CG Orders

Soothing Stress...In the Military ©

Soothing Stress...In the Military ©
by Susie Mantell, award-winning author of the soothing relaxation CD, "Your Present: A Half-Hour of Peace"

[Find more of Susie's FREE stress tips at ]

Dear Friends at,

Even before the global events and extended deployments of the 21st century, I'd always thought every family affiliated with the DoD should somehow be given a little "standard issue goody bag" on Day One, overflowing with realistic, quick and easy, stress-relief and relaxation aids. Of course, some degree of worry and sleeplessness, profound sense of responsibility and those inevitable lonely moments were always inherent in being a military family. Now, the uncertainty, cumbersome responsibilities and worry at home, can be consuming. So let's see what we can do about that right here...right now in case you, like many, find there are moments when your find your shoulders somewhere up around your ears, that suddenly the star of "Sleepless in...Wherever" . . .or your fuse is, well. . .a little short


Simply put, stress is a signal that something needs to change. It's the body-mind's innate response to internal and external factors that disrupt normal functioning or disturb emotional, cognitive or physical well-being. Perhaps you've heard stories of say, a 5' 2" mother suddenly lifting a car to save her baby? That's the "Fight or Flight" response of the central nervous system that engages whenever stress, fear, anger or pain are this case working FOR her. In this automatic reaction, pulse quickens, blood-flow to the large muscle groups increases (as if literally preparing do battle ...or run for our lives!) Respiration quickens and becomes more shallow, and stress hormones release to meet what is perceived as a crisis. But when these resources are summoned unnecessarily and habitually due to excessive stress levels, it sends an "emergency" signal that sets in motion a mechanism that while "helping," can tax our intricate systems.

Mindful relaxation, for example meditation in various forms, is a kind of physiological self-regulator to counter the "Fight or Flight" response and when we enter a meditative state, muscles begin to relax, respiration and blood-flow slow, as adrenaline and cortisol levels shift. This re-balancing process allows the inner wisdom of the mind-body to surface, providing an open space for psychological and physiological healing. While meditation, moderate exercise and other relaxation techniques may not necessarily cure, they are a powerful, drug-free complement to professional health care. Symptoms can often be substantially diminished, thereby greatly enhancing quality of life. Some stressors are obvious, but there are others of which we may not be aware, such as ambient noise, poor air quality, food sensitivities, smells, visual over-stimulation, fatigue. Multiple stressors have a cumulative effect, compounding and increasing impact.


Yup. And stress happens to us all...every day. It is how we cope that will determine its impact. How we experience an event determines its "stress value" for us.

Here are 4 women's responses to the exact same event: A FLAT TIRE
1."Oh, no! My life is ruined...."Hello, 'Suicide Prevention'?"
2."What a pain! Oh well, I'll call AAA, and then get on with my day..."
3."Hey! Glad I took that Auto Shop class. This'll be a piece-a-cake."
4."Whoa--That AAA guy was a babe! This must be my lucky day!"

INTERNAL STRESS TRIGGERS are determined by individual bio-chemistry, (e.g. number of endorphin receptor sites) genetics, predisposition toward addictive disease, sensitivities and allergies, etc.

EXTERNAL STRESS TRIGGERS may be determined by conditioning (e.g. How your mom handled stress), witnessing addictive behaviors acted out, environmental factors, relationships, quality of life, the media, job satisfaction, etc.


Remember: Stress is cumulative, therefore its effects on health, inner peace, relationships, and even our appearance, are also cumulative. But so is Stress-Reduction. Ongoing daily practices are like money in the bank for a rainy day. Unaddressed stress can compromise health, suppress immunity, depress mood, drain confidence, deplete self-esteem, tax relationships, systems and organizations.

Modifying our response to both internal and external stressors may provide:
Inner calm & serenity
More efficient use of nutrients
Better oxygenation of skin, hair and nails
Release of endorphins which diminish pain and elevate mood
Strengthened immunity



1. Turn off the ringer on the phone. Hang "Do Not Disturb" on your door. (Mean it!) Set timer: 5 min.
2. Closing your eyes, settle them on a far-off horizon. Notice muscles around the eyes beginning to let go.
3. Inhaling slowly into the belly...exhale through the shoulders as your scalp, face, neck begin softening. Imagine melting the body...releasing...
4. Visualize yourself exactly where you'd like to be today. Bermuda? A mountain cabin? Your grandmother's kitchen? Picture it in great detail. (e.g. If it's the beach, is it warm and sunny? Breezy and cool? Waves crashing wildly, or gently lapping the shore? Smell the salt air.) Experience your dream vacation, complete with sensations, sounds, smells.
5. When the timer rings, see yourself moving through the rest of your day in this relaxed state, and travel back gently, slowly, to resume your day.


