Our View: Coping with the stress of a new year

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Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines. After the relative calm of summer in the D.C. region, life in the fast lane is about to resume.

We all know what that means. Commuting to our places of employment will take longer with everyone back in town. And who knows what the Metro repair work will do to our non-summer sojourns to work and school.

Offices that relax procedures during the summer likely will lose their chill vibe as the leaves start to turn. Calendars fill up with work, school, sports and social obligations. Many of us wind up feeling like the proverbial hamster on the wheel — always running and never quite getting to our destination.

To a certain extent, this is the price we pay for living in a busy metropolitan area that is the hub of our nation’s political operation. The seemingly endless bustle is the tradeoff for all that our region has to offer in the way of cultural, educational and recreational opportunities.

We can know this in our heads but nonetheless feel that anxious pit in our stomachs. So what are we to do?

Unless we decide to take extreme action and move away, the best way to deal with our hectic D.C. lifestyle is probably just to embrace it, with some caveats. We have a few suggestions for making life in our busy region less overwhelming, but would love to hear from readers as well: How do you handle the stress once fall activities start?

First, try to continue the healthy patterns that seem to be easier in the summer. Keep making time for exercise and healthier eating. If you don’t have time for that 90-minute bike ride several times a week, try a yoga class once a week and do a few poses each morning before launching into your day.

Second, if you come from a faith tradition, make time for it. While that may sound counterintuitive since we’re talking about already busy schedules, the hour you spend in a house of worship can help clear your mind and recharge you with positive energy.

Many churches, mosques and synagogues have smaller, quieter services that can be especially peaceful in addition to their main weekly offerings. And if that’s not your thing, try carving out 10 minutes each day to meditate.

Also, try to take advantage of the wonderful epicurean offerings in Alexandria. If you’ve been away much of the summer, you may not know that several new restaurants have joined an already vibrant culinary scene. Check out Vola’s on the waterfront in Old Town, Junction Bakery and Bistro on Mount Vernon Avenue or Live Oak at the former site of Monroe’s on Commonwealth Avenue.

In many ways, Labor Day is more of a time to push the reset button than New Year’s Day. The start of September roughly coincides with new school and fiscal years, while January 1 comes several months in.

So, welcome back and get ready to roll. We hope you have a great year.

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