NO STRESS ZONE.
Ahhh, the monumental first date! The adrenaline leading up to this highly anticipated encounter is both exciting and nerve-wracking. But for some of us, sweaty palms, a racing mind, and tattered nerves get in the way of a good impression. Even if you don’t have social anxiety, first dates are fraught with restlessness in a not-so-exciting way. While it’s normal for emotions to run high while anticipating a new date, it’s also important to be skilled at taming your nerves once they begin to get unruly.
After all, you want that cute guy to get to know the best you, not an anxiety-ridden you.
I’ve been there—seriously. But, thanks to my work as a psychotherapist, I have discovered five strategies that have changed the way I approach first dates, banishing those jitters for good.
01. Go Easy on the Adult Beverages
I am the first to admit that when I have a few drinks, I say things I would not normally say. This is the by-product of alcohol, my friends. For better or for worse, it messes with our internal “decision-making filter,” which is not something you want to happen on the first date. As tempting as it is to placate your nerves with a glass of wine (or three) at your apartment before heading out, consider the repercussions of doing so. You run the risk of being tipsy or drunk on your date (a major turnoff, according to men), revealing too much too soon, getting physical before you’re actually ready, and losing the ability to assess whether this guy is an actual match. If you are going to drink before your date even arrives, limit yourself to one beverage.
02. Plan a Low-Stress Date
It can feel really intimidating to sit across a table from someone you don’t know, especially if you struggle with anxiety. Consider meeting on different territory that you would both enjoy. Whether you grab a coffee, walk around a museum, or meet up at a dog park, everything depends on your personal comfort level—which can make a helluva difference when it comes to the quality of the conversation.
Pick a date location that allows you to feel engaged by your surroundings. The more a person is “in their element,” the more authentic they feel. I love choosing a fun activity such as miniature golf or bowling. I’m not particularly good at either, but both offer great amusement and tons of conversation points.
03. Challenge Your Inner Critic
We all have an inner critic. It’s that nagging voice that expresses disapproval, criticism, and judgment of our actions. You may recognize it as the voice that says, “You sound dumb. You look horrible! You’ll probably be alone forever.” It’s basically first date kryptonite.
In order to challenge our critic, we have to first understand its role. Believe it or not, it’s a part of you that is trying to help. It doesn’t want you to get hurt, so it criticizes you to keep you from being vulnerable. Not the greatest approach, I know.
Challenge your critic by acknowledging its presence. Thank it for showing up and trying to help. Then set a boundary by saying to yourself, “Stop speaking to me that way. I know you’re trying to help, but you’re making me feel terrible.” Practice this over and over until it becomes a habitual response.
04. Stop Future Tripping
Future tripping, or in fancy terms anticipated anxiety, is part of being human. When we future trip, we visualize the imagined future and anticipate an outcome. It is a common unconscious habit that most people use to combat anxiety about the unknown. It gives us a (false) sense of control by making us think that by anticipating our future, we will be prepared for the worst. It’s a very logical process of trying to protect ourself from getting hurt.
Needless to say, the potential for a new relationship or romance brings on the future tripping in full force. Here’s what it looks like in action:
Leading up to your first date you’re already trying on his last name, obsessing about having a second date, and fantasizing about your future together. Or, on the flip side, you’re thinking about all the ways this date could go wrong, and you ruminate on negative scenarios in your mind. When you notice your thoughts going into the future, say to yourself, “I’m future tripping,” and come back to what’s happening right in front of you. Breathe in, breathe out.
05. Be the Chooser, Not the Chosen
If there is one thing I want to convey to all my single ladies, it’s this: Stop being reactive to situations, and start leading them. Rather than working from a mindset that asks, “How can I get him to like me?” shift into a mindset that asks, “How can he get me to like him?” Take the focus off of yourself, and pay attention to how he makes you feel.
If you find yourself focusing on what your date is thinking about you and whether he likes you, hit the pause button and shift your attention. While it’s perfectly normal to wonder if he’s into you, come back to the question of whether you’re into him.
Far too often, women feel the need to play a certain role in order to be desired and loved. Frankly, it’s exhausting to act like anyone other than who you are. It is also a complete waste of time. How can you find your true match if you’re busy being a chameleon?
