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By Diana Diamond

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About this blog: So much is right — and wrong — about what is happening in Palo Alto. In this blog I want to discuss all that with you. I know many residents care about this town, and I want to explore our collective interests to help ...  (More)

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Man-up about stressing-out

Uploaded: Dec 8, 2021
Thanksgiving week was so stressful, wasn't it?" my white-haired elderly neighbor said as she waked by my driveway. "I just came back from Safeway and I could feel everyone's stress."

I had not thought much about stress, although I do acknowledge that in just the idea of going through another variant shutdown, complete with masks, distancing and lockdowns, I realized I was the alto part of the chorus of weariness in American once again.

But that got me to realize that we here in northern California may have become babies about any inconvenience -- hot weather, cold weather, too much traffic, noisy leaf blowers, airplanes flying above our houses, etc.

In reality, we have really been extremely lucky -- no fires or floods in our area, too many wonderful sunny days (unfortunately not even a real rainstorm yet), no hurricanes, no fires blazing through our ocal hills and burning our homes, etc. Others in the country have gone through raging rainstorms that flood their streets, hurricanes that result in weeks without electricity, and blizzards up north. Indeed, we are blessed.

"I can't stand wearing a mask inside anymore," some have said. "I want my freedom; I am going to disregard this covid pandemic and do what I want when I want mask-free!"

Sure, wouldn't we in some way want to do that? But we don't because omicron spreads, masks check the spread, and we don't want others to die. This pandemic is still with us, we hope it will soon become "only" an endemic. Going around mask-free at Christmas parties will not get us there.

And then I thought this Dec. 7, Pearl Harbor remembrance day, about all those people who have gone through wars -- our grandparents and great-grandparents in Europe during WW II, the almost routine Nazi bombing of the Brits who patiently ran underground daily and suffered through this; the people of Afghanistan who have lived through a seemingly never-ending war, part of the constantly get-even battles in the Mideast.

I can't imagine being an Afghan mother frantically waiting each day for a son or daughter to come home, hoping there were no bombs that day - or the next day, or week, or year.

And then I think of us, here today, as we complain about all the noise from the airplanes flying above. However, we don't complain about flying in those very same planes.

Stress is defined as a state of mental or emotional strain caused by adverse circumstances.

But over recent years, stress has become the latest illness du jour. We're not just busy, anymore; we are stressed. Buying Christmas presents causes three months of self-proclaimed stress, and our friends nod and agree with us.

We complain about our children being stressed. A couple of years ago here in Palo Alto parents worried about the amount of homework our high school teenagers were getting, and parents claimed the two hours of studying at home was stressing their sons and daughters. What's wrong with that? They were assigned homework so that they could study and learn.

Yes, stress has become a new buzz word, for having too much or maybe too little to do. But sometimes and in some ways, we need stress because it produces a good result. Being busy used to be good; we've upgraded busy to stress, and now that's a bad thing.

Some parents say their college kids were so stressed this past year or two that they certainly didn't want their kids to have summer jobs. They needed to relax for the three summer months before going back to college for another year -- of stress -- and dating?

Yes, we are stressed out, but let's man up (and woman-up) about it. Optimistically speaking, we can handle it -- just try.
What is it worth to you?


Posted by Melanie Fredricks, a resident of Atherton,
on Dec 8, 2021 at 11:18 am

Melanie Fredricks is a registered user.

Stress is all in one's head and some people handle it better than others because
when it comes to dealing with day-to-day realities, everyone lives in their own private world.

The key to alleviating stress is (1) don't bite off more than you can chew, (2) accept the fact that the others who often irritate or exasperate you are buffoons, (3) enjoy an occasional alcohol-fused beverage, and/or (4) fire-up some medical marijuana as all use is medicinal.

Next question?

Posted by Jennifer, a resident of another community,
on Dec 8, 2021 at 11:21 am

Jennifer is a registered user.

Some people do handle stress better than others, and some people live more stressful lives. Stress is real. It's how you process stress that matters. You can handle it in a healthy or unhealthy manner. The choice is yours. Peace.

Posted by Bystander, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Dec 8, 2021 at 11:38 am

Bystander is a registered user.

There's an old adage that life is full of pressures. Stress is how we deal with it.

Pressure to be somewhere on time, pressure to produce something on time, pressure to give the right thing, pressure to be the right thing. We can take these in our stride, often by choice. Does it really matter if I'm 5 minutes late? Does it really matter if I buy for the pot luck rather than make from scratch? Does it really matter if the birthday card does not say sister (or brother, or show age?) Most people make big issues out of things that can make very little difference a week later.

Stressing out in the little things can make us overwrought.

You are right, the big things have become more important since the pandemic. We find it hard to picture ourselves living in the realities of war, of hunger, of a terror attack. We should instead be counting our blessings - whatever that means to each of us.

