Stress ~ the S word we have all been cordially introduced to at one time or another in our lives. In fact, in a recent study, 70% of adults in the United States say they feel stress daily.
Stress is a powerful tornado of fury with the ability to affect our health, sleep, attitude and appearance. If we’re lucky, stress comes and goes like an unwelcome visitor.
However, if it persists, according to the Mayo Clinic, and Dr. Oz, chronic stress can put us at risk for:
Memory and concentration impairments
I’m going to get a little personal in this post, and open up about my life of late and how stress has wrapped it’s sticky tentacles around me. My goal is in part, therapeutic, as it’s helpful to journal or share our thoughts and feelings with others.
I’m also hoping by sharing how stress has affected my life and the changes I’m now determined to make to reclaim my health, it might encourage you to share your own feelings and struggles. I’m going to outline the steps I will be taking to show stress the door.
The last year has been a whirlwind of unexpected life changes, health issues and surgeries for several of my loved ones, emergency flights as well as the recent devastating and unexpected loss of our 25 year old nephew two weeks ago.
The results of a blistering year-long duel with stress has slowly but surely affecting almost every aspect of my life. My diet has changed (for the worst), I don’t sleep well and I’ve stopped working out altogether. This has caused changes in my appearance too, from body to the new wrinkles on my face (sighhhhhh).
It wasn’t but a year ago that I drank freshly made fruit and veggie smoothies daily, and lunch was often tuna mixed with avocado and fresh celery slices. Exercise played a key roll in my life too, which helped reduce stress and made it easy to fall asleep.
Safe to say I lived a pretty healthy lifestyle, and at 55+, my doctor was happy with my choices. In the past, I did the following:
Ate a healthy diet
Exercised 4 days per week
Walked dogs daily
Took multi vitamins
Drank 1 Tbsp of olive oil daily
Slept like a log
I’ve stopped working out entirely (don’t tell anyone) and rarely walk the dogs. My diet now consists largely of coffee, burgers with fries, sweet tea and chocolate. The last year has looked like this:
Don’t walk the dogs
Don’t take my vitamins
Don’t drink olive oil
Worry ~ why yes, thank you very much
Difficulty concentrating ~ squirrel, I love coffee!
Loss of muscle tone
Lots of cellulite
Big increase in wrinkles
It took the tragic loss of my beautiful, perpetually smiling nephew to force me to wake up and realize that our actions or inactions can either contribute to or reduce our stress levels.
While we have no control over the challenges and hurdles God puts before us, by taking care of ourselves inside and out, we can be better prepared when stress comes a calling.
Get enough sleep
Meditate (deep breathing)
Simplify your life
Create a schedule and stick with it
Journal your thoughts and worries
Laugh and take time to enjoy that which brings you joy
Eat a balanced diet
Eat green leafy veggies ~ they contain folate which increases dopamine, which helps to calm us
Oatmeal ~ helps the brain make serotonin, the same substance regulated by antidepressants
Yogurt ~ healthy gut = less stress
Salmon ~ high in Omega 3 Fatty Acids, which may help counteract the negative effects of stress hormones
Blueberries ~ the antioxidants they contain help improve your body’s response to stress and fight stress-related free radicals
Pistachios ~ Eating pistachios may reduce acute stress by lowering blood pressure and heart rate
Dark Chocolate ~ can reduce your stress hormones, including cortisol
The easiest way to set ourselves up for failure is to set a long list of goals while stressed. Instead, I’ll begin by setting three goals each week. That way I won’t give up on the whole shebang if I have a bad day.
I’m choosing one goal from each category to begin my battle with stress. Each week, I’ll add more goals.
1. Walk dogs once a day, 5 days each week (Exercise)
2. Drink fresh veggie and fruit smoothies 5 days a week (Nutrition)
3. Meditate 5 days a week (Health)
So many of you have reached out in support and kindness and I want thank you from the bottom of my heart.
I have indeed, achieved my anti-stress goals and continue to add to them as I include self-care on my to-do-list. It feels wonderful to be back on track!
Here’s to peace and much happiness, my friends. If you know someone who’s stressed, why not share this challenge with them too? We are stronger together.