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Thread: Stress relief

  1. #1
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    Stress relief

    Generally speaking, I'm a pretty anxious and stressed out individual. It just seems to be the way I'm wired- I've been like this my entire life. I was a stressed out toddler, and now I'm a stressed out 30-something. If everything in my life is going okay, or even if it's going well- I start to worry that there are other the other shoes is about to drop and things are gonna get bad. It is almost as if I try to stress myself out (I'm not actively doing it, my mind just goes there). If things are going badly, I tend to worry that the worst is going to happen. And then I found biking.

    That isn't to say that biking has relieved all of my stress- I'm still a freaking stress case most of the time, but at least when I'm biking I feel better. It used to be that cycling was a tonic that would make me feel good for several hours after I stopped, but the more I bike, the shorter the post-biking euphoria lasts. That isn't new either, I used to exercise at the gym like a maniac, always trying to get that post-exercise euphoria to last longer- but it doesn't matter how hard I go, I always have to go harder and longer in order to keep the euphoria around for any length of time after I adapt to my new fitness level.

    Okay, whatever. That's the way I'm built, I can accept that.

    But now winter is coming, and I'll have to soon give up cycling for 2-4 months, depending on the length and severity of the winter, and now that and a bunch of other things- like the fact my wife is due with our first child in April, that my current job is up in August, and we're probably moving to Houston, Texas in July so I can start another one there- 2nd move in 3 years, is starting to stress me out. I really want that job in Texas, it seems really exciting- it's doing exactly what I want to do- but I'm a bit nervous about moving to Texas- mostly because I don't love the heat, and my wife hates it.

    So I bought a bike trainer- Kurt Kinetic Road Machine from REI a few weeks ago.

    I hope it's enough. I can already feel the tension building in my shoulders.

  2. #2
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    From time to time stress gets to me. I have to worry about one thing or another.

    Just as a side note, are you the only income provider in your household?

    I'm not the only one in my household, but my wife is going to put in her 2 weeks notice today due to a hostile work environment and I'll be the only one with a job. This causes me a lot of stress, and I wish that she would have found something first. We'll be fine but it is still stressful.

    I think that you should step back and take a look to see what is causing you this undue stress. Talk with your wife or maybe even talk to a professional if you feel like this is something that you can't overcome. Check with your insurance, if you have any, typically they give a few free or lower cost psych visits per year.

    Try to enjoy time with friends and ride as much as you can.

    You mentioned that you're considering moving to Texas, where do you live now? If you're somewhere that the weather gets bad in the winter, check out the Wniter Cycling forum to see the best way to overcome winter rides, that way you won't be confined to the trainer. I have a trainer and it isn't nearly as great as riding outdoors!

    Hope you feel better soon.

    -antimike

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    Sounds like you need to drink a little more.
    There are lots of folks who ride year round up your way. Read thru the Commuting forum and the Winter Cycling forum.
    Houston would be great -- flat and year round cycling.
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    OP...yeah I used to get that "real positive feeling" for a few hours after I'd ride and it's not as strong now...I do feel better when I'm on the bike and am grateful for being healthy enough to be able to get out and ride 18+ miles (while most people that I know my age, 46, are couch potatoes), but the good "feelings" come more from an intellectual place than a chemical place now. If I don't ride I'm more likely to do something like sit in front of the computer or TV and just get bummed-out, tired-but-restless. At least when I take a 2 hour ride on my days off from work I'll am worn-down/spent enough to take a good nap in the afternoon.

    As for winter riding I've found that I can adapt pretty well as long as the temperature stays above 30 degrees and it's pretty dry outside (low head wind is a plus too, an under 10 MPH forcast is acceptable to me). There are others who brave more bitter conditions than I, you should experiment a bit though and see what might work for you, You might be surprise (even if you have to work around the weather a bit) that you can still get out and ride 1-2 times a week in the winter.

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    Get a snowboard.

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    If your coming from anywhere except Florida, Houston will be hot and humid.

    And depending upon where in the city you work/reside you may find the aroma of money (as the locals call it) from the oil refineries. It is one of the most foul smells I have ever encountered (and I have experienced burning sugar cane)...

