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We Made Peace with Our Stress

Prevention Magazine



Do you really need to feel so frazzled? We teamed up four worn-out women with the ideal tension-taming experts for 3 weeks. Steal their tips to de-stress your day.

"My mother really needs me"
Barbara Meltzer, 64
"I know I can't eliminate the anxiety of caring for my 90-year-old mother, but I do feel better able to handle it."

By this time in her life, Barbara thought she'd be retired and relaxing. Instead, she's running her own company and is the primary caregiver for her elderly mother.

We asked Marion Somers, PhD, former manager of the Professional Geriatric Care Management Certificate Program at Hunter College's Brookdale Center on Aging for advice.

Delegate tasks
Barbara should allow someone else, like a nurse's aide, to take on at least three tasks a week for her mother. Also, she could reduce the length of her 4-days-a-week, 1- to 3-hour visits. With the time gained, she could do something fun.

Set small goals
To regain control of her unorganized home and high-stress job and feel less overwhelmed, Somers suggests Barbara set more manageable goals. So instead of thinking, I need to redo the bedroom, concentrate on organizing one corner on a Saturday afternoon.

Start with calm
Each morning, Barbara needs to earmark 15 minutes to do nothing but meditate, stretch, or take a brisk walk. If "me" time is the first priority of the day, it's less likely to be pushed aside, Somers says.

The Results
Biggest surprise "Putting aside 15 minutes for myself had a huge impact. My before-breakfast walk really set the tone for the day. I focused on my surroundings and the fresh air--not on everyone else."

Best Advice
"I started carving out 15-minute blocks to tackle tasks, such as sorting through piles of papers. Little by little, my apartment, my office, and my life have become significantly less cluttered."

Toughest Tip
"I can't bear to let others take care of my mom. Although it means less free time, I actually feel less stressed in the long run if I'm there for her. But I did delegate more at work and was surprised how much more I could accomplish because of it."

"Letting go of my need to do everything at the office has been a revelation. I feel more relaxed and able to accomplish more things in my life." --Barbara

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