Preview of Your Coming Attractions

When I retired after 40 years of writing columns for the San Jose Mercury News, I figured I'd said about all I could say. Wrong. I've realized that at age 76, I'm about 10 years older than the oldest baby boomers, who are now turning 66. My very average body has had a lot of experiences in those 10 years. I've learned a lot that could be helpful to people just starting on that same path -- what to do, what to avoid, what to keep an eye on.. Consider me your canary-in-the-coalmine for the boomer generation. Tune in regularly for the heads-up advice.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Stressed (and) Out

     I’ve written before about the dangers of stress, but I don’t think that we’ve had a more graphic example of what I was talking about recently than the last days of Joe Paterno.
     Yes, the former Penn State football coach was old. He was 85, and since that’s about 10 years older than me, I consider that definitely old.
     Yes, he had cancer – lung cancer – which is a particularly bad malady.
     Yes, the combination of the two can kill a person. A lot of people have died of similar circumstances.
     But Paterno was both old and suffering from cancer before his world blew up in the controversy over sex abuse charges against one of his assistant coaches. Paterno hadn’t been the healthiest guy in Pennsylvania before the scandal. When it erupted, though, the stress of the situation clearly accelerated his demise. A guy going downhill suddenly got a big shove. The result was a faster than expected trip out of this world.
     Now, I’m not saying that there’s much Paterno could have done to ease the stress of the situation. A completely clear conscience would have helped, but that admittedly wasn’t the case.
     As we go through life, though, we need to recognize the toll that stress can take. It can exacerbate whatever else we have going on. It makes average things bad. It makes bad things worse.
     So do what you can while you can to ease the stress in your life, whether it be yoga or meditation or exercise or doing good works.
     Just recognizing that you may be stressed is a good start.

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