    That said it doesn't permeate the whole city.

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    Texas is not all the same.

    That said a lot of it is flat. I worked for Schlumburger years ago and just about the first thing my training engineer toldd me was if the good ol boys in your crew tell you to get your jacket, even if it looks like it will top 100, jsut ask where on the road you should meet them. I never was without, but I learned he was right anyway.

    Hope you have one of the less humid areas. Texas BBQ can be pretty good.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bhdavis1978 View Post
    . . . So I bought a bike trainer. . .I hope it's enough. I can already feel the tension building in my shoulders.
    Lordy, you have a bad case of it. The heart goes out. . .most folks have NO idea.

    Anyway, you're on the right track. Stay active. IMHO, the only way to beat this demon down is by exhaustive exertion. Careful you mix it up to counter burn out. The good news is that endorphon is a drug that's good for you!!!

    Also, [and I know this is difficult], seek the company of other people.
    AUDENTIS FORTUNA IUUAT
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    My Book: Drive, Ride, Repeat: The Mostly-True Account of a Cross-Country Car and Bicycle Adventure

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    Try yoga. It will help to keep the stress down, it's a good excercise, and you can do it inside. But go and find a yoga studio, not gym that offers yoga. And trying to practice at home without the instructor will stress you out, as you won't know if you're doing it correctly. Plus, you can hurt yourself.

    Good luck!

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    Quote Originally Posted by antimike View Post
    From time to time stress gets to me. I have to worry about one thing or another.

    Just as a side note, are you the only income provider in your household?
    Not right now- my wife is a teacher, but she is pregnant and is due April 7th. We're Canadian's living in the United States, and in Canada she would get a year of paid maternity leave. She wants to take at least a year off of work, and I understand and respect that, so come April, we will become a single income family. I'm a postdoctoral researcher so my salary isn't very high ($35,000 before taxes and health care deductions), so it's going to be really tight. I'm way off scale right now (between $5-10K), but that's because my current supervisor doesn't have a grant right now, so I get what I get. We bought into an insurance plan that she has at work that'll give us 4 months of 65% of her salary, so that'll help out a lot while we have it. I will start my new job in Houston, Texas in July or August, and hopefully I'll be able to negotiate a salary of between $50k and $55k. Plus at that point, I'll be able to claim our baby as a dependant for tax purposes (but I can't claim my wife, cause we're here under a visa classification that doesn't allow me to claim her as a dependent)- so all in all, if I get $50k with the reduction in the cost of living in Houston relative to Saint Paul, MN and the reduction in our effective tax rate, our net yearly income will only go down by about 10%- which should be managable, cause right now we're able to save about $1500 / month. It'll be tough, but it'll be doable.

    I'm not the only one in my household, but my wife is going to put in her 2 weeks notice today due to a hostile work environment and I'll be the only one with a job. This causes me a lot of stress, and I wish that she would have found something first. We'll be fine but it is still stressful.
    I would find that really stressful too- particularly because I'd feel that I wouldn't be allowed to express my stress / concern about the loss of my wife's job in that case without being labeled as being unsupportive. But I'm glad to hear that it'll be okay.

    I think that you should step back and take a look to see what is causing you this undue stress. Talk with your wife or maybe even talk to a professional if you feel like this is something that you can't overcome. Check with your insurance, if you have any, typically they give a few free or lower cost psych visits per year.
    I'm just a huge stress case. I always have been. I started having panic attacks in grade 2, and while their frequency and severity changes over time, they're always there- waiting.

    I was diagnosed with rapid cycling bipolar disorder, PTSD, and GAD about 5.5 years ago in addition to having Tourette's Syndrome. I was on medication for it for about 3.5 years, and while the medication helped stabilize my moods and anxiety, it made me an emotional robot, and that was really hard on my wife- so I stopped taking it after we moved from Vancouver, BC, to Saint Paul, MN. I was doing really well for most of the past 2 years, until about 6 months ago, and then I started not feeling well. And then, I start thinking that there is something wrong with me, and that I should just 'suck it up', but that rarely works.

