Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Stress Reduction with Technology

signs, signs...
Originally uploaded by jayewalking

If you've read my blog at all in the past, you know that I have depression. Paired with that depression is anxiety. The good thing is that my anxiety has been pretty much under control for the last few years. But once in awhile, it creeps up on me.

Last week, we took the kids to the Toronto Zoo and I was fine outside, but as soon as we went into the first pavillion, it was warm and crowded and my anxiety levels spiked. Rather than force myself to go through the whole building, I turned around and went out through the do not enter door. As soon as I got outside, I was fine.

One thing that causes me anxiety that I can't always get away from is driving. Recently, I've become the only driver in the family, or the only insured driver that is. I'm fine when I know where I am, but as soon as you throw in new places or throw me a curve ball like a road closure or a detour, I panic. As you can imagine, having a panic attack while driving is not a good option.

What I decided to do to ease my anxiety was purchase a GPS unit. Let me tell you, this has been one of the best things I've done for myself in a long time. I just plug the address in and let the GPS tell me what turns to make. Now sometimes, I don't make the turns that the unit wants me to do, but it always recalculates and figures the next best way to get me where I need to be.

Our GPS is a Garmin unit and it has a variety of voices you can choose from. Right now, I'm stuck with a character called "Squirrely" because my kids actually get upset if he's not the one they hear. Squirrely has a squirrely voice and has lots of fun sayings. If you miss a turn, he says, "Aw, nuts! Hold on, I'll get us out of here!" And randomly, he tells you things like, "Sometimes I get distracted, it's like I-hey, wanna get some peanut brittle?" How can you not have fun when listening to this silly guy?

Another thing I've done is to set up my Outlook calendar to share with my husband's. We both put our appointments in and "invite" the other person to the event. This lets us both see when we are booked and makes it a little easier to balance our schedules. I've also set myself a reminder in Outlook every evening to remind me to check the next day's schedule. The idea is if I remember to check what is on tomorrow, it won't surprise me--of course, this only works if everyone's schedule is up to date and if I remember to check it.

So I'm interested to hear from you. What ways are you using technology to help reduce your stress levels? Share your insights, comment below!

PS--do you like the picture? It's one of my own!

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