Posted by Melba Taylor, a resident of Old Mountain View,
on Dec 8, 2021 at 2:38 pm

Melba Taylor is a registered user.

An inability to manage stress effectively can often lead to high blood pressure, eating disorders, and alcoholism.

My son who is a bit of a New Age kook has suggested that congested cities with a substantial number of inhabitants, shoppers, and commuters should consider building 'wellness kiosks' scattered throughout their communities.

These are conical soundproof structures resembling a teepee where one can individually enter and relax, creating a temporary and private haven of its own.

An individual cardkey issued by the city to paying subscribers would allow for entrance and prevent homeless people from misappropriating the various kiosks for their own personal necessities.

A set time limit of a one hour per usage period should be sufficient as the only questions remaining are where to place them without further congesting sidewalks, parks, and shopping areas and whether the city council would allocate funding for such measures.

Posted by Jamie Long, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis,
on Dec 9, 2021 at 12:31 pm

Jamie Long is a registered user.

"a New Age kook has suggested that congested cities...should consider building 'wellness kiosks' scattered throughout their communities...where one can individually enter and relax, creating a temporary and private haven of its own."

A 'New Age kook' indeed as there are countless other options readily available for relieving stress.

Hopefully, these conceptual stress reduction 'kiosks' will not be playing any of that boring & monotonous New Age music from the likes of various Wyndam Hill artists.

Posted by William Hitchens, a resident of Mountain View,
on Dec 9, 2021 at 12:37 pm

William Hitchens is a registered user.

My stress levels have increased because of Holiday Traffic Madness and especially late sunrises and early sunsets. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). I've never seen Grant Rd as bad as it was yesterday at 3:45 PM --- totally clogged up in both directions at El Camino Hospital. Why are they doing road work during the worst traffic month of the year??? Seems like everyone is running around like obsessive-compulsive, hyperactive chickens with their heads cut off.

Posted by Jim Lange, a resident of Cuesta Park,
on Dec 9, 2021 at 12:55 pm

Jim Lange is a registered user.

With the possible exception of the 2020 Covid-19 lockdown, Grant Road has always been a traffic bottleneck for those simply trying to get from Point A to Point B on a local scale. The commuter gridlock emanating from Highway 85 and approaching El Camino Real is the primarily culprit.

Cuesta Drive and Springer Road are also problematic as there are way too many commuters using these roads as shortcuts to wherever it is they are headed.

Phyliss Avenue has also become an alternative means of bypassing the heavily congested and relatively short traffic route from ECR to Grant Road.

Stress-related traffic cannot be dealt with effectively because there are simply too many people and too many cars.

Posted by Peter Maldonado, a resident of Palo Verde,
on Dec 9, 2021 at 1:44 pm

Peter Maldonado is a registered user.

>> Stress-related traffic cannot be dealt with effectively because there are simply too many people and too many cars.

^^ Which is why many Tesla owners rely on its auto-pilot mode. This is a set & forget feature that allows the driver to focus on other things.

Posted by Bystander, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Dec 10, 2021 at 12:40 pm

Bystander is a registered user.

I was delayed sitting in standstill traffic on the highway feeling annoyed about being held up and wondering how late I would end up at my destination. Then I started to think about it. Several cars in a major crash. Many families having their lives turned upside down. I was just a little late, but I was not injured or worse.

It helped thinking about the other families. My stress level was reduced as I could really appreciate the fact that I or my family were not involved. Hoping the other families can recover well.

Posted by Mavis Johnson, a resident of Barron Park,
on Dec 10, 2021 at 2:01 pm

Mavis Johnson is a registered user.

Stress can emanate from having to deal with other people, adverse financial situations, and personal/family health issues.

Outside of health issues, the first two factors can be dealt with relatively easily. Just avoid toxic people (including certain family members) and live within one's means, making common sense sacrifices regarding frivolous, non-essential consumer goods.

A simple life alleviates stress. A complicated one increases stress.

Posted by Bob Escovido, a resident of Adobe-Meadow,
on Dec 11, 2021 at 12:00 pm

Bob Escovido is a registered user.

Trying to keep up appearances also creates unnecessary stress.

This is an ongoing ailment that countless superficial people DESERVE.

Posted by Virginia+Smedberg, a resident of Old Palo Alto,
on Dec 12, 2021 at 4:02 am

Virginia+Smedberg is a registered user.

thank you, bystander, for reminding us that everything is not about ME.
As for traffic - yeah, I loved the lack of traffic during shutdown. But I've learned that since I need to be on the road at certain times that others also need to, I just have to allow add'l time. When possible I bike or take the train, but sometimes I have to be in my car. "Beam me up (or out)..."