Individuals with a toxic disposition usually defy all kinds of logic. Some of them may be genuinely unaware of the negative impact that they may have on people in and around them. There may be some who seem to derive a sadist kind of pleasure and satisfaction by creating chaos around and pushing the wrong buttons in people. Irrespective which of the ways they resort to, they certainly create unnecessary strife, complexity, and above all stress.
Research has established that stress has a negative and lasting impression on the brains of individuals. If an individual is exposed to even a couple of days of stress, it leads to the effectiveness of neurons in the hippocampus being compromised. Hippocampus is a crucial segment of the brain that is responsible for memory and reasoning. Studies have revealed that if an individual undergoes weeks of stress, it may cause reversible damage to neuronal dendrites. Neuronal dendrites are small arms which the brain cells use to communicate with one another. If an individual undergoes weeks and months of stress, it can lead to permanent damage of neurons. Stress can be an alarming threat to your success story, especially if it gets out of control. It makes both your brain and performance suffer.
It is relatively easier to identify the sources of stress at work most of the times. Stress is likely to harm you the most when the sources of stress are unexpected. According to the research conducted at Friedrich Schiller University in Germany by the Department of Biological and Clinical Psychology, if an individual is exposed to certain stimuli that evoke strong negative emotions, it is similar to the exposure that you get while dealing with toxic individuals. Be it cruelty, negativity, the victim syndrome, or just plain form of craziness, people who are toxic drives your brain into a stressed-out state. Such a state needs to be averted at all costs.
How well an individual is able to manage his or her emotions and stay calm under extreme pressure has a direct connection to your performance. Research has discovered that around 90% of individuals who are top performers are seen to be excellent at managing their emotions during times of stress and can stay in control and remain calm. One of the greatest gifts of such individuals is their ability to neutralise toxic individuals. They are seen to possess well-honed coping strategies which they seem to employ to keep toxic individuals at bay.
Listed below are some of the best strategies that successful individuals employ while dealing with toxic people. To deal effectively with toxic people, you need to adopt an approach that enables you to control what you can and eliminate what you cannot. However, the most significant thing to remember is that you are certainly in control of far more that what you are aware. Let’s take a look at some of these effective strategies.
Set Your Limits and Distance Yourself When Necessary
Toxic individuals have a very common trait that they tend to wallow in their problems and fail to focus on solutions to the issues. They seek support from people to join them in their wallowing so that they can feel better about themselves. Most of the times, people feel pressured to listen to complaining individuals, as they do not wish to appear rude or callous. However, there is a very fine line lending someone a sympathetic ear and getting caught up in their negative emotional spiral. One of the ways in which you can avoid this is by setting your own limits. Distance yourself if required from such individuals. One of the great ways to set limits is to ask the individuals who wallow how they intend to fix the issue at hand. This will either quieten them down or it may redirect the conversation to a productive direction.
Choose Your Battles Wisely
Individuals who are successful know the importance of living and fighting for another day, especially when the opponent is a toxic individual. If you are unable to keep your emotions in check during a conflict, it will lead you to dig your heels in and fight an unnecessary battle which will leave you severely damaged. It is only when you can read and respond to your emotions, that you can select your battles wisely and decide to stand your ground when the time is apt.
Distance Yourself Emotionally from Toxic Individuals
Toxic people are quite adept at driving you crazy, as their behaviour is unpredictable and irrational. You need to be well aware of the fact that their behaviour defies all reasoning. So avoid responding to them emotionally and getting drawn into their drama. The more an individual displays an irrational and off base demeanour, the easier it should be for you to distance yourself from them. More than physically, you need to distance yourself mentally from them. Respond only to the facts and not their emotional chaos.
Have an Awareness of Their Emotions
To distance yourself emotionally from toxic individuals, it needs a certain amount of awareness. If you do not have the awareness when it is taking place, you won’t be able to stop them from pushing your buttons. There may be times when you find yourself in circumstances where probably you may need to regroup and select the best way forward. It is absolutely fine, and you should not worry about buying some time for yourself to deal with this right. To straighten them out, it is better you give yourself some much needed time to plan the best way forward.
