Get Ahead of Summer Stress
> 6/6/2007 11:33:49 AM

With the dog days of summer quickly approaching, waiting on long lines to board your favorite thrill ride or sitting in interminable beach traffic might not seem like much of a problem, but these small everyday stressors do add up.

To help prevent those small stressors from becoming big problems, Professor of Integrative Medicine at Portland State University and single mother of three, Claire Michaels Wheeler, M.D., Ph.D has authored a book called, 10 Simple Solutions to Stress. According to Dr. Wheeler, major life events such as divorce or a natural disaster can actually have less of an impact than everyday stressors. Often these large issues trip our psychological defense mechanisms, where smaller stressors might not, meaning that small stuff can build up and do some damage.

In a press release for her book, Wheeler said:

"Once you accept that stress is a fact of life, the key to managing it is not falling back on the bad habits or coping mechanisms we're all so tempted to rely on.

In the release, Wheeler includes 10 tips to beat summer stress. Our favorites include:

Be a Problem Solver -- Instead of mulling a problem over and over and getting nowhere, put a pen to paper and brainstorm steps for dealing with it. Be unrealistic and fanciful and see where it takes you. You'll get a big-picture perspective of negative outcomes and learn how much or little control you have to deal with the problem and if, perhaps, you should simply seek support in others.

Seek Out Information -- This will reduce feelings of uncertainty and alleviate stress from short-term challenges -- particularly many health problems -- that can be readily researched. On the other hand, for long-term challenges or challenges you have little or no control over, seeking out information can lead to hyper-vigilance or obsession that becomes a stressor in itself.

Practice Mental Simulation -- Take yourself through a stressful event such as a party or move and see yourself staying calm, making good decisions and experiencing a positive outcome. The mental imagery is a dress rehearsal, which helps you see what aspects of the event you can control or change and what resources such as humor or concentration you'll need to succeed.

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