A short getaway can magically rid life of stress

July 16, 2013|Bill Kohler

“The doctor will see you now.”

“Hello, Mr. Stevens, how are we feeling today?”

“Oh, hey Doc. I’m doing OK, I guess.”

“Why are you here today? Back acting up? Gout? Acid reflux causing discomfort?”

“No, it’s none of that. It’s not one thing, it’s like a general blah feeling, you know?”

“Really? Tell me about it.”

“Well, Doc, work’s been a bear. My new boss is pushing for me to get these changes implemented like, you know, yesterday.

“My wife just lost her cellphone and my truck is acting up.

“My son’s cutting teeth and my daughter wants a tattoo.”

“That sounds like life, Mr. Stevens.”

“Yes, Doc, you’re right, but I just haven’t been feeling myself, you know?

“My knee is a little sore, I haven’t slept eight hours in years and I’m downing Tums like Lifesavers. That can’t be good, can it?”

“No, Mr. Stevens, that isn’t good.”

“Look, there’s more. My wife says I’ve been very moody lately. I guess she’s right.

“I’m always worrying about money and I feel overwhelmed with the responsibility of being well ... you know ... responsible for everything.”

“I think I can help, Mr. Stevens.”

“Your blood counts are pretty normal, but your blood pressure was high.

“You look pale and to be honest, you’re 49 and could stand to drop about 10 to 15 pounds.

“You’re a prime candidate for heart trouble ... heart attack, heart disease. That stuff you can fight with exercise and by eating better.

“But the most important thing for you is taking steps to reduce the stress in your life. Here are a couple of tips:

“First, learn how to manage stress. You might feel like the stress in your life is out of your control, but you can always control the way you respond. Managing stress is all about taking charge: taking charge of your thoughts, your emotions, your schedule, your environment and the way you deal with problems.

“We all can do this, including you, Mr. Stevens.

“Second, learn quick stress relief. Everybody has the power to reduce the impact of stress as it’s happening in that moment. With practice, you can learn to spot stressors and stay in control when the pressure builds.

“And the third and most important thing, Mr. Stevens, is to learn how to relax.”

“What do you mean? I know how to relax. ... I guess.”

“Mr. Stevens, you can’t change the fact that your baby isn’t sleeping through the night and your daughter is not your little girl anymore and no matter how much money you and your wife make, there will always be financial problems.

“Why, just last week, the transmission went out in my SUV while I was driving on Dual Highway.

“And it was pouring down rain.”

“What did you do, Doc?”

“I took a deep breath, called my wife, who called Mel’s Garage, who came and picked it up.

“The point is that I had just returned from the gym, where I ran for a half-hour on the treadmill and swam a few laps. I felt good and stress-free. Tired, but stress-free.”

“I can’t afford a gym membership right now.”

“Well consider it or at least consider some way of putting some exercise and physical activity into your life. You’d be amazed if you kept track of the little, unnecessary things you spend money on each month ... that could easily pay for a new bike, a good pair of walking shoes or a monthly membership to a gym.

“And one more thing: When was the last time you went away for a week? A day? A weekend?”

“It’s been awhile, doctor. A couple of years at least.”

“Well, here’s my prescription: Plan a trip with the family. The beach is my favorite. Even if it’s just for a day or two, do it. During the most stressful moments in my life, I used the beach for therapy. Breathe in, breathe out. Walk in the sand. Play in the sand with your kids. Laugh. Turn off your cellphones. Listen to music. Sing.

“It’s like magic.”

“OK, thanks, Doc.”

“And one more thing: If you can’t go to a beach, try Cunningham Falls in Frederick, Md., or Caledonia State Park in Chambersburg, Pa., or Deep Creek State Park. And while I’m thinking about it, I saw a great article in the Sunday paper. Crystal Schelle wrote it. It was about one-day summer getaways. Perfect ideas for stress relief. This area is a gold mine for one-day and two-day trips that might be just what the doctor ordered.”

Bill Kohler is the less-stressed-than-he-used-to-be Tri-State editor of The Herald-Mail. Share your favorite one-day getaways with him at Check out Schelle’s story on our website; click on Lifestyle and then the story: Summer fun in a day: A list of daytrips.

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