Posted by Annette, a resident of College Terrace,
on Dec 12, 2021 at 7:56 pm

Annette is a registered user.

I think it might be very zen to live near Melanie Fredricks. Love this blog and her response to it. Thank you, Diana.

Posted by Robyn Jeffries, a resident of Cuesta Park,
on Dec 13, 2021 at 11:38 am

Robyn Jeffries is a registered user.

People often create their own levels or degree of 'stress'.

One good example is holiday stress where people stress unnecessarily to find the right holiday gift(s) for various ingrates, entertaining holiday guests, preparing sumptuous holiday dinners, and/or dealing with distasteful relatives over holiday gatherings.

The Hallmark interpretation of Christmas creates stress and perhaps it would be best to eliminate Christmas altogether as nowadays it has absolutely nothing to do with celebrating the birth of Christ...just dollar signs and reciprocal gift giving.

Posted by Jennifer, a resident of another community,
on Dec 13, 2021 at 3:23 pm

Jennifer is a registered user.

I agree that some people create their own stress. They're currently making a mountain out of a molehill over a news headline. It's commonly referred to as overreacting.

Holidays bring joy. Merry Christmas!

Posted by Roberta Hale, a resident of Palo Alto Hills,
on Dec 14, 2021 at 10:10 am

Roberta Hale is a registered user.

"Holidays bring joy."

^ As noted in a previous post, the holidays can create even more STRESS.

Perhaps better to de-commercialize Christmas and scale down the tiresome hyperbole.

Posted by Ismael Rahib, a resident of another community,
on Dec 14, 2021 at 11:07 am

Ismael Rahib is a registered user.

The celebration of Christmas has become a seasonal holiday for all ethnicities and newly arrived immigrants to the United States.

Its connection to the birth of Christ is somewhat irrelevant as it is now politically incorrect for merchants to display Nativity scenes or to play Silent Night at shopping malls as this further alienates many non-Christians.

Chestnuts Roasting Over an Open Fire and Frosty the Snowman are the new holiday classics and rightfully so.

Besides, Jesus was actually born in the spring and many historians trace the Christmas holiday to ancient pagan rituals.

Posted by Bystander, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Dec 14, 2021 at 11:49 am

Bystander is a registered user.

The discussion about Christmas reminds me about the discussion about mask wearing.

For those who celebrate Christmas they like their traditions and feel that following them makes no cause for offense to those who do not. A nativity scene is not threatening in exactly the same way as a menorah is not threatening or a sign welcoming the new year in the Lunar calendar - year of the _. Why is a snowman more acceptable than a star to celebrate the tradition of Christmas? Why is a rabbit more acceptable than a lamb or a cross to celebrate Easter? The answer has to be that it is not. The real problem is that people want to take offense over something that is not intended to offend. I can celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwaanza, Eid, Lunar New Year, Easter, Passover, and every other traditional festival without causing offense or taking offense if others do not.

As for masks, that is becoming a religion in itself. Mask wearing is now a statement that is becoming political and causing problems in lots of places. Personally I don't have any problem with someone choosing to wear a mask or not. Since it is the done thing to be compliant, I will comply for the present. In the recent rain I wore a mask and had my rain hood over my head, tied under the chin, wearing a mask. I looked and felt like a bank robber. This is not the way we should be expected to go about our business. It is a dangerous precedent and one that we must not continue indefinitely. It has no other purpose than to show compliance. This has to stop.

Posted by Dave Ryder, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland,
on Dec 14, 2021 at 12:39 pm

Dave Ryder is a registered user.

* Why is a snowman more acceptable than a star to celebrate the tradition of Christmas? Why is a rabbit more acceptable than a lamb or a cross to celebrate Easter?

Because a snowman and a rabbit are non-controversial and non-religious imagery.

Nearly everyone can accept a harmless snowman or bunny as holiday symbols.

Which is why Jerry Stiller (who played George Costanza's father on Seinfeld) had the best idea...'Festivus' (for the rest of us) who do not buy into the stress, social obligations, crass commercialism and pseudo-religious symbolism of Christmases PAST.

Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years are too closely situated on the calendar and the stress-inclined need a break from all of this contrived nonsense.

As for masks, the recent CA mandate is strictly targeted towards Orange County, San Diego County, and the Central Valley where a conservative mindset appears to be challenging modern day science as well as common sense.

Residents in the SF Bay Area are not mandated to wear masks as per the December 15th CA ruling.

Posted by Lyle Pfister, a resident of Gemello,
on Dec 14, 2021 at 12:50 pm

Lyle Pfister is a registered user.

Outside of small gatherings, let's just do away with larger Christmas celebrations altogether as the timeframe is not 'the most wonderful time of the year.'

It remains a stressful and lonely time for many.

And Jesus wouldn't want that.

