Stressed? Take a leaf from the Dolomites

Every day the media are all full of articles about how we suffer from work stress and that the golden age of retirement will solve our problems when we can all push off to the golf course or to some golden sandy beach and enjoy the last remaining years of our life with sparkling happiness.

Playing golf and sitting on a deck chair facing the sea in Spain or in Florida is about the most boring exercise imaginable. You only have to look at golf-playing presidential candidates to see why…

It is amazing and quite depressing that people want to retire from work when they are fit and able to continue working. 

Naturally, some people are not able to work – they are not included here because their bodies may be worn out from harsh work, from physical or mental afflictions, or from systematic self abuse (drugs, alcohol, etc).

Here in the Dolomite mountains you can see many great examples of common folk who keep on working well passed the age of 70.

There is one small traditional restaurant in one of the nearby villages owned and run by a 75-year old lady. There are 2 cooks in the kitchen and seating for 30 guests. She runs the dining room most of the time alone, and on busy night she will have 1 helper.

Her performance is wonderful with a lively discussion with guests in 3 languages – taking orders for food and drinks with a small WiFi tablet that informs the kitchen to get the next dishes ready. She chats with everyone, including the small children. She is dressed in a flowery Italian mountain tradition garb and leather shoes. Her glasses are perched on her nose or hanging by a string around her neck. She dives between the dining room and kitchen with delicious meals and empty dishes. Drinks come with the same speed – and, of course, at 75 years with a full restaurant, she does not remember everything. But who cares – she just laughs it off and rushes out to retrieve the missing dish or drink!

For her, it is six days a week, lunches and dinner, with one “Rest Day” on Thursdays.

The whole area is full of these older folk who can hold their own at any demanding job. Another 2 couples in their 80’s help their sons and daughters running the poshest hotel in the same village, where 3 generations “hold the fort” with warm smiles to welcome and care for guests. 

In the small hotel where you correspondent is staying, the father of the waitress still cares for the family farm at 87 years old. His forest, fields and cows still receive the same care and maintenance, albeit with bigger and more powerful machines and other farm equipment, but his work is 24/7…

Our neighbour is just washing her balcony with a hard brush – she has stopped working on the farm, but at 94 years of age, she still waves to us each morning before going out for a 3-hour walk along the steep path around the village.

There is no easy route to relieving work stress is the hardest thing to fight successfully, but thinking about what you could be doing now, today, rather than in 10 or 20 years, will probably start to solve these 2 issues…  Doing more exercise, picking up a book, learning a new skill or language or just doing something new are good ways to start…

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