Consciously and Proactively Establish Boundaries
This is mostly a sensitive spot where people tend to find themselves falling short. They feel that since they work closely with a toxic individual, they do not have a way to control the chaos. However, it’s far from being true. Once you can find your way to rise above a person, you will find their behaviour to be entirely predictable and easier to comprehend. This will help you think rationally when and where you need to put up with them and when you need not. For instance, even if you are working with a colleague who is toxic, day in and out on a project team, it does not mean that you need to have a personal one-on-one kind of interaction with him or her. In fact, you need to especially build a boundary consciously and proactively. If you allow things to take place naturally, you may find yourself embroiled continuously in challenging conversations. On the other hand, if you set boundaries and decide when and where you will interact with such a person, it is possible for you to control a lot of chaos. The trick up your sleeve here is to stick to your guns and maintain your boundaries when the person tries to encroach upon them, as they will for sure.
Be the Master of Your Own Happiness
When you give the reigns of your sense of satisfaction and pleasure to the opinions of other people, you no longer remain the master of your own happiness. People who are emotionally intelligent do not let themselves to be affected by anyone’s snide comments or opinions when they are feeling right about something that they have done. If you do so, you are giving away the control to such individuals. While it is practically impossible to switch off your reactions to the opinion that others hold of you, you can always take such reaction with a pinch of salt. If you pick up this attitude, then irrespective of what toxic people do or think, your self-worth is bound to emerge from within. You know for a fact that no matter what people consider you at any particular moment, you will never be as bad or as good as they say you are.
Focus on Solutions Instead of Problems
When you tend to focus only on the problems that you are facing, you generate and prolong stress and negative emotions within you. In context of toxic people if you continue to focus on the fact how difficult and crazy they are, you will be handing them the power to control you. Hence, you should stop focussing on how difficult the individual is and instead focus on how you shall handle them. By taking this approach, you place yourself in control, and it will automatically reduce the amount of stress that you experience while dealing with them.
Refrain from Giving them ‘Another Chance’
People who are emotionally intelligent are quick at forgiving. However, that does not necessarily mean that they forget as well. While it is okay to forgive and let go of what has happened so that you may move on, it does not indicate that you give the wrongdoer another chance. Avoid being bogged down by other’s mistakes. In fact, let them go quickly and yet be assertive in protecting yourself from future harm.
Refrain from Negative Self Talk
It is normal for you to sometimes absorb the negativity of toxic people. While there is nothing wrong in feeling bad about how someone is treating you, your self-talk can either amplify the negativity or it may help you to move on. Any kind of negative self-talk is unnecessary, unrealistic, and self-defeating. It takes you into a downward emotional spiral which makes snapping out of it difficult for you. Hence, you must avoid negative self-talk at all costs.
Limit Your Caffeine Intake
Whenever you drink coffee, the caffeine in it triggers the release of adrenaline. The source of either fight or flight emerges from adrenaline, which is the source. It a natural survival mechanism which compels you to either run for the hills or stand up and fight whenever faced with a threat. This flight or fight attitude stems from the thought that such behaviour will evoke a faster response compared to rational thinking. This attitude may serve you if you are being chased by a bear. But it is certainly not a great attitude when you are caught by surprise in the hallway by an angry colleague.
Try and Get Some Good Sleep
The importance of sleep in increasing your emotional intelligence and managing your stress levels is quite significant. Whenever you sleep, it is recharging time for your brain in the literal sense. It shuffles through the memories of the day and either store or discards them so that you can get up clear-headed and alert. When you do not get enough or the right kind of sleep, it reduces your level of self-control, memory, and attention. It raises the stress hormone levels automatically even without the presence of a stressor. On the contrary, if you get a good night’s sleep, it makes you creative, proactive in your approach towards toxic individuals, keeps you more positive, and gives you the perspective that you need to deal with them effectively.
Avoid Tackling Everything Yourself
No matter how tempting it may seem, it is highly ineffective if you attempt to tackle everything by yourself. To deal with toxic individuals, you need to be aware of the weaknesses in your approach towards them. You should tap into your support system to gain a better perspective on a toxic individual. We all have some of those individuals at work or outside work that you can depend on, and they are ready to offer help as well in difficult times. You need to identify such individuals around and make an effort to seek their assistance and insight when you need it the most. It may be as simple as explaining the situation to them, which may lead to an altogether fresh perspective. Most of the times, other people can see a solution to a problem that you can’t, because they are not emotionally involved in the situation.
