A group blog featuring an international array of killer mystery, suspense, and romantic suspense writers. With premises and story lines different from your run-of-the-mill whodunits, we tend to write outside the box. We blog several times a week on all topics relating to romantic suspense and mystery, our writing, and our readers. We welcome all comments and often have guest bloggers. All our authors can be contacted separately, too, using their own social media links.

We find our genre delightfully, dangerously, and deliciously exciting - join us here, if you do too!

Julie Moffet . Cathy Perkins . Jean Harrington . Daryl Anderson . Nico Rosso . Maureen A Miller . Sandy Parks . Lisa Q Mathews . Sharon Calvin . Lynne Connolly . Janis Patterson . Vanessa Keir . Tonya Kappes . Julie Rowe . Joni M Fisher . Leslie Langtry

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

How do you shake off stress?

A dirty six letter word that haunts us all is stress. As writers, we blame it on the internet, changes from the good ole publishing days, or significant others interrupting us in our writing caves. But the truth is, stress is frequently a mismanagement of our lives mixed with reality that drops in our laps at inopportune times and places. It’s the year when family gets ill, the kids all decide to get married, and you’re moving across the country for a new job or to be closer, or perhaps farther away, from relatives.
Writers get particularly cranky when winging through a chapter, with a perfect idea in mind to enhance a character or plot, only to be interrupted for a simple question and totally lose the train of thought. Yes, it is like walking into a room and forgetting why you were there. The computer screen devoid of your idea stares back. Stress builds. The mind shuts down further instead of coughing up that sweet idea to make the story a bestseller.

You decide to take a break and struggle out of the chair. Cramps tighten your legs, and a sore backside is numb in places. Thoughts of writers die young echo in your head. So we admit that stress hangs over us like a gremlin on our shoulder waiting for the opportunity to up our angst. How can you counter it? 

Magazines, blogs, and various articles offer a bevy of solutions, but few fit us all. A Forbes article suggested focusing on half of what you need to get done and let the rest go. Some of it will fall back in your lap, but you will shine through by doing a stellar job of managing the half you kept. Not a bad idea, but it requires blinders and nerves of steel. And the ability to say NO. I’ve been working on that for the last twenty years.

Since family and friends have proven to be wise sages, I asked them what they did to relieve stress. The question had two parts. What simple thing do you do to relive stress when time is tight? And what do you do when time is favorable for something more extensive?

Predictably food and drink rated high on the list of short term solutions. Chocolate, ice cream, and tea popped up in several answers. However, more than one of those who succumbed to sweets, felt they had to work off the added calories. So if you like to exercise, chocolate as a stress reliever might work. If physical activity is not your thing, the very act of eating anything might only increase stress.

Mental meditation also relieves stress. One person mentioned thinking about funny things and good times. Many liked to read (a song to a writer’s stressed heart). Others mentioned yoga, prayer or meditation type exercises. Several listened to music, while relaxing, painting, exercising, or hiking. One writer mentioned writing something then throwing it away as though getting rid of the stress with the paper. Studies have found using expressive writing exercises reduces the stress in patients. Physical touch between humans or between a human and their pet also produces particularly calming results. One woman said after a stressful day, tea and a hug from her husband fixed everything.

Exercise plays a strong role in stress relief. Running and forms of weight lifting dump chemicals into our bodies that act against stress. Gardening seems to be cathartic for several as does playing with grandchildren, shooting hoops or hiking. Combine nature into the hike and it can be calming, peaceful, and a distraction from stress producing thoughts. Harvard Health suggests deep breathing exercises.

My first step might be to take one respondent’s advice and put things in “time order” or rather prioritize. Some things can wait while others can’t. Set up interruption times so people will be aware of when to leave you alone. List makers often reduce their stress by checking off completed items and proving to themselves they have made progress.

One exciting but stressful event for me is the upcoming release this month of two romantic thrillers in the Taking Risks series. The first book, Under the Radar, comes out October 17 and the second, Off the Chart, two weeks later. Thanks for visiting and have some chocolate before diving into your stressful day.


Marcelle Dubé said...

Congrats on the new releases, Sandy! Go have a hot chocolate to celebrate. :-)

Elise Warner said...

Congratulations, Sandy. Your blog was a great reminder of the things I have to up in order to reduce stress. Thanks.

Sandy Parks said...

LOL, Marcelle. I'm one of those who gets more stressed when I eat, because then I have to calculate how long on the precor it will take to burn it off. On the other hand, when all else fails, chocolate does work. ;)

Julie Moffett said...

Ugh! Hate stress. Now you're stressing me out!! Hahaha! Just kidding. Great strategies for reducing stress. Can't wait to see the new books out in the world.

Anne Marie Becker said...

Ack, stress! I can so relate to this post right now, Sandy. I think I've tried most of these strategies over the years, and the prioritizing of lists, as well as crossing things off (that feels great!) and picking the three things I most want to get done that day have been the most useful tools for me. And walking. Exercise definitely helps.

Larissa Emerald said...

Nice article, Sandy! I find I like crossing things off a list, too. Things are less stressful when I use a schedule planner.

It's no wonder you're thinking of stress, you've had an exciting and stressful year!


Toni Anderson said...

Stress is a biggy. I'm a worrier. I'm also a micro-manager of the rest pf the family and now the kids are older I'm trying to step back from that. I'm a control freak! And perfectionist (though you'd never know looking at me)). None of these things reduce stress :)

This is a great blog and reminder to try and let things go. I started saying "no" a long time ago. It really works for those people who think you're not actually working. I bought a yoga mat for Japan but haven't spent much time on it. I miss my dog, but have found several walks to calm my brain and help my body. Now to write a list and start my day :)

Sandy Parks said...

Toni, I hear your pain. I have to fight micromanaging and letting perfectionism stop me from getting things done. Our animals really do keep us moving. Anne Marie, picking the three things is a great idea. Hubby used to have his list and go over it every morning to prioritize his day. Something I need to get better at.

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