that something isn’t put away. My place is never messy but occasionally not as clean as I prefer. But it works out because sometimes when I need to unwind, I find cleaning to be strangely satisfying. I’ll vacuum, reorganize my closet, clean the kitchen, do the laundry or put away anything that isn’t already in its place. There is something about calming about the smell of lavender or lemon and getting lost in thought. I’ve never found doing laundry a headache, rather, its always been a way to reset and refocus.

7) PLAY GAMES. It doesn’t matter if it is a card game, a board game or a video game. I like games. Always have. So when I want to decompress, gaming is a great distraction. It’s a quick and easy way to escape into the virtual world where you can die 20x but keep coming back without it flashing Game Over. Whether it is an old school Nintendo game, a racing game, a dancing game or even an adult-focused killing video game like #FarCry3, video games are a great way to escape and de-stress for a bit. The graphics on this Far Cry 3 game are incredibly real. What Caryn plays those violent killing games? Yes, killing games aren’t just for boys. I like the competitive nature, the escape, and the challenge it provides. I like being able to keep up with the guys. Don’t get me wrong. I DO NOT condone violence in the real world but sometimes in these games, it is one quick and harmless way to release tension. *

{How do you decompress to eliminate stress?}

Far Cry 3

*It is important for people to make the distinction between games and real life.

Thank you to Ubisoft for sponsoring this post. Please visit Amazon.com to get your own copy of Far Cry 3. I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective. All opinions are my own.

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Some Days You Gotta (Just) Dance!

Thank you to Ubisoft for sponsoring this post. Please click here to learn more about Ubisoft. I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective. #UbiChamps 

Some days you gotta dance, Live it up when you get the chance, ‘Cause when the world doesn’t make no sense, And you’re feeling just a little too tense, Gotta loosen up those chains and dance  – Dixie Chicks

Man, the Dixie Chicks got that one right. Some days you just gotta dance! There really isn’t a better way to let loose than spending a night with friends for a ‘girls night in’ dance party. It is pretty much impossible to be unhappy and dance at the same time. Sometimes you just need those nights where you cut loose and act like a kid again.

The plan was for the girls to come over around 6pm, we’d order dinner, drink a little wine, and play Just Dance 4 for a little bit. Instead, when they arrived, we opened a bottle of red and got straight to playing, if you can call dancing playing. We barely stopped for dinner; we wound up playing until 1030pm! That is over 4 hours of dancing and laughing! In Weight Watcher points, that’s about 12 points of exercise! One of the girls said, it was “surprisingly more of a workout than expected, but didn’t feel like a workout at all.”

As a kid, I quit dance class because I didn’t like performing in front of people. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve stopped caring so much, especially when there is no way to look good while mimicking the silly dance moves in Just Dance 4. (And now there is video proof for all to see!) The first song we tested out was Carly Rae Jepson’s Call Me Maybe.  In the spirit of the American Music Awards that were last weekend, I am going to host my own Just Dance 4 Awards for the Best Music Video, The Worst Music Video and the Best Group Dance.

In the spirit of the American Music Awards that were last weekend, I am going to judge Just Dance 4 based on The Best Music Video, The Worst Music Video and the Best Group Dance.

Rick Astley – Never Going to Give You Up takes home the award for The Best Music Video. The video was as entertaining to watch as it was to dance to. In the background there was a sinking Titanic, UFOs, Godzilla, robots and more. 80’s music is just so much fun to dance to. When the song was over, Katherine said, “If all the videos were like that, I’d do so much better.”

B-52’s – Rock Lobster wins The Worst Music Video Award. There was this awkward lobster-man that was just too creepy and weird.

And finally, the Best Group Dance award goes to Dirty Dancing- I’ve Had The Time of My Life. We reenacted a choreographed duet as Baby and Johnny Castle. Hopefully, it is obvious who was who in the video below. Some of the moves didn’t quite fit the rhythm but we tried to make it work. Sadly the jump catch/hug at the end was accidentally cut out. Nobody puts Baby in a corner!

Check out the highlight video from a few of the songs we had a blast dancing to: 

Top 6 bits of feedback for UbiSoft:

  1. Videos should be more like Rick’s. So much more entertaining and fun to watch.
  2. I would love to see themed games like 90’s, Boy Bands, 80’s power ballad, modern, pop, reggae, or even zumba class songs. There were just too many random, unknown or bad songs on this disc.
  3. There is a calorie counter on Just Sweat portion but that should be made available on Just Dance, too. The calorie counter was a good feature, but the workout portion wasn’t much of a workout. I also preferred the Just Dance songs and dances.
  4. Maybe include a 3 minute intro video, “As you level up, you unlock more levels of difficulty. Every 5th level, you unlock a new song”. We wanted to know what we needed to do to unlock the “Cute Badge” or any of the levels. Maybe we didn’t play long enough (4 hours isn’t enough?) but we wanted to know how to accomplish goals and we weren’t sure how. I wish I had read the wikipedia article before playing – it explained bits of the game that were confusing.
  5. DDR has different levels of difficulty for each song and JD4 should too. While some songs, like Call Me Maybe unlock another version, it was kind of confusing. All songs should be classified by Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced and Expert. As you advance, the harder levels unlock. This would increase the challenge and extend the playing life and interest in the game.
  6. We found that the level of difficulty didn’t seem to correspond with the difficulty of the dance moves. Rick Astley would be a great starter and Time Warp was not hard enough to be a level 3.