    I made a psychiatrists appointment for this past Tuesday. On Monday morning I called in and cancelled it, and then later Monday morning I called back and reinstated it. I went- he seems like a good doctor. He doesn't do psychotherapy himself, but he's going to set me up with someone who does. He prescribed abilify for me (I've been on a host of other medications before- haldol, welbutrin, effexor, seroquel, epival, and clonazepam)- but he said he felt that if someone was on 3 or more medications, then they he needed to re-evaluate the medication situation. Anyway, I like him. If nothing else, going to an appointment and trying to make some time for me to feel better, made me feel better- cause I was taking care of myself. I have a habit of taking care of other people, but not allowing anyone else to take care of me.

    Try to enjoy time with friends and ride as much as you can.
    I'd made a few good friends when we moved to Saint Paul, but the nature of my field is that people move a lot- and the last of them moved away to Los Angeles this past spring- and that's been hard. I think that's one of the reasons the group rides were so important for me, cause it gave me a social outing, as well as a few hours of additional exercise twice a week. Part of my anxiety though, is social anxiety- so if I'm not actively forced into interacting with people, I avoid it. I have a rather poor self image, and as a consequence of that I tend to become somewhat paranoid about peoples intentions, along the lines of 'Why the hell would you want to spend any time with me?'. That was another reason the group rides were good, cause they weren't spending time with me, so much as it was a group of people riding together. I didn't necessarily talk a lot to the other people, it was just nice to have them around.

    You mentioned that you're considering moving to Texas, where do you live now? If you're somewhere that the weather gets bad in the winter, check out the Wniter Cycling forum to see the best way to overcome winter rides, that way you won't be confined to the trainer. I have a trainer and it isn't nearly as great as riding outdoors!
    We're living in Saint Paul, Minnesota. I plan on continuing to commute to and from work by bike until there is snow on the ground. I can deal with the cold, but my wife is concerned that I cannot deal safely with the ice. But I was thinking about maybe trying cross country skiing or snowshoeing this winter to give me a new outdoor activity. Someone else in this thread suggested Yoga, so I am going to give that a try too.

    Hope you feel better soon.
    Thanks, I appreciate it. It's taken me a while to respond to this thread, but I've gotta say- that last line of yours made a world of difference.


    Quote Originally Posted by RonH View Post
    Sounds like you need to drink a little more.
    There are lots of folks who ride year round up your way. Read thru the Commuting forum and the Winter Cycling forum.
    Houston would be great -- flat and year round cycling.
    Haha, yeah, I probably would benefit from drinking a bit. Generally speaking, I don't drink. My grandmother was a raging alcoholic, so I think that put a bad taste in my mouth about alcohol, but I've been having a pint (or so) of beer at night after work, and that's helping to take the edge off a little bit.

    Houston would be great for me- because like you said, year round cycling. My wife on the other hand, hates the heat- and so that is making me a bit anxious too. She isn't thrilled at the idea of living some place so hot- so I'm worried she's going to be miserable there.


    Quote Originally Posted by mawtangent View Post
    OP...yeah I used to get that "real positive feeling" for a few hours after I'd ride and it's not as strong now...I do feel better when I'm on the bike and am grateful for being healthy enough to be able to get out and ride 18+ miles (while most people that I know my age, 46, are couch potatoes), but the good "feelings" come more from an intellectual place than a chemical place now. If I don't ride I'm more likely to do something like sit in front of the computer or TV and just get bummed-out, tired-but-restless. At least when I take a 2 hour ride on my days off from work I'll am worn-down/spent enough to take a good nap in the afternoon.
    I really miss that positive feeling, but I still get some benefit just from being out riding, and feeling like I'm part of the world, and not holed up inside watching TV, or endlessly browsing the internet. Getting into biking this year has changed my life in so many ways- I've lost 30 lbs since I started biking this past spring- my blood pressure is down, as is my resting heart rate. I was at the doctors office a few weeks ago cause of a UTI, and despite the fact that I was feeling anxious and in pain my BP was 126/72, and my HR was 64- which was a lot better than where it would've been a year prior to that.

