Ways to Avoid Stress

The experts say one way to manage stress is to avoid those situations which cause stress. Well, I can name two ways for me to avoid stress.

1. Don’t write a book
2. Don’t submit the book to an agent or editor

I remember back when I started writing and sent my manuscript off in the mail, always including—as we were instructed—an SASE. For a few weeks after the manuscript went out I was relatively relaxed. The guidelines listed in the Writer’s Market said to expect a six week to three month delay before hearing anything back. But once the calendar showed we were nearing that six week time period, the stress began.

My mail lady usually came around two o’clock (except on Monday’s when she’d be later). Around noon the tension began. A tightening of my stomach muscles. An inability to concentrate. A desire to look out the window toward the mailbox. Maybe a lightheaded feeling. An increase in my heart rate.

By two o’clock I couldn’t focus on anything, kept glancing out the window toward the mailbox, felt like I was going to be sick.


And then the car would pull up to the mailbox, I’d watch my mail lady reach out the open window (even when it was close to zero out), open the door to the mailbox, and slip in our mail for the day.

If I saw an manila envelope being shoved into the box, I knew my worst fears had come true. REJECTION.

If there was no manila envelope, I was good for another day…or until noon the next day.

Nowadays we send our manuscripts out via email attachments, and most of the time we receive a thumbs up or down via email. Which means, of course, every time I go on-line, the stress begins. I quickly glance over the new emails, looking for a certain address or subject line. If it’s not there, I check my spam folder. Not there, I try to relax and read the emails I did receive.

Stress isn’t good. I’m sure it’s why I take pills to keep my blood pressure normal, and I’m sure it’s one reason I’ve gained so much weight since I started writing. And for me, at this stage of my life, it’s really silly to get stressed out over a story I’ve written. It’s not like I have to depend on selling the book to survive. Nevertheless, I do care about the stories I create. The characters become real, and I want to share their stories with others. So here are some proven ways to relieve stress.

1. Take a walk or a run. (Not so easy for anyone up north right now with snow up to your elbows, so it might be time to try snowshoes or cross country skiing.)

2. Do yoga or participate in an exercise class. (I have found this helpful. There are different levels and every instructor I’ve ever had says to listen to your body. We can’t all twist ourselves around like pretzels.)

3. Get plenty of sleep. (Which is easier said than done, especially if you have a story idea running around in your head.)

4. Eat a healthy diet. (A little chocolate is okay, but not that box of chocolates sitting next to your computer.)

5. Get the support of others. (And that’s why belonging to a writers’ group is so beneficial and necessary.)

Here’s wishing you have a stress free week.

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11 Responses to Ways to Avoid Stress

  1. Oh, yes…When I have a book out on submission, every new email gets my heart racing! As for reducing stress, yoga is great for that–and I certainly can’t twist myself up like a pretzel. But it’s not about that so much as the relaxation, the breathing and being in the moment, right? That’s the part that reduces stress! Great post, Maris!

  2. Diane Burton says:

    One thing that always relieves stress for me is watching a romantic comedy or action adventure movie. Nothing complicated. Just sit back and enjoy a couple of hours of entertainment.

    • Maris Soule says:

      That’s a great idea, Diane. Even watching Funniest Videos helps. Either I’m laughing so hard I forget everything, or I’m glad I wasn’t the one to take the fall, be hit by the ball, or all the other terrible things people video.

  3. Lucy Kubash says:

    Writing is certainly a big source of stress, although the weather here has taken first place lately. I haven’t done much submitting this past year, focusing on self-publishing for now. But even that has its stresses. Walking my dogs is usually a good stress reliever, but we’ve not been able to do even that much this month. So then I turn to reading, except then I feel guilty because I’m not writing. So we feel stressed if we write or if we don’t. D**ned if you do and d**mned if you don’t, I guess. But the sun is out today so that’s some relief.

  4. Melissa Keir says:

    I like to jump onto Solitaire and play a quick game to keep my mind off the stress. It’s either that or go crazy stalking the inbox!

  5. Spider solitaire for me. The best stress reliever when a manuscript is out there looking for a home is to get going on the next one! Lucy’s right about the sunshine. Looking good!

    • Maris Soule says:

      I’ve never tried Spider solitaire. I figure I waste enough time with Free Cell. Glad you’re seeing some sunshine. It’s rained all day here and more expected tomorrow.

  6. Lana Miersen says:

    Helpful post, Maris. Thanks! Unfortunately, part of #4 won’t work to relieve my stress. Here’s why: I have ADHD (Inattentive Type) and I’m married to Mr. Neat and Efficient. Ear plugs and lots of chocolate are my stress relievers.

    • Maris Soule says:

      Guess you just have to go with whatever works, Lana. Ear plugs and chocolate don’t sound like a bad solution. Red wine helps me. Red wine with chocolate is even better.