Balance, Camping, Cognitive Reframing, Cognitive Restructuring, Health & Wellness, Holiday Stress, Human Performance, Inner Peace, Michigan State Campgrounds, Positive Attitude, Self-care, Vacation

Stress Management – The Real Work: Part 1

Memorial Day

Summer’s here and for many it is vacation time. When I was a child this meant Dad and us kids getting everything packed on Friday afternoon before Mom got home from work so we would be ready to pull out of the driveway just about as soon as she arrived.

Mom and Dad had a packing list written on the panel of an old brown paper bag. This list included everything we would need for a successful “get away” weekend; certain cooking pans from the kitchen, plates, cups, silverware, blankets, sleeping bags, food, ice chest, bathing suits, warm weather clothes, cold weather clothes, tent, etc. Getting ready for a weekend stay in a Michigan State Park meant being prepared for everything!

When we arrived at our destination, everyone had their jobs to do in preparing the campsite. Mom and the girls would get all of the food ready for our evening meal while Dad and I would get the campsite set up. We had it pretty much down to a science, being able to have campsite and meal preparation take just about the same amount of time.

Sometimes we would take a few minutes to cool off in the lake before eating, or perhaps get in a refreshing swim later in the evening. Everyone helped clean up after the meal. Sometimes there would be marshmallows to roast in the evening, and sometimes Mom and Dad were so tired that we all just crawled into our sleeping bags.

What I mostly remember from these camping trips is that it took a lot of work to get away from it all. Rest was not always included in those weekends, but we did get away.

What I mostly remember from these camping trips is that it took a lot of work to get away from it all. Rest was not always included in those weekends, but we did get away.

What I mostly remember from these camping trips is that it took a lot of work to get away from it all. Packing beforehand, preparing meals, cleaning up from meals, keeping the campsite clean, packing to go home, and then putting everything away so that we could have dishes and such to use at home. Rest was not always included in those weekends, but we did get away.

The idea of taking time to rest is a healthful one that comes to us from the highest authority. “And on the seventh day God finished the work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all the work that he had done.” (Genesis 2:2, NRSV) The Creator of all things found it useful and necessary to rest, to take time to relax and renew. Jesus too, was known to take time away from the crowds during his ministry so he and his disciples could rest. Taking time for oneself to rest and re-energize is healthful and needful.

In our modern life much of the focus is on how quickly we can get things done. We try to do multiple tasks at the same time (multi-tasking is the word), always trying to do more with less and hurry, hurry, hurry. We even talk about distances in terms of time. “It takes 2 hours to get to such and such a place” instead of telling how many miles it might be. We are rewarded for increasing our levels of stress and trying to be more productive in less time with fewer people and for working longer hours than ever before.

In the 1950’s and 60’s we were led to believe that by the arrival of the year 2000 we would be leading lives of leisure, with 4-day work weeks as the norm. However, the reality of our working lives was summed up for us in a Harvard study[1] that discovered “in 1990 American workers spent an average of 164 more hours at work than they did in 1975.” Look around – this continues to be the norm. The labor-saving devices have been created, but the reality is that we are now expected to do more and more to keep up with the devices, instead of allowing us to slow down and recreate (can also be read re-create) as was projected.

So what do we do to reestablish a sense of balance in our lives? In Part 2 we explore some ideas and suggestions to help us get things better under control.

[1] Juliette Shore, Harvard Economist, 1991

Remember to be good to you!

Copyright © 2013 by Gary L. Flegal, Ph.D.

Dr. Gary Flegal is a Behavioral Medicine and Health Specialist with a doctorate in “Health Education and Human Performance” from Michigan State University. He is an exciting and accomplished presenter and keynote speaker, presenting seminars for groups and companies on location and at conventions. His advanced training in stress management came to him while working in affiliation with the original Mind/Body Medical Institute at Harvard under the direction of Herbert Benson, M.D. and his staff. In addition to corporate presentations, Dr. Flegal keeps a busy schedule working with individual clients for a variety of stress-related issues, including anger management, quitting smoking, learning to relax and manage stress, and learning self-hypnosis.

Dr. Flegal’s other passion is magic. He has been a professional magician for over 30 years and continues practicing his art at every opportunity. These two passions work together beautifully as he illustrates stress management concepts with fun, visual, and “magical” demonstrations in his stress management workshops and seminars. It also allows him to share stress management with his magic audiences wherever he goes because “Laughter is the Best Medicine!” Gary is a Reiki Master and a Certified Consulting Hypnotist, certified by the National Guild of Hypnotists.

Dr. Flegal’s specialties include stress management, anger management, positive behavior change, insomnia, smoking cessation, and exercise physiology. For individual appointments, speaking engagements, or more information, contact Gary at Professional Stress Management Services in Nashville, Tennessee, at (615)812-7280 or through his Web site:

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Posts by Dr. Gary Flegal

May 2013


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Stress can cause severe health problems if not managed properly. In extreme cases stress can lead to physical symptoms which can even cause death. While stress management techniques have been shown to have a positive effect on reducing stress, the information on this website is for guidance only. Readers should seek the advice of suitably qualified health professionals if they have any concerns over stress-related illnesses or if stress is causing significant or persistent unhappiness. Health professionals should also be consulted before any major change in diet or levels of exercise.
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