    As for winter riding I've found that I can adapt pretty well as long as the temperature stays above 30 degrees and it's pretty dry outside (low head wind is a plus too, an under 10 MPH forcast is acceptable to me). There are others who brave more bitter conditions than I, you should experiment a bit though and see what might work for you, You might be surprise (even if you have to work around the weather a bit) that you can still get out and ride 1-2 times a week in the winter.
    I would be able to keep cycling as long as the temperature stays above 30, but in Saint Paul, the temperature will drop to -30 by January and there will be 1-3 feet of snow on the ground. I've actually been contemplating buying an old steel or aluminum MTB frame and turning it into a single speed with big knobby tires. I don't know that I'd want to commute to and from work on it (mostly cause I think it'd stress my wife out), but it might let me get out for a 30 minute ride once a week or so in the winter.

    Quote Originally Posted by taos07 View Post
    Get a snowboard.
    That sounds like fun, but it's pretty flat here- and it's sort of expesnive, isn't it?

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by myrridin View Post
    If your coming from anywhere except Florida, Houston will be hot and humid.

    And depending upon where in the city you work/reside you may find the aroma of money (as the locals call it) from the oil refineries. It is one of the most foul smells I have ever encountered (and I have experienced burning sugar cane)...

    That said it doesn't permeate the whole city.
    LOL- That's part of what I'm worried about. My job will be at Rice University, so I am hoping that I can live within about a 15 mile radius of Rice University, so that I can bike commute in, and also avoid the aroma of money.

    Quote Originally Posted by Keith99 View Post
    Texas is not all the same.

    That said a lot of it is flat. I worked for Schlumburger years ago and just about the first thing my training engineer toldd me was if the good ol boys in your crew tell you to get your jacket, even if it looks like it will top 100, jsut ask where on the road you should meet them. I never was without, but I learned he was right anyway.

    Hope you have one of the less humid areas. Texas BBQ can be pretty good.
    Texas BBQ is one of the things about moving to Texas I'm really excited about. Moving to Texas seems like it'll be a really exciting opportunity, even if it is stressful. It seems like it's such a different culture from living up north or in Canada, so that'll be an interesting experience. We'll be moving to Houston, so it'll be pretty humid. I managed to bike through the summer here in Saint Paul, even when the temperature was 95F, and the relative humidity was over 90%, so I think I can probably manage the summer heat in Houston too, as long as I'm careful. I did a few 40 mile rides in those conditions, and I was hot and sweaty afterwards, but for the most part- as long as I kept moving, I was okay.

    Quote Originally Posted by Billy Bones View Post
    Lordy, you have a bad case of it. The heart goes out. . .most folks have NO idea.

    Anyway, you're on the right track. Stay active. IMHO, the only way to beat this demon down is by exhaustive exertion. Careful you mix it up to counter burn out. The good news is that endorphon is a drug that's good for you!!!

    Also, [and I know this is difficult], seek the company of other people.
    Thanks a lot Billy Bones. I've really found that exhaustive exertion, as you put it, really works well for me. It's just that the fitter I become, the harder it becomes to exhaust myself. But your suggestion of mixing it up is a good one. I bet if I threw in some weight training again, that would help out. Ill try to seek out the company of other people, but it is hard. Mostly cause I cannot understand why anyone (including my wife) would choose to spend time with me. On the other hand, I think my wife is (more or less) a saint, and I'd do anything for her.

    Quote Originally Posted by TromboneAl View Post
    I'll check that out TromboneAl, thanks for the suggestion.

    Quote Originally Posted by lucille View Post
    Try yoga. It will help to keep the stress down, it's a good excercise, and you can do it inside. But go and find a yoga studio, not gym that offers yoga. And trying to practice at home without the instructor will stress you out, as you won't know if you're doing it correctly. Plus, you can hurt yourself.

    Good luck!
    I was thinking about Yoga. There are a few community centers around here that have Yoga, and so does the Y. There are also a few dedicated Yoga centers- but they're really expensive. But maybe if I took a few courses, I'd learn enough to be able to do it at home on my own, a few days a week, and just go to a class once a week.

    Thanks a lot guys, you really made me feel a lot better. It was nice to be able to talk about how I was feeling and get a lot of great supportive feedback.

