Navigating the changes of midlife causes stress, there's no doubt about it, and we'd all like to reduce stress in our lives.
But stress can be positive, keeping us on our toes. Stress becomes negative when we continually face challenges without relief. Tension builds in the body, causing an assortment of physical problems -- such as headaches, upset stomach, high blood pressure, chest pain, and sleep problems.
For women over 50, the effects of chronic stress are compounded. Your body isn't as resilient as it once was, so it needs better maintenance -- a healthier lifestyle -- to repair itself. Face it: It's time to reduce stress.
The keys to less stress and greater happiness? They aren't more money or material objects, says Charles Raison, MD, assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta. They're positive action, good health, good relationships, and a sense of optimism.
How to Reduce Stress and Achieve Emotional Balance
- Exercise regularly. Exercise reduces stress, improves mood, and boosts overall health. It also helps you sleep better.
- Build a support system. For some people, becoming part of a religious community helps reduce stress. For others it may be diving into a swim club, or a sewing circle. But wherever your find them, solid friendships help you feel warmth, security, connection.
- Keep a positive attitude. Look for silver linings and good news. Make a gratitude list.
- Let go of negatives. Accept that there are things you cannot control.
- Be assertive instead of aggressive. Instead of becoming angry, defensive, or passive, assert your feelings, opinions, or beliefs.
- Find ways to relax. Learn to meditate. Try relaxation tapes and CDs. Listen to the great music of classical composers.
- Develop new interests. Having a sense of adventure can help you reduce stress. Tune in to your dreams. Find things to be passionate about. Find a hobby. Be creative!
- Get enough rest and sleep. When you're under stress, your body needs time to recover. Give it the rest it needs.
- Eat healthy, balanced meals. Your body needs good nutrition to fight the effects of stress. Also, don't rely on alcohol to quiet your anxiety.
- Volunteer. When you commit yourself to helping others, you find purpose. You take the focus off yourself, but you achieve a feeling of accomplishment.
Don't let a harried and hectic world get the better of you. Make a little time, try a few of these tips -- and reduce stress.