“Stress is a Killer: Here’s how to avoid it !”

December 17, 2008

Stress is a Killer: Here’s how to avoid it.

I just returned from the USA a few weeks ago for my more or less once a year visit to see family and friends and almost everyone I spoke to there are worried… and there’s a lot to be worried about..

The financial system is in chaos as all the news channels tell us.

This is on top of an ever larger government debt from two debt-financed wars, a debt-financed tax cut, and a debt-financed bailout that required a debt-financed package of incentives to get it through Congress.

Who know what’s in store for the USA…   The stock market is not doing so well either due to the uncertainty.

It’s reported that a staggering 700,000 people over the age of 50 are seriously behind in mortgage payments or are in the process of foreclosure on their homes.

Inflation–calculated the way it was figured back in 1980–is running at 12%. That’s 24% higher than the record-setting average of the Carter administration of that era.

Americans are now spending more money on necessities and less on the things to add quality to their lives.

Retirement funds are dwindling so many are putting retirement on hold.

Chapapa Area Nov 07 027

Homeland Security so far has held but the nightly news reminds us from time to time via videos from Osama bin Laden, that he’s alive and apparently well, even if he’s hiding for the moment in a cave somewhere.

So, a lot of people in the USA are under a lot of stress. Probably even greater than during the cold war years and as much as when the Russians put missiles in Cuba.

Am I concerned as an American. Well honestly yes. I love my home country. But stressed out… NO, not really. Why?

I guess because I no longer live in the USA.  You might say I’m just an interested observer.

I live at Lake Chapala Mexico and don’t fear the  assaults and stresses of the American too fast lifestyle with all of the  financial, social, and political stress of what’s going to happen to me.

It’s not because I don’t care. It’s because I am immersed in a new culture and lifestyle…one not dominated by wild financial markets, or terrorism…in a culture  that while in general not monetarily rich, is rich in so many other ways and takes life as it comes at them in good spirit without much complaint.

You often hear about the low prices here at Lake Chapala – Ajijic Mexico and yes, you can live here for substantially less than almost anywhere else in the world given the modern amenities the area offers (not a third world backwater area at all); but another very important consideration that is overlooked in the glossy color brochures about the good life here is the intangible benefit of retiring outside of the USA to the tranquility we enjoy because Mexico is not in the news everywhere in the world every day as the USA is.

Escaping from the financial crisis is an obvious advantage of living abroad, in a country with a low cost of living and low inflation.

You can watch the crisis from afar, knowing that you can “wait it out” and the effect on you here will be substantially less.

But the lack of stress is much less obvious, and, in fact, it took me a while to fully appreciate it.

When I moved full time to the Lake Chapala Ajijic area of Mexico almost 7 years ago the USA was not in the fix it is today.

I was teaching English in Guadalajara when my class was interrupted to tell us of an airplane that had flown into the World Trade Center in New York.

That news,while a bit unsettling did not have it’s full impact on me until hours later when what I thought was a small plane pilot having mechanical trouble turned into a full blown planned terrorist attack.

As a former police officer in Dallas for 35 years my heart went out first to the men and women in the uniformed services in New York and at the sites of the other attacks knowing something of what they were up against having been in situations where good, but excited people were terrified and not far short of being a mob where I was one of the few people trying to maintain order and stay calm.

The police and fire officers did a great job, but honestly I was glad I was teaching a class in English in Guadalajara instead of living in the USA.

Here at Lake Chapala Ajijic the War on Terror is for others, since my adopted country has been neither aggressors nor the targets of aggression.

Yes, I know you hear about the drug cartels and the associated violence, but even this is along the border with the USA far away and is a battle for dominance to sell illegal drugs to the USA which has created the market.

As much as I love my country of birth I can say that at the moment I’m happy not to live there.

Hacienda home

That doesn’t mean that I’ve “Gone Native” so to speak. No, as much as I love the Mexican culture I still very much enjoy the companionship of many new friends who have escaped from the USA’s problems and the uncertainty there… as well as other new friends from almost every other corner of the planet as well.

