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Hemelt: Living healthy is your best fight in war on stress

Stress takes an amazing toll on our bodies.

Life, and all of its unexpected curveballs, hits like a freight train and the resulting stress lingers for weeks on end. Problems always seem to multiply when solutions are at their toughest to grasp.

That was my situation this week, as my family’s ever-present vehicle concerns again reared their ugly heads.

My truck (scheduled to get fixed this week but again delayed) was out of commission, forcing me to use my sister’s old college Chevrolet Tracker.

Although not easy on the eyes and pretty darn loud in action, that bad boy has kept me afloat for the past three months. Well, all good things come to an end, and so did the Tracker Thursday morning as I was traveling around LaPlace.

Like any smart and independent man, I immediately called my wife for help. She picked up, only to inform me her tire sprung a leak and was on the side of the road herself using an air compressor to pump up her tire just enough to get it serviced.

There is a lesson in there — one that I preach to my children but failed to address personally — I let my initial truck problem linger while I looked for the ultimate deal and now ran smack into three vehicle problems all at once.

Luckily, a friendly coworker picked me up, my wife made it to a local tire shop and my Thursday ended with her back on the road and me with just two vehicles in the shop.

My father, who retired all of two weeks ago, did his best to save the day by joining us for my son’s baseball game and taking the group out to dinner to close the evening.

Hey, it was far from perfect, but it is good to know there are kind people and family members there when you need them most.

With such a set of challenges, I found it amusing to receive a column the same day from Richard Purvis. The author of “Recalibrate: Six Secrets to Resetting Your Age” contacted L’OBSERVATEUR to submit a column titled “3 Ways Stress Takes A Toll On Your Body” in advance of Stress Awareness Month, which is in April.

“Stress, of course, is not always a bad thing,” he says. “It does serve a positive purpose. It can keep us alert and prepares us to avoid danger. But stress becomes a negative factor when a person faces continuous challenges without any time mixed in for relief or relaxation.”

As a result, Purvis says, people become overworked, and stress-related anxiety and illness can occur. The strain leads them to suffer from such ailments as headaches, upset stomach, elevated blood pressure, chest pain and problems sleeping.

According to Purvis, chronic stress often keeps muscles in a state of guardedness, greatly impacts a person’s normal eating and drinking routines and often wreaks havoc on a person’s stomach through ulcers or severe pain.

“Since you can’t avoid your job, bills or other life experiences, the best thing to do is learn to manage stress,” Purvis says. “You won’t avoid stress entirely, but it is possible to minimize the effects by eating healthy, exercising regularly, getting enough sleep and taking care of yourself in general.”

It’s not rocket science, but it’s certainly true. Problems, and the stress that come with them, aren’t going away for anyone. Living healthy is always our best solution. Not letting problems linger goes a long way, as well. I hope it’s a lesson learned.

Stephen Hemelt is publisher and editor of L’OBSERVATEUR. He can be reached at 985-652-9545 or stephen.hemelt@lobservateur.com.