This has been a long and difficult week; numerous demands at work and a malfunctioning air conditioner at home have been the primary culprits. Then there was the backdrop of catastrophe across the globe, from the Gulf of Mexico to Wall Street to the Korean Peninsula.
As a physician, I have come to realize that recurrent periods of stress, even if relatively mild, play a major role in the pathophysiology of human disease. While some stress is unavoidable, we often augment its effects by dwelling on factors over which we have no control. This allows a sense of helplessness to pervade our daily existence, magnifying the minor troubles that are an unavoidable part of life.
Faced with an unusual amount of turmoil at work, I choose to unload my free time by putting off duties that are not of immediate concern. In addition, I tune out the global crises by ignoring television and newspapers, content to check in every few days to get an update on our tumultuous planet; music, painting and books provide excellent alternatives. Finally, I partake in my evening tour of the backyard, checking on the plants, watching wildlife and taking in the fresh air; every season offers its unique rewards and, when it comes to stress reduction, nature provides an appealing and reliable therapy.