Friday, March 6, 2009

Overcome Life's Little Annoyances

We've known for quite some time that stress can lead to an unhealthy life, weight gain, raised blood pressure, and a slew of other ailments that can take seconds, minutes, hours, days, and years off your life. Sure, overcoming the larger obstacles that lead to stress are easier to combat, as you can prepare for them, but what about the minor annoyances encountered everyday?

Men's Health has finally put together a quaint and useful, and comprehensive, list of how to deal with those smaller annoyances that all of us will undoubtably have to deal with. From sitting in gum to the cork breaking off in the bottle, here are ways to stay calm and cool when the minors seems major.

What to do when:

You Can't Fall Asleep
Make two columns on a pad of paper. On one side write down what's bothering you, and on the other write down what you'll do about it, even if it's "I'll deal with it tomorrow," says Edward O'Malley, Ph.D., director of the Sleep Disorders Center at Norwalk Hospital in Connecticut. Now you've been productive and gotten the thoughts out of your head. Then go watch a rerun of a sitcom. You'll be distracted without becoming too engaged.

The Cork Breaks into the Bottle
Pour the wine into a decanter (a glass or ceramic pitcher will do) and the pieces will float and stick to the sides of the original bottle, says Cat Silirie, wine director at No. 9 Park restaurant in Boston. If the cork turns into dust, pour the wine through a coffee filter.

You Overcooked the Pasta
Saute it with some olive oil. It'll remove excess moisture, Kelly says. You can also throw the pasta in a baking dish, cover it with sauce and some cheese, and nuke it for 5 to 7 minutes, or use the oven for 15 minutes at 350°F.

You Forgot Her Birthday
Hop online and make a weekend reservation at a hotel, inn, or B&B, since they're open 24 hours. (Expedia.com and orbitz.com can help with hotels.) Then make a card that looks like a coupon for the trip, says Paul Joannides, author of Guide to Great Dates. She'll actually think you're romantic.

You Can't Remember His Name
Just say, "I'm sorry, it's been one of those days. Would you tell me your name again?" says Jacqueline Whitmore, of the Protocol School of Palm Beach. Don't say you don't remember—it looks as if you don't care. You might not; just don't look that way.

Your Hair's Sticking Up in a Spot
Hit the men's room and dab a little liquid soap on the roots of the flyaway hair, says Leslie Baumann, M.D., director of cosmetic dermatology at the University of Miami school of medicine. It will coat the hair and prevent static electricity—the cause of your problem.

You Get Ink on Your Shirt
Best tip: Go straight to the dry cleaner. Can't leave work? Then put a paper towel underneath the fabric and shoot the spot with hair spray (someone in the office will have some). Then wet another paper towel and press it against the ink, Dellutri says. The ink will go into the paper towel that's underneath.

You Keep Laughing in a Meeting
Breathe deeply from your diaphragm and squeeze a pen with your fingers. The former will help you relax, and both will give you something else to focus on, says Leslie Shapiro, a behavior therapist at the OCD Institute at McLean Hospital in Belmont, Massachusetts. Need something else to think about? Your grandparents making out. You're welcome.

You Have Food on Your Tie
If the spot is crusty, scrape off as much as you can with a credit card, Dellutri says. Then dab the stain with your tongue—saliva breaks down the food, as it would if you had actually gotten it into your mouth. For oil or grease stains, sprinkle baby powder on the spot; cover it with several paper towels and put a book on it, says Clare Spiegel, an image consultant in Coral Springs, Florida. The paper towels will absorb the stain.

You Eat Garlic Before a Meeting
Before you leave the restaurant, go to the bar and dip a lemon twist in a pinch of salt and chew on it, says Peter Kelly, a chef instructor at Johnson & Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island. The lemon oil and salt will help break down the garlic. The tequila's optional.

You Burn the Roof of Your Mouth
Stop feeling the burn by gargling with a 50-50 mix of water and hydrogen peroxide. It helps dissolve dead tissue, and it's fizzy—sorry for the technical medical-speak—so it feels good, Dr. Zane says.

You Lose a Contact Lens
Put the remaining contact in whichever eye is stronger. It will take over more of the work, says Elliott Myrowitz, O.D., M.P.H., an optometrist at the Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins. That should make you less likely to fall down a flight of steps.

You Sit on Gum on the Bus
Ice it. Once the gum hardens, scrape it off with a credit card. If ice doesn't work, put some peanut butter on the spot and let it sit for 5 minutes—the gum will come off in pieces, says Laura Dellutri, owner of America's Cleaning Connection in Kansas City, Kansas. Finish up with a damp cloth to pull up the residue. You risk an oil spot, but then, that's probably preferable to Bazooka.

You Get a Blister Under a Toenail
Hold a paper clip with tweezers or pliers; heat the end of it with a lighter until it's red hot and touch the tip to the surface of the nail so it goes through. (Nails don't have nerves, so there won't be any pain, you baby.) The blood will come out, relieving the pressure or pain, says Richard Zane, M.D., an emergency room physician at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston. Ah, relief.

You Split Your Pants at Work
Take them off. Turn them inside out. (Have you closed your office door, Mr. No Pants?) Now staple along the inner seam. There's extra fabric where the stitching is, so your handiwork won't be seen and, more important, won't be felt, says Courtney Kilmartin, a makeup artist and wardrobe stylist in Boston.

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