Mason County News
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Relaxing Reptiles
Wednesday, April 14, 2010 • Posted April 14, 2010

Without question, April 15 is the most stressful day of the year for most Americans. Nothing raises blood pressure more than being forced to give the government your hard-earned money, knowing that government will give a large percentage of it to people whose most strenuous monthly activity is opening the envelope containing their welfare check. And if the average married person filing jointly considers what the average welfare recipient spends that check on, it’s even worse.

Luckily, I recently read an MSN article detailing some great ways to reduce stress. Unfortunately, MSN is staffed by space cadets from the planet Ignoramus. I’m not sure if the ‘experts’ consulted for the article were offering solutions for stress or causes for it.

The article lists ten supposed anxiety cures, and some of them are admittedly pretty sensible. For instance, one is shouting. The story says that getting things off your chest by shouting has been a stress reducer since caveman days, which makes sense to me. I think this one is especially helpful for people with teenagers. It’s the one I use most often.

Another idea from the article is ‘going dark.’ Modern man, especially the city dweller, evidently has a hard time avoiding constant light, even when sleeping. Turning off all the lights and hanging heavy drapes is supposed to help by providing deeper sleep and relaxation. In the country we call this solution ‘night.’

Others of MSN’s stress solvers seem less sensible. The beer bath, for example. The idea is to take a bath in hot beer, which is supposed to calm you down. I sincerely doubt it. For one thing, I don’t know how much money a bathtub full of beer would cost, but blowing that kind of cash is generally a stressful thing for most folks. Plus you’d be sitting there wondering where you were going to put all the cans when you got done. I’ll pass on that one.

Flower baths are another MSN idea which has no appeal for me. I think I’d be more stressed worrying about where all the little petals were going to end up, and it would have the opposite of the desired effect.

Dry brushing, sort of a massage except with a variety of brushes, doesn’t sound good, either. But if you like that one you could probably roll around on a shag carpet for a while and get the same treatment. Dogs do it all the time.

Those solutions are strange, granted, but now we get to the ones I would put into the Whaaaaat? Category. The first of these is ironing. Really. Ironing, while I’m sure may be relaxing for some people, would drive me nuts in about five minutes. Plus I can’t imagine a sensible man suggesting it to his spouse. My wife is stressed sometimes, but if I told her, "Honey, why don’t you calm down and go iron my shirts for a while," I would probably end up eating that iron.

Another really weird stress reduction plan is haiku. The idea here is to chill out by writing a type of poetry invented 400 years ago. A haiku is a poem of three lines, of five, seven, and five syllables. So you’re supposed to feel better after sitting there for hours, counting syllables, and finally coming up with something like, "I was all uptight. So I wrote this little verse. Now my friends hate me." I’m skeptical.

Then there is the jaw massage, which is just like a regular massage only all you get rubbed is your jaw. We evidently clench our jaws when we’re upset, and our jaw muscles get all tensed up. I think this one is aimed mainly at Harvard alumni, but you’re welcome to try it.

If MSN had stopped there, I would say they’re just your average weirdos. But they really pushed the bar, and suggested two more ideas for reducing stress that, I believe, are guaranteed to give most people hypertension.

One is acupuncture. I don’t know about you, but if someone wants to start poking needles into my face and body my blood pressure is going up, pronto. I have it on good authority this is the main reason the Second Amendment was included in the Bill of Rights. But the last MSN stress beater is even worse.

It’s another massage, but with snakes instead of hands. People apparently actually pay money to have non-poisonous snakes crawl all over them. The only way I can imagine this would reduce stress is when the massage is over. Those who survive probably claim it helped, just so they won’t have to do it again.

MSN should have talked to me before writing this article. I would have told them the best stress relief in the world is fishing and hunting. Even if you don’t catch fish or shoot game, just being out in the field is relaxing. And if the trip is successful it’s even better. People are always happier after catching a big fish, or shooting a nice buck.

And the best stress reducer of all, without question, is shooting snakes . . .

Kendal Hemphill is an outdoor humor columnist and public speaker who never gets stressed, and avoids snakes. Write to him at PO Box 1600, Mason, Tx 76856 or

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