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Stressing on stress

by Thomas Dillon

The Internet is ablaze with lists suggesting ways to fight back against the deadliest foe of modern man — stress.

Yes, stress. It will boil your blood pressure, electrify your nerves, scramble your stomach, ruin your happiness and lead you straight to the grave. As if you weren’t going there already.

And to combat stress, here’s a summary of what the Internet says you might try:

Breathe deeper. Eat better. Sleep longer. Exercise more. Laugh as much as possible. Stuff your face with chocolate. Scream whenever appropriate. Chase people down the street and kick them. Or just drop dead now and get it over with.

OK, the above are not exactly from the Internet. I found making things up less stressful than actual research. But I do read such articles and this list is more than accurate enough.

Enough to make me feel that no solution fits me well, except maybe the one on chocolate. So my thought is this . . .

Why fight it? Stress just keeps coming like a derailed train. It’s too relentless for any mere list to withstand.

No, you can’t beat stress. So . . . why not join it?

Here then is my own expert list of ways to make life even more stressful: Practical and sustainable suggestions that I promise will help you fall completely apart. That is, if you need any help.

1. Breathe: Deep, light — who cares? The Japanese air is packed with either pollen or house dust or flu germs or yellow sand from China. And if all that won’t get you, the EMFs from your cellphone and computer will. You might as well open your mouth wide and fan the air in with your hands. The faster, the better.

2. Eat: When it comes to adding stress, making a proper choice at dinnertime is crucial. So what will you have? Produce packed with yummy chemicals? Or processed foods that will plug your arteries tighter than superglue? Not that it matters. Obesity? Diabetes? Mad cow? If you eat at all, you’re bound to get some ghastly illness sometime. So either eat nothing or just shovel it down. That’s the choice I mean.

3. Work: For what else will allow you to spend hours each day in close quarters with a group of smelly incompetents, who will, in turn, view you as a pinhead? All for reimbursement graciously defined as “peanuts.” Even when you add in all the compulsory overtime. Ooh! Did I mention you get to go to meetings?

4. Find a place to live: Apartment? House? Rent? Mortgage? You can’t go wrong. Odds are anything you pick will suck down half your precious peanuts and give you Velcro-close neighbors who will have domestic spats nonstop and own a poodle that will yap in unison. Which will leave you thinking . . . “How do they have room for a dog? I barely have enough space for my roaches.” Some of which might survive if the big one hits and your eggshell-thin walls collapse. Will you?

5. Have kids: If you’re international, this means all sorts of worrisome questions about language, education and so on, on top of “normal” problems like sibling rivalry, school bullying and statements like “Mommy, Joey just barfed in the goldfish tank.” Of course, kids are tough. They can get through anything. No it’s you who will end up the basket case. Case in point: your mom and dad.

6. Get away from it all: With a typical scenario like this: After you find that the oh-so-affordable beachside vacation you were so psyched for did not include the fuel surcharge (now making it affordable only for Warren Buffet), you end up in a cramped Japanese hotel with a zillion other families, all with kids screaming louder than yours, with everyone lining up together at the same sightseeing spots all week long. Where you fantasize about being captured and tortured by pirates. Yet, no such luck. All you have to look forward to is going back to your fellow pinheads at work.

7. Follow the news: Wars, natural disasters, scandals, crime, disease and an economy dreamt up by Freddy Krueger — that’s the standard menu for most news shows. It might be worse if the media was fickle and shallow, with its own dull axe to grind. Yet, that would be too cruel, wouldn’t it?

8. Have hope: Nothing jacks up stress more than believing that things will work out and that you will somehow get ahead. Don’t let creeping age, dwindling savings and a world gone to pot shake your faith. You are owed a happy ending! Why, it could be here tomorrow! If you live that long.

And that’s it. My eight-step plan to send your stress skyrocketing to the moon. I get the wild-ass willies just thinking about it.

Breathe, eat, work and so on — who would follow such a plan? Not anyone with sense.

It’s much better to stuff your face with chocolate. Or to scream whenever appropriate.

Like now.