  13. #13
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    Find ways to make riding off-season more comfortable, and try walking as well.

    You sound a lot like me. I've always been prone to stress and anxiety. Fortunately I discovered that bicycling countered those feelings at an early age (I think I was around fourteen or so when I discovered that I felt a lot better if I rode my bike almost every day). I'm 40 now, so I've been using a bicycle for therapy for over 25 years.

    I grew up in the South, so I was used to the heat in the Summer. I hated the Winter and didn't like riding in the cold or the wet. So I started to hate Winter, because I tended to get a lot more stressed and anxious since I wasn't riding my bike. I did have an indoor trainer, but it was so mind-numbingly boring to me that I'm not sure it had the same effect as outdoor cycling. I'm sure it helped some, but I couldn't make myself spend more than a few hours a week pedaling indoors. Gradually I learned to ride more outdoors in Winter by trying different clothes to make myself comfortable. I have also turned to other forms of exercise. I find that even walking outside for 30 minutes to an hour significantly reduces stress and anxiety. Not to the degree that a two or three hour bike ride will, but to enough of a degree. My wife and I have dogs, so we walk a lot. It's a nice ritual. When we are tired or busy we don't always want to go for walks, but once we're out there it's really nice. We also go for hikes in the country/mountains.

    We now live in the Pacific Northwest and I find it pretty comfortable to ride year-round here. Yes it rains a lot in the Winter, but usually not that hard. And it rarely gets below 45 to 50 degrees in Winter, or above 75 or 80 degrees in Summer. The main problem is that it gets dark so early in the Winter, so bicycle commuting definitely requires lights from November through February. My mileage tends to drop off in the Winter and peak in the Summer. Often in the Winter I don't ride much more than my seven mile round-trip commute a few days a week. But I find that even that helps...especially combined with the dog walks and hikes. When I'm really stressed sometimes it takes only 30 minutes of riding to make me feel better. Other times it takes two hours of riding. But it never fails to make me feel better.

    I bought a Kurt Kinetic Road Trainer at REI a couple of years ago when it was on sale. It's a nice trainer that is reasonably quiet. I've barely used it The first time I used it I was quickly reminded of why I can't stand indoor bicycling. I should probably sell it, but I guess it's okay when you're desperate. The best way I've found to combat the boredom is to watch TV or listen to something like talk radio or news that makes you think. Music only seems to work so long for me. I love music, but it doesn't seem to make the indoor training go much quicker. So give the trainer a try, but also try to find a way to make Winter riding more comfortable for you. That probably won't be much of an issue in Houston, but you'll have the opposite problem of trying to make yourself comfortable in the hot Summer weather. Either way it's all about appropriate clothing... and fenders if you ride in wet weather.

    It sounds like you've got a lot of changes happening in this period of your life: A baby on the way, and starting a new job and moving for the 2nd time in 3 years...that's a lot of change to deal with. Even a person with normal stress and anxiety levels would find that stressful. My wife and I moved across the country a few years ago, started new jobs, she got laid off right after we bought a house, and we had our first baby a few months ago. Despite being a pretty anxious person, I've always found that I deal pretty well with change... even the unfortunate kind of change. Houston is a big city, so I'm sure you can find some good things about moving there. Just try to find something in every day to look forward to and enjoy. A baby is great for that. Give walking a try when you don't feel like riding, and above all try to get enough sleep. Our baby has been pretty good about sleeping through the night, but we still have a rough night every few days. We now value sleep over pretty much everything else, because when you get seriously sleep deprived (which will happen in the first weeks after your baby is born), it's pretty easy to get stressed. My biggest problem now is finding time to ride. I often commute to work by bicycle, but it's only 3.5 miles each way so I also ride during my lunch break when I can. What I really miss are longer rides of two to five hours. With a new baby it's hard to fit in even a two hour ride on the weekend. Fortunately my wife knows how important it is to me, so every now and then she encourages me to go for a long ride. In return I will tell her to leave the baby with me and go do something for her self as well. It's true that your lives will revolve around your baby, but you still have to take care of yourselves as well.