Before you implement the above-mentioned strategies, you need to adopt healthy stress relieving techniques to deal with difficult people. It will train your brain to tackle stress much more effectively and decrease the likelihood of side effects.
Exercise is great for mental health; Research has shown that it can lower stress, improve mood and even decrease symptoms of depression and anxiety. But new research finds that a group exercise class may be even better for your mental wellbeing than a solo sweat session.
A small study published in the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association found that people who took group exercise classes reported less stress and more physical, emotional and mental health benefits than those who exercised alone or did not hit the gym at all, suggesting that a social atmosphere may compound the already numerous benefits of physical activity.
At the University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine, 69 people in their first or second year of medical school—typically a very stressful time—were recruited for the study. One group of students did at least one 30-minute core training class together each week; another exercised alone or with one or two other people at least twice a week; and a third didn't engage in any physical activity beyond walking or biking for transportation. Students were allowed to choose their own group.
The students took surveys about their stress levels every four weeks and periodically filled out additional surveys about their physical, emotional and mental well being. After 12 weeks, the researchers determined that those taking the group core training class were seeing the best results.
The study has some limitations. It's possible that people who chose the core training group already knew they liked group exercise, and thus saw benefits. But the research suggests that the virtues of fitness classes go far beyond working up a sweat. In addition to a community vibe, the researchers note that the music and choreography used in group classes may boost mood.
The days are getting shorter and the news is getting heavier with each rising and setting of the sun. It can be all too easy to slip into a funk and lose track of how long you’ve been traveling in it as time wears on.Yet, these funks can be reversible. We can climb out of them one rung at a time by dropping the excess weight of some unhelpful, everyday activities. Take a moment to examine your routine—can some of these elements be reduced or eliminated? Would you be a happier person because of it?
1) Getting in to social media arguments
I know, I know… sometimes we just can’t help ourselves. Unfortunately, most Twitter wars or Facebook back-and-forth do not result in productive change or warm, fuzzy feelings that we’ve made the world a better place. If you see something truly upsetting online that is crying out for a response, take a moment to ask yourself “Would my energy be best spent responding to this? Or could I channel it elsewhere?” Redirecting our energies elsewhere might result in better self-care and real-life positive change.
2) Saying “yes” too much
We all know someone who is guilty of putting too much on their plate. If your happiness is taking a hit because that person is you, step back and re-evaluate what you can actually handle. Chart out your available time, cross-reference that with what you absolutely need to be doing to stay afloat, and settle on where your boundaries are. And then – this is the most important part – stick to them.
3) Choosing the couch over a walk outside
There are absolutely nights where crashing on the couch in front of Netflix is a preferable method of unwinding. Yet, if there are other things you could be doing that might promote a more healthful frame of mind or physical state, why not consider them, instead? Take a walk, write in a journal, call a friend, paint a painting, play with your fur-baby, lift some weights or pick up a musical instrument. Unwind in ways that are nourishing.
4) Staying up past our bedtime
It cannot be stressed enough how important getting a good night’s rest can be for our health. The sooner we can establish a regular sleep schedule, the sooner our body will catch on to our rhythm an we can rise without grogginess. Reaching 7 to 9 hours of sleep is often the target that can ensure we are well-rested and our brains are at peak functioning. Set an alarm on your smartphone for when it’s time to pack it away and hit the hay.
5) Trying to live up to Pinterest-level expectations
The more unrealistic our expectations are, the more disappointed and unhappy we will ultimately be. Fatigue from continuously “failing” to meet these expectations is the ultimate bummer and can lead us to think negatively about ourselves and our abilities. Is what you strive to accomplish each day or week simply not in the cards? Then deal yourself a new hand! Maybe it isn’t realistic to make a home-cooked meal from scratch every weeknight, to hit the gym 5x per week, or to attend every extracurricular meeting or event that ends up on your calendar. Redefine your expectations to reflect what is realistic for you.
