"Relax! Don't do it!" These words sung by the 80's pop group, Frankie Goes to Hollywood sum up the serious advice of a psychologist to the rushing business owner and his neurotic, high-strung family, after reading the latest employment statistics.
Avoiding Stress Not Easy In This Climate
Americans work too many hours. According to the Center for American Progress, in 1960 only 20% of American households consisted of all adults working. Today, that figure is much higher, with 70% of American children living in such households. It doesn't matter who stays home and who works in terms of gender (choosing to work is a family choice); for when all adults are working, that's a huge hit to both the family and the overall stress level of the household.
Physicians give good general advice on how to relax, but neither they nor their patients know very much about how to relax during bouts with stress associated with work. One statistic reveals that 85% of all adult males and 67% of all adult females work in excess of 40 hours per week, and in another, 90% of American mothers and 95% of American fathers report work-family conflict. Americans are being worked to the point where its nearly impossible to find time for stress relief, and nevertheless, experience increasing difficulties in determining proper therapeutic methods.
Bottom line: You can't avoid stress just by forcing yourself into frequent catnaps. You can never relax by rushing off on a hurried vacation trip. And you may not be able to do either during a "rest cure" sabbatical. It's all in knowing the "how."
Finding Ways to Relax
Finding relaxation is the most effective way to combat stress. Persons who have mastered the art of relaxation can, after five or ten minutes of such relief of tensions, experience a freshness like that which follows hours of good, deep sleep. Not that it is so difficult to learn, not at all! Children can, and should be taught how to relax, just as they are taught how to ride a bicycle. Statistics show that those who master the art of relaxation tend to lead happier, healthier lives. The solution? Listen to Classical music, give your personal interests an audience, and during particularly difficult times, try to articulate something small, like a single musical note, a color, or a positive word; and for those needing professional help may find that a psychologist who specializes in stress therapy works best for them.
To learn more about ways to reduce stress, ask our panel of doctors or check out our resources section.