Will the only person on this planet who is living without stress, please raise your hand.
Stress: “A state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances.” Stress can be good (eustress) or bad (distress).
Because of our present time and place, we are all subjected to stress. Some stress is good. It prepares your brain and/or body to be on high alert and ready for what may be coming next. When a stressful situation occurs, your brain and body react by producing hormones – adrenaline, norepinephrine, and cortisol. These hormones increase heart rate and respiration, send more blood to skeletal muscles, dull pain, and stimulate the immune system. You become mentally alert and all systems are “go.”
However, if stress levels remain high for a sustained amount of time or if they occur too frequently, your brain and body suffer. The way your brain perceives stress determines whether stress is experienced as a panic or a challenge. While normal stress protects the body in times of threat, prolonged stress may potentially damage your brain and body.
“All well and good,” you say, “Stress happens. What can I do about it?”
There are several right answers, she said confidently:
1. In my classes I help people learn to breathe. (Did you know most of us don’t know how to breathe efficiently?) Right now, put your hand on your belly and breathe in expanding your belly like a balloon. Hold your breath for a count of 5 and slowly breathe out. This form of deep breathing is known to slow heart rate and reduce blood pressure.
2. Exercise (there is that word again) can reduce the experience of stress, depression, and anxiety. Dozens of scientific studies have demonstrated the relationship between exercise and the reduction of stress.
3. Meditation which promotes lower blood pressure and slows the heart rate.
4.Caring relationships which help in creating emotional trust, support, and relaxation.
5. Eating a diet rich in dark vegetables and fruits full of natural vitamins and minerals.
6. Count your blessings. EVERY day, record 3 things you are thankful for (BUT it is against the law to repeat every day).
7. Look for the GOOD things that are happening in this time and place – people helping and doing for others, focusing on the creativity that is helping to solve problems, and staying connected with friends and family in new ways.
8. Laughter is the best medicine. Find something to laugh about every day.
Barbara BruceAging Well Facilitator