The nice thing about the Just Dance series is that it really is a great way to loosen up those chains, laugh with friends and even get in a workout. Even though we are in our upper 20’s, we were pleasantly surprised at how entertained we were. While we all agreed, we probably would not invite friends over just to play the game, we would definitely include it in a game night shindig or a good “ladies date” as a free alternative to taking a barre or yoga class with a friend. We also agreed this would make a great holiday gift for friends or family. The game is available for purchase at Amazon.com or ToysRUs.com and many other retailers too.

Which video highlight did you like the most? Have you played? Which was your favorite song to dance to?

** Ubichamps provided me with the game and opinions are my own.

Wacky Wednesdays

Happy Hump Day! Since Wednesday is smack dab in the middle of the week, people often are simultaneously optimistic that the weekend is almost here while also being down that there are still two full more days left to go.  I’ve noticed people need a pick-me-up on Wednesday’s, so here are a few links that made me smile this week.  Hope they make you smile too!

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Apparently I have been watching a lot of animal videos this week!  Have you seen anything this week that made you smile? Care to share?


Love, Caryn

Drinks, Dinner and Dragons

In college, I had my share of Thursday nights where I would go out as if it were the Saturday, because lets face it, not having to go to class on Fridays, was pretty much amazing. But there were also many Thursday nights where I would stay in.  Sure, now I go out for happy hours, dinners with friends, and the occasional activity, but as I have gotten older, those Thursday night crazy adventures have dwindled down to just about slim to none (except during softball season for work, those stories to come later…).  So when the opportunity arose to get drinks with a friend and go to a concert last minute, I decided to embrace being spontaneous.

Drinks
Earlier in the week, I was given a gift card to The Signature Room.  I thought it would be fun to grab some (overpriced but free, thanks to the gift card) drinks with a very dear friend.  In case you aren’t familiar, the Lounge is on the 95th floor of the John Hancock building and it overlooks the entire city. It is known for its expensive drinks and breathtaking views. At least the views are free.  We both ordered a Peach Martini and watched the sunset. Doesn’t it look like the sun is an enormous explosion over the horizon? The photo on the right is a view from inside looking out at the lake from the 95th floor.

Dinner
I do not think I’ll be having sushi for a while. We had an hour to kill before the concert started so we walked around and of course the only place without a long wait was a sushi restaurant. Now, usually that wouldn’t make me think twice, except I already had it twice this week. Oh well. At least it was a sushi restaurant I hadn’t tried before. Bonus points for trying something new. We had a dragon roll, sweet potato roll and of course, spicy tuna. Nom! Nom! Nom! When we’re together, there are always lots of laughs.

Dragons
Earlier this afternoon, I received a Facebook invite for a show tonight featuring this local band called I Fight Dragons.  I have been a longtime fan, so I called my friend up, told her about it, and we decide it would be fun if we went after drinks to hear some live music. As I said in a previous post nothing beats a live concert.  The music of IFD combines pop/rock songs and electronic sounds using Nintendo game systems. That’s right, an old school Nintendo NES rock band! How clever and unique!  And they actually have the game controllers set up and play on stage. The group recently signed with Atlantic Records and have been working on their new album called ‘Cool Is Just a Number’ for about a year now. Three of the members are from my home town (actually one from a neighboring town) and are some of the nicest and down-to-earth guys around.  Packy, one of the guitarists/vocalists, who actually reminds me of John Lennon,  is one of the most talented guitar players. *Flashback time*  I vividly remember this one talent show in elementary school where he played the drums so passionately and intensely that his glasses flew off of his face in the middle of a set.  He finished the song without being able to see.  (FYI – He had the Harry Potter glasses many years before the books were ever even written.) We all knew at that moment, he was destined to go places with that talent.

Tonights show was so much fun and had a really good turn out.  I even ran into some old friends I haven’t seen in a while, so that was great to catch up with them. The music is awesome and you can tell they are having fun on stage. The crowd was chanting IFD, IFD, IFD. The two story venue was small but a great place to see a band play. I am in awe at how talented these guys are.  It makes me wish I could play the drums or guitar.  Too bad I’m tone deaf, have no rhythm and I can’t sing to save my life. I think there is something to be said for guys who can play instruments and sing.  When we were younger, if you played in the school band, your peers thought you were dorky.  Now if you play in a band, people think you are sexy. (If you are reading this, and you are in a school band – good for you! Keep it up!Do not give in to peer pressure or take your peers seriously. Someday your talents will be appreciated! )

Here are some songs from I Fight Dragons. Money / Welcome to the Breakdown / The Faster The Treadmill.  Check out their website, and if they come to your city, I highly recommend you go to their show. Mark my words, I have faith they will make it to the top.

Sometimes the best nights aren’t planned. Here is to having an awesome, spontaneous night on a random Thursday.   Do you go out often on Thursday nights (post college)? Do you know of any bands that are undiscovered or not household names that you love? Please share the music love!

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Love, Caryn



So What If I Can Be Easily Amused?

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I sometimes find pleasure is the silliest things. Yes, I admit I can be easily amused. Here is a website I came across that kept me entertained for a bit.  Sometimes it is fun to forget all that is going on in the world and be like a five year old for just a few minutes.


My name as an anagram is “NERVY CLAY” or with middle names: “VERY LYNCH BEAT”

My boyfriend Jason’s is awesome: “JOVIALNESS AND IDOL”
My mom Laurie: “REALLY, I’VE UREA”
My sister Stacy: “ENVY CLEAN STAY”
My dad Edward: “VELVETY NEW DREADS”
(The anagrams include their middle name, but for their privacy and safety I am not publicising that information.)


Yes it is pretty mindless and they make no sense, but amusing? Yes!  Please comment and share what you get from your name! Anagram your name here. 


ENJOY!!


Love, Caryn