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Now that I have your attention, the definition of hyperarousal may not be what you think. It refers to the acute stress response in the face of anything threatening. Imagine fight or flight on steroids. Most of us don’t have to deal with this kind of stress, but every one of us will at some point in our lives encounter the day-to-day variety.


When you find yourself in times of trouble,

do you flee, throw back a chablis, or let it be?


Stress has no plans for moving on, so we might as well learn to deal with it. People, real and fictional, naturally turn to coping mechanisms—cigarettes, alcohol, drugs, sex, self-mutilation, food—to name a few of the not so healthy ones. Gossiping with friends, doodling in coloring books, and weekend long Netflix binges, on the tamer side.

During times of extreme stress, one character in my first novel, Chasing Symmetry, drinks, one paces, another flies into a cleaning frenzy. Yet another organizes his cigar band collection. And one . . . gulp . . . kills.

For me, the occasional martini takes the edge off, but writing is my favorite drug of choice. No hangovers the next day, and no one really gets hurt.

Except a few characters.

What’s your story? Any words of wisdom when it comes to thumbing your nose at stress?


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