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Getting a Grip on Your Stress

Friday night after rushing to the hospital ER room, I watched doctors and nurses frantically hook my husband up to monitors, IV and numerous other wires. He had experienced severe neck spasms, a jammed neck, shortness of breath, numbness and other serious symptoms of his extremely high blood pressure. I sat watching, wondering if he was going to avoid liver or kidney damage, or the onset of a stroke. I had read that over 85% of all illnesses are caused directly or indirectly by stress but as I sat there, I couldn't help but wonder, how did WE get to this point?

My husband was a school social worker for 28 years. I know the stress that this position had piled on him year after year-the crises after crises, and his unrelenting caring. I know that my husband was passionate in his dedication to help others. I also know, like many people in the work force today, he didn't have enough time to get everything done which was expected of him.

Being a trainer in stress management workshops, I had to analyze how we let this happen. In order to combat the tension his position caused, we've made a point to laugh and make jokes at home, his weekends were spent "unwinding", focused on his favorite sport. I had assumed the take care of the bills and insurance as well as any stressful calls on the home front. We had been making an effort to go to movies, socialize and do things that got his mind off his job. And still, he was being taken to the Intensive care unit.

I decided that as much as one can do outside of work, the most important efforts have to come from within the individual during the course of the day. No matter how much the desire is to do a job, one has to fervently insist on taking measurers that will "help oneself first"-the rest will follow in due time. I've come up with this list of stress saving tips:


  1. Allow for at least 15 minutes of meditation or quiet time before you leave for work. Studies show this gives you a necessary reservoir of strength to draw from during the day.
  2. Take your breaks and don't miss lunch.
  3. Chew on crunchy foods to alleviate the build up of stress which starts in your jaw.
  4. Take time to be prepared. It eliminates many stressful situation.
  5. Allow yourself enough time in your schedule, leave open spaces for the unexpected.
  6. Laugh. It is known that laughter reduces the harmful effects of stress. Humor can be found everywhere. Share funny anecdotes and stories with coworkers..
  7. If you feel like crying, do! Stress builds up the hormone adenocalicolrophin in your body. This hormone is secreted in tears. Crying is good!
  8. It's okay to say "I just can't right now", or simply "no".
  9. Share. Take the time to share feelings with a close co-worker or friend.
  10. Listen to motivational and inspirational tapes on the way to work.
  11. Dedicate time each day to some type physical exercise
  12. Worry is a useless expenditure of energy and time. Deal with it and let it go!
  13. Focus on something fun you are looking forward to doing.

My husband is home with blood pressure medication and trying to ease back into a normal routine. The one thing that became very clear to me during this ordeal is that while stress management can be taught, the willingness to succeed must come from within and it must be given priority. It is a lifestyle choice that a person makes. If we are going to survive our stress, it is up to each of us to make that choice. No one can do it for us.

"If it is to be, it is up to me."

Donna "Kinza" Christenson is a Motivation Strategist,

Workshop presenter and Keynote Speaker. She can be

reached at 262-567-6817 or

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