Sharon Koehler

Artistic Stone Design

Meet Mariah, my stress relief therapist.

Meet Mariah, my stress relief therapist.

I have two gasoline powered motor vehicles. One is a blue Jeep Wrangler Sport, two-door soft-top. The other is a blue, two-door Ford Mustang convertible. 

My two-door Ford Mustang convertible is the closest thing to machine perfection I have ever run across. Once started, you can barely tell it’s running. It’s quiet and still. When you push the gas pedal, even a little, it makes a deep rumbling sound that makes me smile. This car literally glides down the road by itself. When I want to change lanes, I swear all I have to do is think about it, and bam! the car is in the other lane. 

The sound system is second-to-none and I play it loud (a lot), especially with the top down. I have had the car airborne twice. I drag- raced a Jaguar once (I lost) and I have had the car over 100 mph on more than one occasion (ssshhh, don’t call the cops). Through all this, the car has never faltered. It has been steady and true. If a person could love an inanimate object, I would love this car. 

Some days I drive it to work, but ESPECIALLY on Mondays. Mondays seem to be the most stressful day of the week for me, as I believe they are for a lot of people. Everything on Monday seems to be frenzied and urgent. All the frenzied urgency seems to lead to a great amount of stress. And stress is the reason I love to drive that car. 

After a stressful day I slide into the leather seats, turn the music up, put the top down and drive. The stress just fades away with every mile. If it’s been a REALLY bad day, I may drive down by the river and put it through the “S” curves. That car hugs the line like no other. By the time I get home, I am fine. My stress is gone and all is right with the world. 

This is how I deal with stress. It’s not for everyone. You may play with your dogs, go for a walk, practice yoga, read a book, take a hot bath, drink a beer or a glass of wine, go to the gym, cuddle with a loved one, or one of the million other ways there are to relieve stress. No matter how you do it, just make sure you do it.

Why is it so important to relieve your stress?

Among other things, stress has very harmful effects on your ability to get a good night’s sleep.

So What?

Lack of sleep or poor sleep can lead to a host of mental and physical issues that can affect all parts of your personal and work life.

Everyone suffers from a poor night’s sleep occasionally. One night here or there won’t hurt too badly, but with today’s fast-paced world and all the gadgets we have to keep us up and engaged, more and more people are suffering from a lack of sleep.  

The CDC recently reported that over 1/3 of the population of the United States does not get enough sleep, and this has now become a public health problem. Granted, sometimes sleep troubles have medical (physical) causes, but stress has been identified as a major contributing factor to poor sleep. 

Prolonged poor sleep can affect you physically. People who routinely don’t get enough sleep gain weight easier. Other physical effects are a higher risk for heart attack, kidney disease, stroke, diabetes and high blood pressure. None of these are good things. Also, for all you fellow women out there, lack of sleep ages your skin, increases fine lines and wrinkles and contributes to the dark, puffy under-eye bags. Another physical effect can be tinnitus (ringing in the ear). Trust me, if you have never experienced that, you don’t want to, and if you have, then you know you don’t want to aggravate it. 

Lack of sleep can also slow your reflexes down to equal that of drunk driving. Here’s the important part: slowed reflexes put yourself, coworkers and others at higher risk of accidents. 

However, a lack of sleep can and most often does also affect you mentally. Lack of sleep can interfere with the normal thought process of your brain. This can lead to issues with concentration, problem solving, learning and memory. Forgetfulness increases as sleep decreases. Symptoms of depression can be intensified also. 

Lack of sleep also affects your mood. Want to be in a good mood? Sleep helps. We have all run into the grumpy coworker who said their grumpiness or bad mood was due to lack of sleep or a bad night’s sleep. So go meditate, practice yoga, talk a walk, commune with nature, laugh with a friend or whatever else it is that you need to do to relax and get a good night’s sleep. Your body will thank you and so will your friends, family and coworkers. 

 Please send your thoughts on this article to Sharon Koehler at