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With the warmer weather getting here it is finally nice enough to get out walking. Now walking in the winter is great too as long as you are all bundled up. There is something about the warm breeze and sun on your face though that makes it more relaxing in the warmer seasons. Walking gives a chance to get away from the daily hassles that so often build up and cause stress. We are lucky here in the Niagara region for the abundance of hiking and walking trails.  For anyone interested in finding some new trails here is a website with guides on many of the trails in Niagara (http://www.niagaraparks.com/nature/rectrailarea.php).

I have a favourite movie of mine that I always turn to when I am stressed. August Rush. For those of you who have seen this movie you probably know what I am talking about. August Rush is the story of an 11 year old orphan who sets out to find his parents through music. The story is complimented by the music that the young boy makes and that of his parents. The entire sound track is incredibly relaxing and doesn’t get old. I won’t ruin the ending for anyone who has not seen the movie. During stressful weeks in class or at work I do recommend watching it. It will make you feel better, especially if you have some kettle popcorn to go with it.

Now what happens if you cannot find that stress free job? Well then, try camping!

What better way to relieve the stress of the work week than spending the weekend outdoors? Taking a walk by the lake, sitting around the campfire, sleeping under the stars (if you are really brave). Now for some people, camping might be something that would cause more stress, especially in March. With proper planning it could be the most relaxing type of vacation, and it is never too early to start planning. As long as you are prepared for a  rainy day and the bugs it will be a fun weekend.

As far as the planning goes, something that you can do in March, is pick a place to go. There are plenty of resources on the web to help you make an informed decision. One of the most useful will probably be the Ontario Parks site www.ontarioparks.ca.

Finding a job that is stress-free will not be easy, maybe not even possible. There are things to look for in a job that indicate how stressful it will be. Looking for a job with a good job design that works for you is one way to make working in the real world less stressful.
A job that has good job design should:
– be demanding but not destroying, it should have a variety of tasks so that it will not be boring
– allow for learning and furthering your education while at work
– involve your own decision making
– include social support and recognition
– let you feel that the job leads to some sort of satisfying future.

When deciding on the specific type of work you would like to go into, keep these in mind and figure out what ones are most important to you.

*And remember laughing is the best medicine for reducing stress*

Relaxation response

For those of you who are feeling stressed right now, here is some more information on progressive relaxation. It is an excellentway to relieve tension and help you to deal with your stressors and daily hassles more effectively.

Here is a step by step guide so that you can try this technique on your own. Remember to focus on the specific muscle group and do not try to relax, just let it happen. Start by finding a quiet, comfortable place and either sit down or lie down if possible. Close your eyes and concentrate on your breating.

  1. Dominant hand and forearm: make your hand into a tight fist for 10 seconds and then relax for 10 seconds
  2. Do the same thing with your non-dominant hand
  3. Dominant upper arm: bend your arm at the elbow and bring your hand toward your shoulder. Hold for ten seconds and then relax for ten seconds 
  4. Repeat with your non-dominant upper arm
  5. Forehead: raise your eyebrows and wrinkle your forehead for 10 seconds and then relax for ten seconds
  6. Eyes: close your eyes tighter for ten seconds and then relax for ten seconds
  7. Lower Face and Jaws: clench your teeth and tighten the corners of your mouth. Hold for ten seconds and then relax for ten seconds
  8. Shoulders: raise your shoulders as if to touch your ears. Hold for ten seconds and then relax for ten seconds.
  9. Chest: take a deep breath and hold it, then relax for ten seconds
  10. Abdomen: tighten the stomach muscles for ten seconds and then relax
  11. Dominant Leg: extend toes downwards for ten seconds and then relax
  12. Repeat with the non-dominant leg
  13. If you feel any other tension in a certain muscle group, then tense it and relax again
  14. Take some time to enjoy the relaxing feeling before slowly opening your eyes and getting up.

As promised from last week, here are a few tips for ordering and picking out flowers:

  1. Take as much information with you to the flower shop as you can. This includes: Name, address AND phone number of the person you are sending the flowers too, your budget and some idea of what you would like to send.
  2. If you don’t know exactly what you want its OK to say so. There are books available to look at but it is best to use these ONLY for ideas. If you give the designer creative freedom, he or she will be able to make something nice with the best flowers that are in stock at that time.
  3. Don’t be afraid to try something new or a little different than the traditional styles. Again designers often do their best work when they can make use of their personal creative style.
  4. Try to have an idea of the price ranges before you go in (look on the website). You just cannot get an extravagant arrangement for $10. That being said designers are more than willing to work with you and your budget to figure out what will work best.
  5. Try to book an appointment for large events and orders to ensure everything you need is accounted for.   

With Valentine’s Day coming up I would like to share a few thoughts about buying flowers. Over the past several years working in floral shops, I have noticed some common concerns among buyers. A lot of people come in to the store and say to me “I have no idea what I want to buy so just pick out something nice”. Now it is fine to say that, I enjoy the freedom of being able to choose flowers for people. The problem is that I do not know the recipient. Picking out flowers should be meaningful and enjoyable. The best way to ensure this is to do a little research before coming into the store. 

There are numerous websites available to look at for ideas: colours that you like, sizes, shapes, containers etc. All of these details are important, especially when ordering flowers for an event. If you look up some information about prices and styles beforehand then you can make better use of your time with the florist. It will be much easier for you to come up with an appropriate piece together if both of you have an idea of what might work. I have posted a list of tips that can help make your trip to the flower shop stress free.