C h a z z W r i t e s . c o m

Write and publish with love and fury.

Writers, Stress and, of course, Iron Man

We’re poor, starving artists. Of course, we’re stressed out. Why wouldn’t we be? I’ve often given lectures on stress management, so I’m going to give you a quick summary of what we’re normally told about getting all zenny. Then I’ll tell you the one useful trick you’ll remember and maybe even use.

Round One: 

Exercise, eat right, manage your time, use positive self-talk, deep breathing, be social with your support network, get lots of sleep, meditate, unplug more and say no more often.

Round Two:

For any stress, there are four responses: avoid it, alter it, accept it or act on it head on and solve that damn problem.

Round Three (and what you can really do, most of the time):

As suggested in Rounds One and Two, we can do everything that’s right for ourselves and go all goop.com and become perfect Gwyneth Paltrows, but you probably don’t have enough time, money and/or servants for that. In fact, trying to be Gwyneth Paltrow would add more stress to my life. I don’t look as good when I go blonde, for one thing. Also, I’m not a top Hollywood actress. I’m not even a bottom Hollywood actress working at Hooters. I confess, I’ll never play Pepper Potts. 

The answer, obviously, is: Be Iron Man.

Many people have the idea that the goal of life is to be relaxed all the time. You know what? Relaxation is great. It’s also bullshit. It comes in fits and spurts. Being relaxed all the time isn’t achievable for most mortals. Relaxation is often fleeting and, when it’s achieved, it can be shattered by a single bill, a phone call or a missile attack by the Mandarin. Not all stress is negative. Some sense of urgency is needed to ever get a book written, for instance. 

Yes, certainly take care of yourself and do the best you can, but stress-free is a high bar. Stress-resistance is armour in a troubled world.

Stress-resistant is more doable.

Think of Robert Downey Jr.’s character, Tony Stark, after he beat the booze (and Robert Downey Jr., the actor, post-drugs). In stressful situations (say…alien invasion) his reaction in the moment is to:

1. Crack a joke.

2. Think his way out of his circumstance.

And how do you Avoid, Alter, Accept or Act? Find the funny (subverting your rage with humor) and think your way out. When we panic or get angry, we get stupid and make things worse for ourselves. Do not catastrophize. Pause. Joke. Attack the problem with your brain. Attacking problems with your heart is a prescription for heart disease.

Thinking about the problem and holding on to your sense of humor might even keep you from strangling the door-to-door con artist who won’t leave your doorstep. That happened to me today and the twerp in question got to slink away without me denting his forehead on my “No soliciting” sign. Why? Because I kept my head and made jokes at his expense until he went away. 

Gee, I hope that jerk reads this. I think I stressed him out.

~ Robert Chazz Chute is nicer in person than you’d expect. Read the suspense and horror here. Listen to the All That Chazz podcast and the Cool People Podcast here. Nah, just buy and read the books. That would be cool. And if you’re Robert Downey Jr? Please have Jarvis contact me. You’d be great as the dad in This Plague of Days.

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