Senior Lifestyles

Tips for managing stress during tough times

If you’re feeling anxious and stressed over the recent adversity and hard times, I feel you. Thousands of Americans are in the same boat. You are not alone.
Whatever you’re worried about, if ignored, stress can affect your mental and physical health. Stress can be a physical reaction to feeling confused and frustrated by a situation. It will impact your sleep, eating patterns and emotional health.

Over the years, I’ve discovered a few ways to help myself through troubling times, and I’m sharing them in hopes you can find peace and relaxation to ease your mind and emotions.

  • Practice meditation or prayer. Sit and breathe deeply for a minute or two. Then visualize white light or a sense of goodness flowing through your body and into each of your cells while continuing the deep breathing. Do this for at least 10 minutes. At the end, send your love and peace out to the world.
  • Exercise. Walk outside at least 30 minutes a day. Being outside in nature helps me stay healthy and releases negative thoughts and tension. Fresh air is good for the body.
  • Eat nutritious foods. Diet is so important when mitigating stress. Add more vegetables, fruit, legumes and healthy snacks, and consume less sugar and meats. High levels of sugar and carbohydrates can raise your stress level and play havoc on the immune system.
  • Take a break from the news. The latest news can throw your stress level in a tizzy, so don’t tune in all day. Go outside and look at greenery and flowers.
  • Keep a journal. My favorite way to reduce my stress is to record my feelings and write about my confusion, frustration and anger. With everything that’s happening, it’s easy to feel anxious or confused. However, there is always something to be grateful for. I end my morning “pages” with gratitude. I write three uplifting things that happened that morning or the day before. This helps change my perspective and reminds me where I need to put my energy.
  • Talk with a friend. Just talking to someone about how you feel can be helpful. Talking distracts me from my stressful thoughts and releases built-up tension by discussing my concerns. Having constant tension clouds my judgment and can prevent me from seeing things clearly. Talk things out with a friend or a trained professional. You will find solutions to cope with stress and put your problems in perspective.

Carol Marak is an aging advocate and editor at Seniorcare.com. She earned a Certificate in the Fundamentals of Gerontology from the UC Davis School of Gerontology.

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