9 Tips to Manage Stress for Better Healthby Carol Bradley Bursack Caregiver
Increasingly, stress is considered a risk factor for dementia, particularly Alzheimer’s. Stress is also a risk factor for stroke and heart attack as well as a trigger for many diseases from arthritis to psoriasis. Obviously, limiting stress in our lives is a good idea. But how? Simply living what we call modern life seems to make stress the norm.
Adjust Your Attitude
Attitude adjustments can be powerful. Everyone has problems. Some become bitter because of one setback, while others will face life with a smile even after facing certifiable tragedy. What’s the difference between these two personalities? It’s how they look at life. It’s attitude. A positive, resilient attitude leads to less stress.
Mind and Spirit
Look to meditation, prayer and/or time alone with nature, books or music to help lower your stress levels. People who have a strong spiritual life are often more able to cope with stress in a healthy manner. Mind and spirit often work together, so calming oneself through these practices can literally save your life.
Get rid of perfectionism. I know that I can be more stressed than I need to be simply because I think I have to do everything right now and do it perfectly. Likely you are similar. Perfectionism can lead us in an even more stressful cycle as we fail to meet own standards.
Exercise and Diet
Yes, I know that these tips are obvious. However, exercise has been repeatedly shown to lower our stress levels and a healthy diet has been—also repeatedly—shown to help our bodies cope with the negative effects of cortisol which pours into our bodies when we are stressed. Determine which lifestyle changes could help you and try to follow through.
Get rid of "mental clutter." We're all different, but try to find a way to get rid of little things picking at your brain. Sometimes just writing down tasks to be accomplished can help. For me, checking small things off a long list can help me feel less stressed.
Do something you enjoy. Read a good book, go to a concert, take a walk alone or with a buddy, have coffee with friends, get away from the computer. Anything that you really enjoy should help your body heal from the negative effects of constant stress.
Give Yourself Credit
Appreciate wisdom gained through the years rather than scolding yourself for each little memory slip. Know that you have a great deal to offer because of your experience. If you are caring for an elder, appreciate the positive aspects of the elder's life journey. You may gain some perspective about your own journey by listening to an elder’s story.
Set Your Priorities
What really matters? Once you've figured that out, prioritize. Is a perfectly clean house your biggest concern or can you settle for picking up and a once over cleaning? Lowering your standards in some areas can lower your stress and make you more effective in others. If you are a caregiver, it’s people who count, not appearances.
Love and Let Others Love You
Try to love others and enjoy those who love you. Love can be one of the healthiest, stress lowering emotions available. Love can heal the heart and mind. It can also heal the body.
As long as we are alive we’ll have stress. In fact, our happiest moments often are accompanied by stress. It’s managing the stress so that our bodies aren’t pummeled by cortisol, a negative hormone that can be pumped out at high levels when we are stressed, that matters. Learn to limit stress by working with your body, mind and spirt. Doing so will increase your chances of maintaining a satisfying life.