Stress seems to be the epidemic of the modern world.
And while hearing an elementary-aged grandchild talk about the stress in life, it may be cause for smiles, but stress is no laughing matter. Chronic stress brought on by a diverse menu of causes adversely affects your physical health, mental well-being and, ultimately, your overall quality of life.
Friday, October 10, is World Mental Health Day, and for those of us in the field of senior healthcare, it is a fitting day to emphasize some easy ways to "de-stress."
Activate Your 'Relaxation Response'
Experts tell us that, in addition to our built-in stress response, we have an on-board "relaxation response"— we just have to learn to activate it at will.
While it may be impossible to totally control the stressors in our lives, we can learn to channel our bodily responses in a more positive manner. If it sounds like a bit of mumbo-jumbo, just be aware that there are scientific principles involved.
Undoing the effects of stress on daily life will have beneficial effects on breathing, blood pressure, and overall health, according the NIH National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. The physical response is much more than a "state of mind."
Safe and Effective Practices
Residents of Marjorie P. Lee—from our permanent independent and assisted living residents to our rehab guests— can practice these principles alone or with neighbors. There is no magic involved, and no special equipment is needed.
Other quick and easy ways to banish stress include:
- Go for a walk. A brisk walk that provides exercise and a change of scenery is good for the body and the mind. Tension and stress will melt away as you get up and get moving.
- Enjoy Nature. Getting out and feeling the breeze, hearing the birds sing, and simply enjoying the beauty around you can be a perfect way to relieve your troubles and return home with a lighter heart and renewed energy.
- Deep breathing exercises. Concentrate on the mechanics of breathing, in and out, and you'll lower your blood pressure and nourish your body with life-giving oxygen.
- Put on soothing music. You'll be surprised at the effect a favorite tune can have on your mood and your stress levels. Classical music is particularly soothing, but if you prefer foot-tapping, sing-along rhythm, that's okay too.
- Have a bite of candy. Just one small bite (or sip) of something sweet can stem the production of the stress hormone. Yes, it's true. Just don't overdo the chocolate!
- Indulge in a healthier snack. As foods go, eating a potato or a banana— think potassium— can also be a nutritional bonanza for combating stress. These and other common foods like nuts and berries are helpful in relieving physical deterioration and pain; they boost energy and counteract negative effects of stress.
- Get involved. Do something you love. Knitting, reading, crossword puzzles, repetitive games like solitaire, or any hobby or craft that involves fine motor skills can work to calm the mind and focus attention away from stressful situations.
- Visit a friend. Talk about anything other than what's bothering you. Sometimes just putting it in words is enough to banish the stress.
- Visualize or Meditate. Relive a wonderful vacation in your mind. Think of your grandchildren. Or meditate on a favorite phrase, concept or poem. First, clear your mind. Then let it fill with ideas and images that bring you pleasure.
- Laugh. Watch a funny TV show, a silly cartoon, a mindless video. Watch children or puppies play. Share a joke with a neighbor. Laughter is good for the soul.
Our Cincinnati retirement communities are aware of senior healthcare needs, and we work hard to provide the best of stress-free environments.