Stress affects everyone. When it hits you, you want your body to be able to handle it.
A recent piece published by the American Grand Parents Association, advises that Stress can wear your body down, mentally and physically. But a healthy body can cope with stress better than an unhealthy one.
There are several important things you can do to keep your body healthy. Basically, it boils down to living a healthy lifestyle:
Stay active. Physical activity is an excellent stress-buster. When you become stressed, your body releases extra chemicals such as glucose and adrenaline — the fight or flight response. Physical activity helps burn up these extra chemicals so your body can return to normal. It also helps you stay healthy by keeping your bones and muscles strong, helping you sleep better, and warding off chronic illness like diabetes and heart disease. Try to get at least 30 minutes of physical activity on most days of the week and more whenever you can.
Stick to a healthy diet. That means lots of fruit, vegetables, and whole grains, and less sugar, red meat, refined and processed foods, and saturated fats. If you smoke, quit!
Have balance in your life. We all have responsibilities — work, family, social. But give yourself permission to take time to just relax and have fun, too. Do something you enjoy or have always wanted to do: take an art, dance, cooking, or language class; meet friends for regular walks.
Keep a good attitude. Focusing on the positive isn’t always easy, but it’s better for your health. Some things that could help include:
Laughing. Laughter is a positive emotion, and it’s a lot more fun than fretting! Finding humor in a situation can make you feel better under stressful circumstances. Watching a funny video or reading a funny book or newspaper column can relieve tension and help you forget about what’s causing you stress.
Staying in the present. Don’t waste energy worrying about the past — it’s over! Keep your mind positively set on the present and try to enjoy each day.
Sharing your feelings. Sometimes we feel we’re burdening people with our problems if we bring up things that trouble us. But trusted friends are usually happy to listen. You also can confide in a family or clergy member or mental health professional. Keeping things to yourself can add to your stress.
Get enough sleep. Not getting enough sleep also increases stress and can make you less able to handle stressful situations. Regardless of age, most adults need about eight hours of restful sleep a night. But sometimes stress keeps you awake, making matters worse. If you have trouble sleeping, there are some things you can try to help you sleep better. Try taking a bath before bed; avoiding caffeine, nicotine, and heavy meals near bedtime; and rearranging your room to avoid distractions like light and noise. If these don’t work and you still have trouble sleeping for three weeks or longer, talk to your doctor, a sleep disorder expert or mental health professional.
Sleeplessness can be one of many signs that your body is under stress. Other signals include headaches, backaches, sleeplessness, digestive problems, tics, hair loss, concentration problems, a racing heart, and panic attacks. If these problems don’t go away with your own efforts to reduce stress, talk to your doctor.
Arming yourself against stress is just one of the many benefits of having a healthy body. You’ll also add years to your life and life to your years!