6) Dealing with family members who are insufferable
They say we can’t choose our family, and while that may be true in some regards, we can certainly choose how much of our brain space is taken up by family members who may not earn it. There are some people in our lives who, when we interact with them, provide the opposite of a healing effect on our hearts and minds. If we have reached a wall with how much we can continue to interact with these people, it is okay to say “no more” and either reduce or cut off contact. Toxic relationships can exist with friendships, romantic partnerships and familial relationships. You do not have to risk your mental well being just because someone is “family.” Take care of yourself.
Butte College kinesiology instructor Lani Muelrath (lanimuelrath.com) has been a vegetarian/vegan for more than four decades. The last 25 years she has also been a practitioner of mindfulness meditation and now, in her new book, she brings both together with “The Mindful Vegan” ($17.95 in hardcover from BenBella Books; also for Amazon Kindle).
The heart of the book is as its subtitle indicates: “A 30-Day Plan For Finding Health, Balance, Peace, And Happiness.” This is very different, Muelrath writes, than serial dieting. “Micromanaging and analyzing every bite and obsessing over body weight and size mask underlying stress, anxiety, and not-good-enough syndrome.”
Those who endeavor to practice vegan living face their own ingrained habits (such as compulsive snacking) as well as pressures from family and the wider culture. These stressors often provoke unhealthy defensive reactions. Enter mindfulness, which “gets to the roots of your challenges around food — whether it’s refurbishing old habits, employing self-regulation of emotions, or becoming more at ease and grounded in vegan living.”
The key is that mindfulness “expands that moment between stimulus and reactivity. You gain new access to the choice of where to place your attention, rather than having your attention taken hostage by reactive thoughts and emotions. Once you open the door to the possibilities of choice, you can more freely choose your responses.”
Muelrath notes that mindfulness (with roots in Vipassana or Insight Meditation) is non-sectarian. In the 30-day plan she introduces the awareness techniques gently (a one-minute meditation on the first day, two minutes on the second, and so on, with free audio versions on the book’s website). The author also provides a dozen recipes (including “Berry Good Ice Cream”) and additional resources.
Once a practice of meditation is established, Muelrath brings in the vegan perspective (emphasizing personal health and environmental care) and, in honest yet encouraging discussions, takes up “wandering minds,” “moods and foods,” “cravings,” “addictions,” and more.
With these new practices, one just might forget, as Muelrath did, about that chocolate stash in the cupboard. That, she says, is real freedom.
There is a lot of talk about self-care these days. It comes in all kinds of different forms: “me time,” “treating myself,” “boundaries,” and a multi-billion dollar “self-improvement” industry. Often the mantra of “self-care” just feels self-ish, a tagline to the individualistic self-centeredness of our day.
But as a mental health counselor I know how essential it is for me to care for myself well to be able to care for my clients. If I do not take “self-care” seriously, I will not only burnout, I also will be in danger of doing great harm to my clients. So, I began a quest to discover what the Bible has to say about this modern day term: “self-care.
I turned to Scripture and soon found that I did not know where to look. As I talked to my professors, studied, and meditated I came to realize that though the idea of “self-care” doesn’t show up explicitly there is certainly a strong theme of care and rest in the Bible; it just doesn’t look anything like I thought it would.
Created to Rest in God
I started at the beginning, where God rested on the seventh day. God made the day holy, ordaining a rhythm of work and rest for all creation (Genesis 2:2). Why would the Creator and Sustainer of life rest, unless God was teaching God’s image bearers (Genesis 1:26) an important lesson?
It is as simple as this, we are created to find rest in God.
When I understood this, I realized that “biblical self-care” isn’t self-care at all, it is surrender to divine care.
This divine rest is not optional, just like breathing is not optional. Sure we can ignore it, just like we are free to ignore God, or hold our breath until we’re blue. But the only true rest we will ever find for our souls is in God.
