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Worry your way to a better you

You say there's not enough stress in your life?

Psychotherapist Tricia Seymour wants to help. Help you be more stressed, that is. So she wrote a pocket-size, thought-for-the-day book, 31 Days to Increase Your Stress.

On Day 1 of the monthlong stress quest, Seymour recommends worrying.

"Think about all the terrible, awful things that could possibly happen to you or anyone you know _ someday!" she advises, noting that it is particularly helpful to worry about things you can't control.

Seymour, 36, whose reverse-psychology book is the first of several self-help parodies, is a motivational corporate trainer for Karlsen & Seymour International. ("There's no Karlsen. But it does make the company sound bigger, doesn't it?" she cracks.)

Seriously, folks, Seymour thinks that in some dark corner of most of our psyches, we like stress.

"People know all the right things to do to decrease stress; they just don't do them," says the Florida native, who has a master's degree in marriage and family therapy.

"I think stress either makes people feel important because they have so much on their plates, or they can get sympathy from other people, play the martyr: "Poor me. Poor me. Pour it on me.' "

But enough hypothesizing. In the book ($6.95, Blue Sky Marketing of St. Paul, Minn.) she advises readers (this is Day 3 now) to procrastinate.

"Why hurry?" she asks. "You do better under pressure." Day 13 is the time to "be inflexible. Don't give in, move, budge, change or compromise; it's a sign of weakness."

And so it goes. Blame others. Lose your sense of humor. Charge your credit cards to the max. Stay disorganized to add excitement to your life. And of course, (Day 28) "Take things personally; they are probably meant that way anyway."

Counselor Barbara Neal said she likes Seymour's humorous approach to anxiety. "People can see themselves in a way that's not threatening, and they're more likely to change," she said.

Seymour is working on a six-book series, including 31 Days to Ruin Your Relationship.