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Jewish World Review April 16, 2001 / 23 Nissan , 5761

He Works/She Works
By Jaine Carter and James D. Carter

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Consumer Reports

Don't let it get you down -- SOME years are definitely worse than others. In some there are births, graduations, low medical bills, new jobs and no late-night phone calls. Then there are the years of family crises, health problems, job disappointments and financial setbacks.

If 2001 has started out that way, you may need to find ways to recharge by ridding yourself of accumulated negative energy. Author Marjory Spraycar thinks that you can turn around discouraging times with a series of small steps she enumerates in her book "First Seasons: A New Journey" "".

Spraycar takes readers through a year of recovery and discovery of new opportunities, new relationships and new outlooks. "Comfort is probably the first thing we think of offering to friends who are in difficult situations," said Spraycar, "but it's probably more important to find ways to help yourself look ahead, to move toward new situations, new activities."

In other words, find ways to take your mind off your problems, or perceived problems, and you'll feel a lot better. The following are a few ideas that may help you bounce back:

- Write or call a favorite aunt or uncle, friend or roommate who has always supported you, no matter what. Let them know you are moving out of a difficult year and that you are hopeful for a better year in 2001.

- Visit an art gallery. If possible, find one with an exhibit of paintings depicting spring - a reminder that better days are ahead.

- Cook a big pot of one of your favorite soups, or chili, and give a quart to a neighbor or friend. Doing things for others not only makes you feel magnanimous, but it helps to raise the other person's spirits.

- Do not let the cold winter weather or hot, humid summer temperatures keep you inside. Get outside, take a deep breath and walk around the block. Even a short reprieve will help you feel better.

- Start reading Dear Abby and Ann Landers more regularity. This is not a commercial. You will feel more connected when you discover that other people also have problems. The advice may actually be helpful in your situation.

- Redecorate, even it means just moving a few things. Move a painting that hangs in your living room into your bedroom. Look through your cabinets and linen closet and find colorful pieces you can drape over chairs or sofa. Visit a model home to get ideas. You'll be surprised at how a little creativity can make you feel like a new person.

- Make a list of four or five activities you enjoy. Go back over the list and estimate how often you have participated in each activity over the last five years. You'll be surprised at how much more time you spend doing things you don't like to do than you do enjoying life.

- Try out new activities and places. If you have never played tennis or bowled, try them. You may discover that you hate both. That's fine - keep trying until you find something that really turns you on, and then go for it. Add it to your weekly schedule so you will have something to anticipate.

- Take a musical trip to the best times in your life by listening to your then-favorite music, whether that means Irving Berlin, Elvis, the Beatles or Sinatra.

- Write a thank-you note to someone who has been particularly supportive during this difficult time. The road to hell is paved with good intentions. Do not put off that thank you until you have the right kind of notepaper or can draft a Nobel Prize-winning essay. Pick up a pen and paper and do it, now.

- Think ahead to summer travel. Think of people you would like to visit. Do not put off contacting people who add flair to your life. Think about where you have been, where you would like to revisit and where you would like to go for the very first time. Planning a trip is more than half the fun. Anyone would get depressed having nothing pleasurable to anticipate. The prospect of an endless chain of days and years doing the same old things can drive anyone to depression.

- Say no! Take care of yourself by spending time on activities and people that you enjoy and saying no to those you don't.

Jaine Carter, Ph.D. and James D. Carter, Ph.D. are management consultants and authors of the book, ''He Works She Works -- Successful Strategies for Working Couples." Comment by clicking here.


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