Article Charleston Daily Mail

Woman pulls tips from ‘stress toolbox' to teach control

Monica Orosz

Daily Mail features editor

Monday November 05, 2007

Aila Accad is the first to say she wasn't always the picture of calm she presents today.

The Kanawha County resident was 39, a wife and mother of two, and a registered nurse.

And she had taken on too much. She was the very example of what she often helped people conquer -- things in their lives that made them unhealthy.

"There was a day and I could tell you the exact date if I went back and looked it up, but it was October. I was sitting on the sofa. My children were pre-teens. I had my business and my husband.

"And I pulled a cover over my head because I had said yes to so many things that there was no way to get it all done. I just wanted to disappear and start all over again."

Accad said she realized no one was going to rescue her from her situation, so she gave herself a talking to, so to speak. "I realized my daughter would love to cook. I realized my son could do the laundry and my husband could go to the grocery store."

In fact, her husband liked grocery shopping. "He was an engineer and he made a science out of it," she said.

"It never occurred to me before to let go of things." As she evaluated her life and her stress -- particularly heading into the holiday season that year, Accad said she also realized there were some things that wouldn't get done if she didn't do them.

"So I had to ask myself, ‘Why am I doing that?' " "A lot of the things I would do were from my mother's to-do list or my father's to-do list," said Accad, who just turned 60.

Accad's children are long grown now and she has taken the skills she learned about dealing with stress in her own life into topics for seminars and programs she leads around the state with her business, LifeQuest International.

On Saturday, she'll lead a free workshop, "De-Stressing Your Life," in Charleston.

The timing is perfect as people head into the holidays -- a hot-button time for stress.

"Holidays are a good example because holidays have a lot of those ‘shoulds' attached to them," she said. "You feel like you should mail out cards. You have to bake, but maybe you don't bake at all in the rest of your life. So why?"

"It's all about personal choice," she said. "Stress tends to be tied tightly to a loss of control."

Her workshop will include her "toolbox" for alleviating stress, tips and techniques to gain control or think about new ways to react when you can't control a situation.

"I'm real practical about what you can and what you can't do," she said.

You can't change how someone else behaves.

"But you can control your own thinking and your reactions. And you can learn why this particular person is triggering your stress."

The workshop has applications at home and in the workplace, she said. And participants, through making lists of their stresses, will learn the similarities between them and the things that trigger stress. And then she'll offer some way to cope.

"I have lots of different tools in what I call my stress toolbox," she said. "Different tools may be attractive to different people."

Contact writer Monica Orosz at or 348-4830.

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