Ironing Out Your Stress

In times of stress, it’s not unusual for folks to reach for a glass of wine or perhaps a box of Oreo cookies with a side of Dairy Queen. Some people resort to nicotine while others take a more healthy approach and walk off the stress of the day. Local gyms are full of people slam-dunking their cares away.

I take an altogether different approach to a crummy day. When my mind is racing and I can’t cope, I head home and reach for my Rowenta or maybe the Shark. For the non-pressing public, let me educate you. Both of those names represent steam irons.

Yes, I’m talking about ironing. It may sound absurd to those who absolutely refuse to take an iron to hand and press their clothing, but ironing is my remedy, albeit brief, for relieving that which bothers me.

There is something therapeutic about forcing the wrinkles out of a cotton blouse and jeans. I’m sure there are psychologists out there right now who are chuckling. There’s probably an entire chapter in their psych books that deals with people who iron. Surely there are deep-seated reasons for wanting to literally press the wrinkles out of life.

This week, I did a lot of ironing. Some of it was for good reason — church linens needed pressing. I even tackled some flannel shirts for the hubby. And there is something so nice about laying your head on a freshly ironed pillow case. Don’t hate me.

I heard that Oprah Winfrey has staff who change her bed sheets every day. Now that’s a bit much even for this wrinkle-free junkie.

Little children are better at handling stress than adults. It may not sound like it but kids follow their instincts. While it might mean a total meltdown, kids know how to cry it out. When they get to the place of no return in their stress, they just let it go in buckets of tears. It’s hard to see and hear, but it’s the only outlet they know.

I don’t recommend adults engage in tantrums but anger and hurt will pop a cork if it’s not released. Crying real tears is our body’s way of draining stress. Women always have tissues in their purses and now you know why. We are prepared to cry. We do cry — at a lot of things. We even cry when we’re happy. We cry at weddings and funerals. It’s just in our DNA. More men should carry handkerchiefs and use them. Everyone needs to find his or her happy place. There are just times when you have to tune out what bugs you and listen to the silence. It’s not easy to put down the cellphone, turn away from the computer or walk away from the annoyances at hand. Yet it’s often what we need most to realize a sense of calm. I heard there is even an app you can download on your phone that takes you to a better, restful place. But I know a good book can do the same for me.

The irons are cold tonight. I’m in a good place in my head. I hope you are, too.

Heather Ziegler can be reached via email at hziegler@theintelligencer.net.

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