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Greek-American Stories: How to Deal with Stress

Stress is the plague of the Twentieth and Twenty First Century. And, unfortunately, the twenty second century doesn’t look very promising, either. But, it’s not a new emotion. Just think of poor Socrates, a nice guy whose wife couldn’t tolerate him. So, he went outside where he spoke to strangers and asked a lot of philosophical questions. His challenges and deductions began to stress certain public figures – big time – so they put him on trial and his own stress was so overwhelming that he took hemlock to cure it. But, it cured the stress of his accusers, too. So, Hemlock is not the answer.

I believe in a ‘do-it-yourself’ strategy. Of course, there are experts with fancy diplomas that profess they can ‘cure’ you of your tensions. But, when you get their bill you’ll find your stress level can then far exceed your former stress. Visiting a friend in the hospital, in the lobby is saw a stack of papers on a counter that read, ‘101 Ways to cope with STRESS.’ I took one home. Some of the items listed sounded interesting, some were funny, and a few were…really impractical. But I decided to share some of them with you. I’m not going to list the 101. That would take reams of paper and then I’d get a phone call from an irritated copy editor (Dean Sirigos).

Just let me list those that I believe will pertain to you and me. Here are the few selections:

Try saying, ‘NO’ more often. (I agree! especially when someone wants to borrow money off you.) Avoid negative people (One’s spouse has to be an exception.) Make and fly a paper airplane. (But, don’t try it at work.) Sing a favorite song out loud. (I suggest not in a bus or elevator, please.) Visit a different church. (Leave before the collection plate comes around.) Have a picnic in the park. (Wait till the snow clears.) Hug someone. (It’ll be safer if you know the party.) Find support from others. (But carry your cell phone if you happen to be on a tall ladder.) Put on a T-shirt and kick back. (I don’t know about that! I’d wear more clothing.) Have a support network of people. (This could be very useful during jury selection.) Freely praise other people. (Hey, there! That’s a nice rifle!) Wear a funky tie or hat to work. (Bring along the ‘want ads’ for later.) Call a long distant friend. (“That you, Andrea? Where‘ve you been? I thought you kicked the bucket years ago.”) Read a poem. (OK: “Mary had a little lamb…”) Plant a tree on your birthday. (Not if you live in Mid-Manhattan or the Bronx.) Take a nap on the couch. (YOUR couch.) Pick wild flowers from a beautiful field (look for “private property” signs first.) Walk in the rain. (Just make sure the winds are below 80 MPH and don’t forget your boots!) Look at your problems as challenges. (Especially if he’s armed.) Teach a kid to fly a kite. (Make sure you know the kid.) Look for the silver lining. (Get this straight: Not the silver in someone’s lining.) Stop blaming others. (Yeah! Especially, when you know you did it!) Visualize yourself winning. (Now, that’s something I do with every lottery scratch off I buy.) Try a new menu item. (Hmm! Ox tails in gravy? I’ll pass!) Listen to a symphony. (That was a sure cure for my insomnia). Look at photos from past years. (Now, that stressed me out! How th’ hell did I get that old?) Avoid bringing your work home. (Especially, if you work for the Department of Sanitation.) Simplify your meals. (Bread and water?) Be more cheerful and optimistic. (Will the pandemic really be gone by 2029?) Recognize the importance of unconditional love. (Don’t worry, Mugsy, I’ll wait for you even if it’s a twenty year sentence!)

The last item on the list is: P.S. Relax! Take life one day at a time. You have the rest of your life to live. (Ya’ know? No Noah, or no ark, I think it’s time for another flood!)

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