The best way to deal with stress is to treat it like a vacation: Start planning for it.

That is the advice of Dr. Claire Michaels Wheeler, the author of the new book, '10 Simple Solutions to Stress: How to Tame Tension and Start Enjoying Your Life.'

Wheeler will have a discussion, question and answer period and a book signing on Jan. 16 from 7 to 8 p.m. at the Beaverton Borders, 2605 S.W. Cedar Hills Blvd.

Typically, she said, people underestimate the power of stress until it affects basic human functions such as sleep, memory, eating and sex or leads to chronic conditions such as autoimmune disorders, coronary heart disease and depression.

'The trick is to really get a little creative and deliberate in how we approach stress and look at what's worked for people medically,' Wheeler said.

For her part, Dr. Wheeler, 47, isn't exactly a model of stress-free living. She's seen death up close in the E.R., been through a divorce and experienced the fallout of cancer in her immediate family. She runs a private medical-consulting practice, speaks nationally and works as a professor.

'I have my bad days just like anyone else,' Dr. Wheeler said. 'But it's all about doing what inspires you and has meaning for you - even if it's not always fun - and knowing that it will really make you a better, healthier person.

'Stress management is a process, not a reaction, that's very much tied to lifestyle choices. Honestly, you can't start reducing stress until you start living life.'

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