I know "whining is for sissies"? but this kind might just improve your health and relationships! This is a fun stress-buster when you just don't have time or energy for anything more complicated. (Especially effective on those evenings when you walk into the house after a miserable day, longing to talk about it...only to find that someone ELSE has been waiting all day to do the same! It's also fun if you have a neighbor or work-buddy to whine with, to break up a crazy-busy day.

- Find a friend or family member and decide who goes first.
- Set a timer for one minute. - Person #1 now gets to WHINE--- about as
- MANY issues as you can fit in a minute! Whine fast! Use your hands, shoulders, exaggerated facial expressions.. complain.. nag..moan..
- Okay, now whine a little louder...faster... Really let it rip! - Switch.
- Chances are, if you whine fast enough.... you'll probably both end up laughing----the best stress-buster of all!
[Coming Next Month: Sleep Tips for Sweeter Dreams!]


Q: Dear Susie, My husband has been away for 12 months with a likely extension looming. 3 kids, a job and my home take up most of my time, yet I still want to go school, join a health club, become active in my community and in church. I have so little time. How do I manage all this without burning out?

A: You've described a very full plate, and unfortunately, not an uncommon state of affairs for military spouses. For many people, juggling responsibilities of work, family, home, health -- and remember recreation? -- is a daunting task and often our personal needs fall at the bottom of our "to do" list. One of the first things I tell people is to take a look at Nutrition, Sleep and Exercise in their lives with particular attention to sugar, caffeine, and alcohol. (Nothing drastic. Just observe and modify. It's the simplest change we can make to reduce stress quickly.) Perhaps finding very brief breaks in small portions throughout your day is going to be the only way, for the moment, that you can get the respite you need.

Read just one article in a magazine, set a timer for 5 minutes and call a friend. (You'll be surprised how much you can share. If you were having your teeth drilled for 5 minutes, it would be a l-o-n-g time!) Walk around the house if the block takes too long, straighten one drawer--not the whole bureau.

Realistic expectations are very important so that relaxation techniques and stress-management can fit within personal lifestyles and belief systems. Is there a way for you to get out to dinner with a friend once in a while? Or better yet, close the door to your room (obviously, knowing your children are well-supervised) and take mini-meditation breaks. Inhaling, cool white light... exhaling through the shoulders... Even curling up for a 10 minute nap may give you a little break and restore your weary spirit.

It concerns me whenever people find one thing that works and consider that their only stress-management technique. Whatever exercise or meditative practice, or hobbies and recreational activities we enjoy, we should be continually collecting new ones we can draw upon. We see this often, for example, in runners. There also are behaviors that fall into the category of addictive or compulsive in nature that may for the short term, feel like they are offering relief from stress or numbing emotion, but over time may have deleterious impact on oneself, and others.

There are many, many more situations in life about which we have some degree of choice, than we realize. So in some cases, even when it feels like we're up against the wall, somewhere, if we start getting creative, and looking around, there may be an exit or an alternative path somewhere. Stress happens every day, many times a day, to varying degrees. That is why I strongly encourage you to create and explore many different techniques and strategies for coping with stress. It's a good idea to take a look at your own repertoire of stress-management activities, and continually re-evaluate and look for new ones that may include breathing techniques, creative activities, and best of all. . .pretty much anything makes you laugh! [ see
70 Ways to Feel Really Good...Fast!" ]

Until next time, my warmest wishes that Springtime brings new Hope, restored Faith, warm-weather fun, and as always, above all...


National stress-relief expert Susie Mantell's soothing, award-winning relaxation CD, "Your Present: A Half-Hour of Peace" is physician-recommended to relieve Stress & Sleeplessness, Pain, Depression, Addiction rRecovery and PTSD. Featured in The Los Angeles Times, NBC,ABC -TV, Billboard, Navy-Marine Corps Relief Services, Memorial Sloan-Kettering, and The American Pain Society, listeners include The Mayo Clinic, U.S. V.A. facilities, Canyon Ranch (BEST SPA,") F.F.S.C.'s and MWR's. Customizing programs for American Express, Remington, The Arthritis Foundation, The National Conference on Loss, and The Coca-Cola Company , her techniques are found in Cosmopolitan, McCalls, WebMD and syndicated press. Fine more Free Stress-Relief Tips or Order "Your Present: A Half-Hour of Peace" at: (SPECIAL: ORDER 5--GET 1 FREE!)
NOTE: Copyright © 2000, 2003 All rights reserved. For reprint email:
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Susie Mantell and Relax...Intuit(tm)LLC offer support as an adjunct to, but not a substitute for, professional health care.