    Good luck with all these changes ahead and remember to keep riding. I've gone through periods in my life when I didn't bicycle for a few months. As soon as I would start bicycling again I would be amazed at how much better it made me feel. Sometimes you forget.

    Sean

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    Quote Originally Posted by bhdavis1978 View Post
    I'm just a huge stress case. I always have been. I started having panic attacks in grade 2, and while their frequency and severity changes over time, they're always there- waiting.

    I was diagnosed with rapid cycling bipolar disorder, PTSD, and GAD about 5.5 years ago in addition to having Tourette's Syndrome. I was on medication for it for about 3.5 years, and while the medication helped stabilize my moods and anxiety, it made me an emotional robot, and that was really hard on my wife- so I stopped taking it after we moved from Vancouver, BC, to Saint Paul, MN. I was doing really well for most of the past 2 years, until about 6 months ago, and then I started not feeling well. And then, I start thinking that there is something wrong with me, and that I should just 'suck it up', but that rarely works.

    I made a psychiatrists appointment for this past Tuesday. On Monday morning I called in and cancelled it, and then later Monday morning I called back and reinstated it. I went- he seems like a good doctor. He doesn't do psychotherapy himself, but he's going to set me up with someone who does. He prescribed abilify for me (I've been on a host of other medications before- haldol, welbutrin, effexor, seroquel, epival, and clonazepam)- but he said he felt that if someone was on 3 or more medications, then they he needed to re-evaluate the medication situation. Anyway, I like him. If nothing else, going to an appointment and trying to make some time for me to feel better, made me feel better- cause I was taking care of myself. I have a habit of taking care of other people, but not allowing anyone else to take care of me.
    Fortunately you have found an activity that helps you, but you also know yourself enough to know when it is time to seek professional help. A lot of people are afraid to do that and end up in really bad situations. Still, it's tough to find someone you can trust and who understands the importance of something like bicycling for you.

    I've never been diagnosed with a chronic anxiety disorder, but I've known all my life that I had some anxiety and stress issues that were not normal. Even as a child my parents called me "the worrier." I did go to therapist for awhile in my mid-20s when a particularly bad bout turned into more severe depression and extreme insomnia... things I have not really suffered from since. I did think Prozac (took for about a year) took the edge off, but even more important was having a therapist give me permission to stop worrying about others and external pressures and start focusing on my own happiness. I simplified my life and got back on the bicycle after months off of it. A more recent episode manifested itself in a different way. The economy tanked right after we bought our house and then my wife got laid off. My stress and anxiety levels went through the roof and I even started to suffer from irregular heartbeats. This scared the crap out of me and I was afraid to ride since my heart was doing flip-flops in my chest while I pedaled uphill. My doctor sent me to a cardiologist who had me wear a monitor for a month. He told me to keep bicycling. After a month of monitoring he said that it was nothing to worry about and that the most likely cause was stress. Sure enough the symptoms gradually stopped after a couple of months as I ramped up my mileage and my stress levels went down.

    Even at an early age I made the connection between bicycling and how I feel in terms of anxiety and stress. The benefits are both psychological and chemical. I strongly believe that humans are not meant to be completely sedentary, and some of us need a certain amount of physical activity just to feel normal. The best way to describe it is that I feel more balanced with some degree of exercise, and definitely healthier and more confident. Sometimes people ask you what you're stressed about, and sometimes there is a source (like buying a house right before your household income gets reduced by half), but other times there is no real source. It's a chemical imbalance type of thing. When I'm anxious I often have difficulty describing what I'm anxious about... kind of everything and anything. After a long ride I feel peaceful and content.

    When I do have particular problems that I'm worried about, or projects that I need to develop in my head, thinking about them while riding my bicycle is extremely helpful. I guess that's one reason I mostly ride alone. Some of my bike rides end up being personal therapy sessions... or at least planning sessions.

    Sean

  15. #15
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    Last edited by bhdavis1978; 11-16-10 at 11:21 AM.

  16. #16
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    I have another book recommendation: "The Power of Now" by Eckhart Tolle. This book cut my stress level in half (literally in half, I have my Cortisol (& other stress hormones) tested regularly.

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