Rubbing out vacation stress

Elise T. Chisolm

September 01, 1992|By Elise T. Chisolm

Stress on vacation? Yeah, it's possible, don't laugh.

It's a fact that some people on vacation take their personal baggage with them. And I'm not talking Samsonite; I'm talking worries, cares and anxieties.

How do I know? For years at the beach I've been listening to families on the beach blankets close to mine. Often, the first day at the beach the kids fight and are demanding -- they've been in the car too long. And the parents are over-anxious about the activities for the week. The father can't remember whether he brought his golf glove and his brief case and the mother can't remember if she brought the baby's heat rash prescription and her curling rod.

People look forward all year long to their week or two at the beach, but when they arrive it takes time -- sometimes lots of time -- to unwind.

When we got to the beach recently for our week, my back hurt like heck; I guess from the long ride, packing and lifting luggage. This is a vacation?

How ironic that we are looking for stress relief on vacation.

The first day at Bethany Beach in Delaware, I was driving down the coastal highway and saw a sign for the Stress Management Center.

I stopped and went in. Business was booming, but I managed to get an appointment for a therapeutic massage.

This was no tacky massage parlor. There was a nice atmosphere of a professional clinic with certificates and diplomas on the wall.

Very legit.

An hour later I came out -- my back pain was gone and I was so relaxed I could hardly drive back to the rented beach house.

Pat Gosselin is a licensed massage therapist at Stress Management Center. Anne Connor owns the business. They are open all year. All staff members are certified by the American Massage Therapy Association.

Great, I had found a place for a dummy like me who needs time to adjust to vacation.

Pat suggests that sometimes it's the actual cost of the vacation that stresses people, or they try to jam two weeks' worth of activities into one week. At Stress Management, they try to heal the hurts, and help people learn to help themselves.

"We see weekend tennis players, golfers, boaters who have sustained neck, back or knee injuries. We do a lot of deep muscle massage. We also teach nutrition and diet," she says.

"Massage therapy is the systematic movement of soft tissue to create healing," the therapist explains.

The morning I was there a lawyer, a doctor and a construction worker were in for treatment.

Pat, originally from Baltimore, works at the resort through the summer season and in the winter works out of her home in Ellicott city.

"I, myself," she says, "have had terrible stress. I had a mastectomy in 1971. My self-esteem was very bad. Then I had breast reconstruction in 1978. After all that, I decided to volunteer for the Howard County chapter of the American Cancer Society. One of my jobs was to answer calls from women who needed to know more, and I've been in the health field ever since.

"Because I am so grateful that I am alive and well, I now want to help others stay well, too," she says.

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