Stress aware­ness month: Can we sur­vive it? “S

Rome News-Tribune - - EDITORIALS AND OPINION -

tress Aware­ness Month,” spon­sored ev­ery April since 1992 by the Health Re­source Net­work, is now half over. Are you stressed out that you haven’t done more to cel­e­brate it?

I’m glad I sur­vived the pre-1992 Bad Old Days, be­fore we numbskulls had a spe­cial month to make us slow down and re­al­ize the health im­pact of stress.

Yes, be­fore 1992, the gen­er­a­tions who put a man on the moon and de­vel­oped the in­ter­net would suc­cumb to de­pres­sion, stroke or ad­dic­tion be­cause of tyran­ni­cal bosses, three-hour com­mutes and cheat­ing spouses – with­out ever putting two and two to­gether! Thank­fully, “Stress Aware­ness Month” (in­spired by “Gap­ing Chest Wound Aware­ness Month”) came along.

(To be fair, a lot of us did think putting a piece of duct tape over the “check en­gine soon” light would sig­nal the car fairies to solve all au­to­mo­tive de­fi­cien­cies, so maybe the Stress Aware­ness nudge isn’t so con­de­scend­ing af­ter all.)

Okay, I get it. Aware­ness (of the causes, ef­fects and reme­dies for stress) em­pow­ers us to make changes. And an an­nual cam­paign is a nice re­minder, but each tightly wound per­son must ad­dress his own prob­lems at his own pace.

When my wife tells me “Re­lax your mus­cles for this blood pres­sure check” or my mother scolds, “Don’t get all up­tight,” it does NOT in fact in­spire me to mel­low out. It’s about as coun­ter­pro­duc­tive as telling some­one “As soon as you get your PMS un­der con­trol, I’ll ex­plain some­thing to you” or “If you don’t stop see­ing racial un­der­tones in ev­ery­thing, I’m go­ing to smash this wa­ter­melon up­side your head.”

A blog­ger for the Huff­in­g­ton Post ad­vised, “Take time to walk away from tech­nol­ogy.” Yes, the ab­sence of ear­buds and ring­ing smart­phones helped folks sur­rounded by the bubonic plague to mer­rily en­joy the chants of “Bring out your dead!”

Fed­eral reg­u­la­tions have ren­dered many tried and true re­lax­ation tech­niques in­ef­fec­tive. You can’t just “go to your happy place,” be­cause you might find it’s cor­doned off as a pro­tected wet­land.

Some peo­ple use re­li­gion to over­come the stres­sors in their lives, but the re­sults may not be com­pletely sat­is­fy­ing. (“I let Je­sus take the wheel, but my &^%$# ex-wife al­ready had the REST of the Mercedes.”)

CNBC listed the 10 most stress­ful jobs in Amer­ica, but they re­ally should have broad­ened their scope. Surely be­ing Syr­ian pres­i­dent is a stress­ful job. Af­ter re­cent de­vel­op­ments about poi­son gas, Bashar al-As­sad doesn’t even dare un­wind by play­ing the old “Pull my fin­ger” gag with his nieces and neph­ews.

Ac­cord­ing to a Wal­letHub study quoted by “U.S. News & World Re­port,” all 10 of the most­stressed states are be­low the Ma­son-Dixon line. Yes, we south­ern­ers may need to re­place the Rebel Yell with the Rebel Pri­mal Scream. We have to stop seek­ing com­fort in our artery-clog­ging “com­fort foods.” Of course we’re re­plac­ing that with the nag­ging fear that some­where some­one is “en­joy­ing” an even blander diet than we are.

We south­ern­ers have to over­come those hangups like wak­ing up in the mid­dle of the night to wonder,”Did I ac­ci­den­tally say ‘bless his pi­tu­itary gland’ in­stead of ‘bless his heart’?”

Let’s sup­port Stress Aware­ness Month, even if April may not be the most ap­pro­pri­ate month. Peo­ple may be think­ing, “April. Show­ers. Hitch­cock. Is Nor­man Bates lurk­ing in my bath­room? I’m sud­denly hav­ing pain, anx­i­ety and gas­troin­testi­nal dis­or­ders. Bring out your EMTs!” DANNY TYREE

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