God wove rest into creation itself, embedded it in the ten commandments, taught it to the Israelites in the wilderness (Exodus 16:22-31), and let the nation of Israel feel the consequences of not seeking rest in God (Leviticus 26:34). The Psalms are brimming with how the Lord cares for and strengthens people (Psalm 1, 3, 6, etc.). The prophets paint vivid pictures of the Lord’s restoration (Isaiah 40, 58, Hosea 14). Jesus himself sought rest in the presence of his Father (Luke 5:16). And Jesus invited his followers to do the same (Mark 6:31).
How to Rest in God
God shows us through the story of Scripture what this surrender to divine care really means. It is a Sabbath rest, an outward sign and practice of an inner reality.
I was shocked to find that the Sabbath rest is less like repose or sleep and more like renewal to flourishing life. Jesus alludes to this when addressing the Samaritan woman: “The water that I will give them will become in them a spring which will provide them with life-giving water and give them eternal life” (John 4:14b). Like the Samaritan woman, we must choose to accept Jesus’s invitation to drink from the living waters, to actively engage in surrendering to God.
This rest involves:
Why We Rest in God
The rest that God gives to us is inherently relational, it is not something we do by ourselves and for ourselves. Jesus says, “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me” (John 15:4 ESV). We rest in relationship with the life-giver. We abide so that we may bear fruit in this ancient rhythm of work and rest, growth, and harvest.
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:28-29 ESV).
Editorial by Maulana Wahiduddin Khan
On a visit to the USA I happened to meet an Asian immigrant, let’s call him SA. I found that he was a man with a difference. At all times he was in a happy mood. His colleagues also affirm that he is quite different from other people.
In the course of a conversation, I asked him how he was such a stress-free person, while others were living in stress. He smiled and said: “God Almighty made me and threw the mould away.”
It was then my good fortune to be invited by SA to stay with him for a few days. Accepting this offer allowed me to discover the secret of his different personality. My stay with him helped me discover the formula for his happy, stress-free life.
When I was with him at his home, one of his relatives came to him in an angry mood. He said, “Mr. So-and-So is trying to distort your image. He is engaged in negative propaganda against you.” The visitor continued in this way, but SA listened to him dispassionately. Finally the man said in annoyance, “I am telling you something as serious as this, and you are not responding.” SA said in an unruffled way: “Yeh unka problem hai, mera problem to nahin.” -- It is his problem, and not mine!
The next day we had planned a sight-seeing trip to a number of places, but for some reason at the eleventh hour, I said, “I’m not in a mood to go out. Let’s stay at home.” SA replied very calmly: “Chalo, yeh bhi theek hai” -- No problem, this is also okay.
During my stay with SA, I discovered these two formulas for his happiness. I think these are applicable to every man and woman. Everyone can adopt these formulas, achieve a stress-free life and live in happiness.
The first principle, “It is his problem, not mine” can described as the art of problem management. In life there are always problems, and the best formula is to try to manage them rather than try to eliminate them. You have to learn the art of problem management, and then you can have a life where there is no stress or tension.
The second principle, “No problem, this is also okay”, can be described as: If you don’t get the first good, be content with the second good. It is a fact that in every situation there is always something that can be called the “second good”. All that is required is to accept the second good and forget the first good.
According to psychological studies, every problem begins in the mind, and it is also in the mind where problems can be solved. So it is like changing your intellectual gear. If you are able to do that, then you have found the super-formula for de-stressing.
You are more precious than everything else. So always try to save yourself. If in any situation, you have lost something, even then you have something, and that is yourself. So forget what is lost and take that which still exists for you. This is the best formula for attaining a happy life.
A happy life can often only be achieved in unhappy conditions. Life is the art of management. You cannot change the world, but you can manage yourself in order to find a happy place for yourself in the world. This is the only workable formula for happiness in this world.
It is one thing to have a bucket list at any age. It is something else entirely to have a bucket list that sends you to college for the first time at 92 -- or that sends you on your maiden flight at the controls of a single-engine airplane at 97.
These are the bucket list accomplishments of Cecile Tegler (92) and Mildred "Milly" Reeves (97). And neither of them is done yet.
"I never even thought about having a bucket list," said Reeves, a resident at Mount View Assisted Living in Lockport, N.Y., who became familiar with the insides of airplanes in her 20s, when she was a small-parts inspector for Bell Aircraft during World War II.
After the war ended, she stayed home and had seven daughters -- so the notion of ever flying a plane solo grew increasingly distant.