Posted by community member, a resident of University South,
on Dec 14, 2021 at 12:52 pm

community member is a registered user.

>A nativity scene is not threatening in exactly the same way as a menorah is not threatening<
Not the same. The nativity scene reinforces belief in supernatural imaginings. Like a woman giving birth without a man involved. Of course she didn't become pregnant by herself. Makes the story more palatable and re-tellable.

Two young people traveling alone and she becomes pregnant. What a surprise.

Posted by Meredith James, a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive,
on Dec 14, 2021 at 1:31 pm

Meredith James is a registered user.

>> The nativity scene reinforces belief in supernatural imaginings. Like a woman giving birth without a man involved. Of course she didn't become pregnant by herself.

^ Imagine the holiday-related "stress" if one's teenaged daughter became pregnant and explained that while she was dating a young carpenter, she was still a virgin and carrying the future Messiah.

What would/could a modern-day parent do to alleviate this kind of stress?

Posted by Manny Ramos, a resident of Whisman Station,
on Dec 14, 2021 at 1:50 pm

Manny Ramos is a registered user.

Our daughter became pregnant at 16 and ran with a similar explanation, except that the suspected father was a heavy-equipment operator from Bakersfield.

Being devout Catholics, as grandparents we raised her child and she appropriately named him Jesus as well.

Posted by Bystander, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Dec 14, 2021 at 2:12 pm

Bystander is a registered user.

Thanks for proving my point.

Of course a nativity scene or a menorah is a religious symbol, but offensive they are not. If somebody chooses to display them, play Holy Night in a shopping mall or the Hallelujah Chorus at a concert, why should it be seen to be offensive? Religion is not offensive. If we can agree that we can celebrate so many other festivals such as Lunar New Year, Diwali, St. Patrick's Day, St. Valentine's Day, without being offended, then I just don't understand why we can't celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah without those being blasted.

Those who say they are offended, are really showing their own stresses (the point of this blog). Are we really stressing ourselves out unnecessarily? We are supposed to be welcoming, diverse, inclusive, but by stressing out about something that we say causes offense are we not in fact showing unwelcome, undiverse and uninclusive tendencies?

Let each to their own traditions and celebrations. Let us each learn from each other's celebrations. Let us all learn to live together and let live together. Merry Christmas one and all and may we all learn from Ebenezer Scrooge.

Posted by Byron Logan, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis,
on Dec 15, 2021 at 7:24 am

Byron Logan is a registered user.

To avoid any perceived cultural stress during the holiday season, perhaps merchants could combine the key visual and sonic elements of the various ethnic religions and create a hybrid symbolism of sorts.

Picture a Santa Claus with multiple arms for gift-giving, a manger scene comprised of generic characters & guests from both the Middle East and Orient, traditional western Christmas songs adapted to the one-interval Persian musical scale, with lavish candelabras reminiscent of Liberace.

This fusion of holiday cultures might help bring about the unity that this country is so desperately in need of, at least for a few weeks.

Posted by Judith Petrie, a resident of Community Center,
on Dec 15, 2021 at 10:05 am

Judith Petrie is a registered user.

++"The nativity scene reinforces belief in supernatural imaginings. Like a woman giving birth without a man involved. Of course she didn't become pregnant by herself."

Speaking of possible stress, how did Joseph handle this peculiar situation?

And if it was merely a supernatural imagining or a possible reality, was alien intervention involved?

Posted by Mike Larson, a resident of Blossom Valley,
on Dec 15, 2021 at 12:12 pm

Mike Larson is a registered user.

Those of us who read Mad Magazine as children and adolescents will fondly remember the publication's timeless icon Alfred E. Neuman along with his classic quote, "What, me worry?"

The same vision can be applied to our adult lives as stress and worry are counterproductive to both our mental and physical health.

I have filed for bankruptcy three times and was married/divorced twice.

Oh well, life goes on so why get bent over many of life's trivial detours?

And while some may turn to prayer or meditation to conceal the realities, it is oftentimes more therapeutic just to walk away as there are many things in life that we have absolutely no control over.

The holidays often create inner turmoil among those who are incapable of handling self-imposed stress in a productive or countermeasure manner.

The restrictive chains we create are of our own making and only the foolhardy or ignorant continue to imprison themselves.

Just say sayonara to your personal prison guards.

Posted by Judy Lange, a resident of Old Palo Alto,
on Dec 15, 2021 at 12:39 pm

Judy Lange is a registered user.

Ms. Diamond said it best with her opening title "Man-up about stressing-out".

Stress often emanates from a personal lack of self-confidence and an inability to weather the various storms in our life.

Only self-professed victims and excuse-laden losers succumb to the obstacles and setbacks of everyday life.

Millennial whiners take note!

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