Stress is defined as “a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances.”

For the next month, The Gentle Traveler will be diving into the stressful topic of STRESS, exploring it from all angles and offering tips and resources for how to loosen its control over your life.

Gee, that sounds like a real drag, you might say. Why would I want to read about something like that? Just thinking about the topic of stress is stressing me out!

True, the topic of stress could be a real buzz-kill. Learning about it, however, can be empowering. It is also the MOST IMPORTANT health concern today. By understanding it scientifically, emotionally and culturally, we can realize that (yes!) we CAN get a handle on it, no matter what is going on in our life. We DO have a choice to NOT let stress run our lives!

A Modern Epidemic of STRESSwork stress

Let’s face it, in our modern world, we are feeling stressed out pretty much all of the time. And boy is it taking its toll on us individually and as communities (especially if you live in the United States).

According to the American Institute of Stress, 44 % of Americans feel more stressed out than they did 5 years ago. Also according to that organization, 1 in 5 people in the United States say they often feel “extreme stress,” defined by such symptoms as heart palpitations, shaking and depression. Work-related stress causes 10% of all strokes and stress is directly correlated to higher incidents of cancer, heart disease and heart attack.

Looking these statistics, it is not surprising that 1 in 4 doctor’s visits are for stress-related causes.

Research has also linked extreme and prolonged stress to shrinkage in grey matter, i.e. stress actually makes your brain smaller and YOU less smart and productive. Tell that to your boss the next time he is stressing you out!

And yet, in the United States, unlike in countries such as Spain, France and England, there is still no legal requirement for workers to take vacation days. In fact, Americans take less than three weeks off from work a year (including national holidays and not including weekends) compared to France’s seven weeks per working individual.

All of the above is why taking time for a retreat─ i.e. a pre-planning, purpose-driven period of time in which you unplug, rest, rejuvenate, refocus and recharge─ should rank right up there with eating right, exercising and taking your daily vitamins.

Retreat Time: It’s Preventative Medicine

teacher stressDon’t wait until you have a major illness to start thinking about self-care (that includes spiritual and creative self-care too).

Believe me, if you let stress go on too long, illness in some form WILL be the result.

How do I know this? Because it happened to me. I had to pay the price at a fairly young age for not taking the time to take care of myself.

In the late nineties, I was a stressed-out school teacher. I worked 60 hours per week, was taking care of my grandmother who was in the last stages of lung cancer, and was driving four hours a day back and forth to work. On weekends, I was prepping and planning for the school week. When I wasn’t working, I was taking care of my grandmother. Did I mention I had also just gotten engaged? So then there was the wedding to get ready for and a family of my own to start…

Go on a retreat? Are you out of your mind? Who has the time? I can hear my former self say.

Then in 2000, at the age of 29, I was diagnosed with the autoimmune condition, Scleroderma. I had been battling stress-related illnesses that entire school year: infections, bronchitis, flu symptoms and just general fatigue that would not go away no matter what I tried. By the time I sat in the rheumatologist’s office listening to the diagnosis, I had used up all of my sick leave.

No one officially knows the cause of autoimmune conditions, but I am absolutely sure that, in my case, one of the main culprits can be summed up by one word: STRESS

It’s Up to You

No one is going to hand you the time you need to care for yourself on a silver platter. It is up to YOU to make it a priority, schedule the time, and DO IT before stress takes its toll on you in the form of disease.

Why do you need to take some time for a personal retreat?


A retreat can be the perfect way to “slow down” and get in the groove of peace and tranquility for your workweek. Taking a retreat at the beginning of the year is a great place to start!

Are you ready to get a handle on stress? If so, great! Check back to this blog often or go to The Gentle Traveler stress-freeFacebook Page during the month of January for daily information, inspirations, tips and posts on how YOU can tame the tiger of stress in your life and invite a peaceful and super-productive 2016.

Better yet, sign up on your mailing list to get all the latest blog posts delivered right to your inbox. If you sign up now at, I will send you a FREE 30-page eBook outlining how you can plan and go on the perfect retreat  in JUST 3 EASY STEPS no matter how much money or time you have!


Note: If you sign up before January 15, please allow 1 week for email delivery of this brand new product offered by The Gentle Traveler FREE to you.