Assisted Living residents Sandra Leaming, left, Marge Reinard and Cecile Tegler took a class on computer applications.
Nor had Tegler, her friend and fellow resident at Mount View, ever created a real bucket list. What she did have, however, was an urge to go to college since her folks -- who had to support their own parents -- didn't have the money to pay for college when she was in her late teens.
Both of Tegler's daughters graduated from college, but she never imagined that she could go to college, too.
Within the past year -- because of unusual outreach efforts by staff at the assisted living community where they both live -- Tegler attended a community college, where she finally learned how to use and operate a computer. And Reeves took the controls of an airplane and flew it, on her own, for about 15 minutes.
Whether or not these are actual bucket list items, they are accomplishments that have spurred both women to set even more goals.
It stands to reason that bucket lists -- specific life goals to accomplish before dying -- are more popular as Americans live longer and find they have more time on their hands.
Such goals don't have to be about flying airplanes or entering college in your 90s. Sometimes, bucket lists that focus on helping others can be the most effective.
That, at least, was the plot line of the 2007 film "The Bucket List," starring Jack Nicholson as an eccentric billionaire who finds himself sharing a hospital room with a car mechanic played by Morgan Freeman. Both men suffer terminal illnesses but opt to complete their lifetime bucket lists together -- only to discover their new friendship tops the list.
"The best bucket lists aren't usually about skydiving or climbing the Great Wall of China," said Marc Agronin, a geriatric psychiatrist who is vice president for behavioral health and clinical research at Miami Jewish Health Systems in Miami. "Our bucket lists need to be in line with our core values."
He suggests that people simply look around and see the riches they have and the potential for adventure right in their own communities.
Reeves, whose grandson eagerly came along with her on her maiden flight to capture the moment on video, totally gets that. She said that she took as much -- if not more -- pleasure in her grandson coming along for the ride as she took in the moment when the captain of the plane handed her the controls. Reeves takes the greatest pride in her seven daughters, 12 grandchildren and 14 great grandchildren.
Meanwhile, Tegler, who attended computer class three times weekly at Niagara County Community College in Niagara Falls, N.Y., learned how to use Microsoft Word and Excel software. She was among the first at Mount View to enroll at the college and has since inspired others to do the same. Among those now considering a return to college is her friend Reeves.
"I've helped many people in my life," said Tegler, who expressed no fear or hesitation about attending college with a bunch of 20-somethings. Many students in the class helped her learn how to use the computer.
When Tegler was younger, she said, she often volunteered at veterans' homes because her husband, father and brothers all served in the Army.
Quietly helping Reeves, Tegler and 266 other residents of two assisted living homes in upstate New York accomplish their bucket list goals is David Tosetto, who owns both Mount View and Cobb's Hill Manor in Rochester, N.Y. "Young people dream and old people remember," said Tosetto. "The goal of the bucket list is to give them something to dream about."
The way Tosetto figures it, happy residents make for longer-term residents and happier employees. So, he doesn't charge them one penny extra for the bucket list outings. Besides the flying school and college opportunities, he's also putting together a scuba diving class at a local pool and a kayaking adventure later this summer.
"The ultimate goal of this is to get them more involved in society and in the belief that they can still do things," said Tosetto. He puts the programs into motion by posting large "Bucket List" signs around the two assisted living facilities that announce the opportunities and encourage residents to sign up.
Tosetto won't sponsor some activities, such as skydiving. "I just don't know how they can land safely," he explained. "Of course, if they choose to do it on their own, that's up to them."
In the end, said Agronin, author of the book "How We Age: A Doctor's Journey Into the Heart of Growing Old," your legacy isn't about how many planes you've jumped out of or how many countries you've visited.
"When the trip of a lifetime ends, you still have the rest of your life to live," he said. Your real legacy is about the people you touch along the way. "The relationships you create and what you teach your children is how you build your legacy," he said.
At 97, Reeves is still building hers.
Asked to name the lifetime accomplishment of which she's most proud, it's not the plane flight at all. "I'm still a Girl Scout," she boasted, noting that she earned the Gold Award, scouting's highest honor. "I still pay my dues."
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