Written By: Molly Kavanaugh
Colby, only 3 years old, knows how to deal with stress. “I watch the gerbils,” says the preschooler at Kendal’s Early Learning Center.
Learning how to handle stress at a young age is wise, given that it is a lifetime companion. Sometimes it even moves in with us, zaps our energy and steals our sleep.You probably have a list of trusty stress busters, but you might want to check some of these out, compliments of Colby’s classmates:
- “I go to the park and it makes me feel better to play with somebody.” Evelyn, 5
- “My mom always throws a pan in the air and it helps me.” Jonathon, 3
- “I look at pictures of my family.” Curtis, 4
- “I get kinda anxious and frustrated and I go somewhere to be alone until I feel better.” Phoebe, 5
As for the Early Learning Center teachers, Sara eats chocolate, Robin drinks wine, Karen goes to Target, and Jeni eats and shops.
Ask the Experts
Over the years United Methodist ministers Gary Olin and Sally Nelson-Olin have come to rely on a few phrases when talking to church members, relatives and friends about stress.
“What’s the worst thing that can happen?” Sometimes the casualty is minor – a less-than-perfect dinner party – but other times it can be a life changer. Regardless, Sally says, it helps people to look at the bigger picture and “name” their fear, which lessens its ability to cause stress.
“Let’s make a plan.” Gary says this simple statement is important for two reasons: It includes the listener in the plan, which helps the anxious person feel better, and the plan gives the person some control over what might feel, and be, an uncontrollable situation.
“Not my circus, not my monkeys.” Sally says this mantra is a good reminder to let go of the stress we take on because of the drama and antics of another person.
The couple, now retired and living at Kendal, finds music, meditation, prayer, yoga, deep breathing, walking and other physical activities helpful in reducing stress. They follow the news and keep informed, but limit their exposure to the constant coverage.
Here are 5 of them:
- Use Pencil, not Pen
- Give Away your (Superhero) Cape
Speaking of laughter, watch this short video from Laughter Yoga and your stress will surely slip away as you laugh along!
Developed by Dr. Madan Kataria from India, the idea behind Laughter Yoga is that even “fake” laughter brings oxygen to the brain, which creates energy and relaxation and reduces stress and illness. We all remember how Norman Cousins recovered from a debilitating disease, in part, by watching funny movies, recounted in “Anatomy of an Illness.”
Laughter is heard a lot on the Kendal campus, and not just from the Early Learning Center. Along with laughing, residents have lots of other methods to help them mellow.
- “Nothing better than a warm cat or two.” Jean Slonneger
- “A jog (2 miles) in the morning, 20-minute nap after lunch, gardening in the afternoon, and writing short stories in the evening. A good night’s sleep also helps.” Don Parker, 81
- “Just living at Kendal relieves the stress many of us experienced in the ‘working world.’” Grace Tompos
- “I like to make watercolor paintings. It takes total concentration, so the wheels spinning in my brain slow down and I end up making something beautiful.” Louise Luckenbill, 79
- “I remember all the stressors that moving to Kendal jettisoned from my life.” Marjorie Porter, 77
- “Bicycling in good weather, baking bread in all weathers.” Bob Longsworth, 78
- “I knit. I snack. I do online jigsaw puzzles. I snack. I read. I snack!” Priscilla Steinberg, 82
- “I relieve stress by holding a purring cat while reading a good book.” Nancy Garver, 80
CEO Barbara Thomas has a daily recipe. “I start or end the day with exercise and finish with 40 minutes in my massage chair. Yum,” she says.
Other staff recipes:
- “Conversation and a glass of wine with a dear friend. Works every time!” Maggie Stark
- “Exercise, Exercise, and more Exercise!” Rey Carrion
- “Ride my bicycle in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, especially on a warm, sunny day.” Terry Kovach
- “A visit to the Kendal gym with some (don’t judge) surprising heavy metal music, the best part is it is free. My other favorite stress reliever is walking my dog Angus. He doesn’t talk back and will listen to anything I say as long as I have a treat in my hand.” Lisa Wilken
- “Go for a walk in nature. Observe something in nature for 15 minutes or more. Sit in silence. Shamanic Journeying.” Jill Connone
- “I love to swim in the morning before work.” JoDee Palmer
Tell us how you deal with stress. Please comment below.
Written By: Molly Kavanaugh