I now have the time (and the means) to enjoy a rich, active lifestyle to the fullest. Yes, of course I work here, but honestly I don’t have to. I do so because I want to. Big Difference.

I enjoy writing the articles and managing ChapalaClub.com, meeting interesting people from all over the world and sharing my life here with them.

Many of them have chosen to join me here. They now have the time to enjoy a rich full life and to pursue the things they just did not have time for before.


One client friend took golf back up and plays 4 or 5 times a week. When I first met him his complexion was normal for a North American from the East Coast. Now, he sports a rich full tan from days on the links.

Another client friend and his wife now have time to write. She writes poetry and has had two books published since moving here. He has just finished the first draft of the his first novel.

Another client friend just could not let real estate go. As a former agent in California she now is a friendly competitor here at Lake Chapala Ajijic.

You get the idea. You get to do what you want to do when you want to do it (even if it’s outside activities like gardening, tennis, swimming, horse back riding etc. given the wonderful spring time climate all year long).

Some take a more relaxed laid back approach to retirement and enjoy things like walking the dog, volunteering or just lingering over morning coffee, or dining out with friends at one of the many wonderful great restaurants here.

Some enjoy the shows, concerts, and little theatre here. Others find time to travel or volunteer at one or more of the many charitable organizations here which pays big returns in the wonderful feelings of having made a real difference in the lives of others that are so very grateful.


Chapala 745 Jan 6 3 Kings Day 002

So, there you have my prescription for a stress free life.

It reminds me of a very old vaudeville joke.

One comic says to the other, “I broke my arm in two places.” The other comic says, “Stay out of those places!” 

And permit me one more: The first comic (the straight man) says, “Doctor, it hurts when I do that!”, The Doctor comic says, “Well, don’t do that!”

So, why not take my prescription:  “Stay… Get out of those places… that are bringing you stress. Stop doing things that bring you pain. “Well, don’t do that!”

Leave the financial, political, and social stress behind, and focus on what really counts: the quality of your life.

That quality of life is something we focus on here at Lake Chapala Ajijic Mexico every day.

The pages on this website can help guide your way… and I look forward to sharing my experiences with you in person with a free tour and seminar all about living here at Lake Chapala Ajijic, Mexico.

Chapala Jan 08 Christmas Scenes too 015

You can do it. I can help !

  • Jim DeWitt

    Hi Sid,

    Shouting politics during the Christmas season?!? On Chapala Club?!? I think you out to step back from CNN and take a breather Sid – don’t bring politics into Chapala Club or I’ll have to leave.

    Violence is NOT just on the border and much has actually moved out of the border, at least in Texas. The border towns are practically ghost towns and old stand by haunts that were around for 60 years are now boarded up. I’m not in a position to blame anyone – that’s not up to me.

    I hear alot about corruption in Mexico. Corruption at the highest levels of the military and police forces. Why won’t this trickle down to Axixic? Perhaps it’s not there now… but who knows about tomorrow? Or the day after? Acapulco killings have been in the news and my family’s been going there since the ’50′s! How safe am I in Mexico when the people sworn to protect me are corrupt?

    Please keep Chapala Club non-political. Don’t rag on our economy – some of us are doing well. Some of us are doing the best we can. Some of us are staying to make this a better place and not bailing out. Life is Good – sure it could be better; it always can – but it can also be a whole lot worse. I count my blessings several times a day: my family, my health, my positive attitude even when things may be better. They’re just fine. “If you can do something about it, there is no need to worry. If you cannot do anything about it, there is no use in worrying.” – J. White.

    Thanks for listening.

  • http://www.chapalaclub.com Sid Grosvenor

    Hi Jim, Thanks for your take on the article. I agree with you that politics has no place on this website.

    I think the article pretty much just stated the obvious.

    But, I agree we should not harp on bad news in either the USA or Mexico. But, the opinions I shared about feeling less stress here was the main point I was trying to make.

    Thanks again for your comments, Sid

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