By the time you are in your mid-60s, you are wise enough to know that most New Year’s resolutions don’t stick. Be honest, which of these have you tried in the last decade: Gym membership, diet program, never buying a pint of Ben and Jerry’s again, eating more greens, cease smoking, drinking a little less, calling your mother a little more? Regardless of what you’ve tried, and possibly failed at, you may recall some added stress brought into your life. I remember the first year I bought a gym membership. I was so worried about paying for something that I was not using that I cringed each time I drove by it. It caused me so much stress I began taking a different route just to avoid the big FITNESS sign. Another example is my friend who told his wife he quit smoking. A month later she caught him out back puffing on a pack. The stress this little white lie put on him and his marriage became unmanageable.
Here is a bit of advice for 2015: Avoid stress. Stress is a killer. It causes heart disease and early death. In fact, the scariest statistic I have read is from Stanford researchers. The study found 40% of family members caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s will pass away of a stress related illness prior to the passing of the patient. And what’s ironic, according to another study, is stress speeds up the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.
Here are some steps to reduce stress:
- Use relaxation techniques – Do you like to breathe? Take it slowly and do it more often, preferably in a quiet place. If your home isn’t quiet, try your car or the garage. Breathe in and out – slowly – three times. It only takes three breathes to calm a stressful situation.
- Increase endorphins – Do you like it when you’re filled with happiness? Your brain releases chemicals called endorphins when you laugh, do light exercise, or run. So walk or run on over to the movie theater and catch a comedy. Horrible Bosses 2 is really funny.
- Eat Vitamin C – This all-purpose vitamin tastes good and is good for you. Eat more citrus or buy a bottle of the yummy chewable. Just watch out, the grandkids will try to eat your vitamins. Don’t forget to check with your doctor to find out how many milligrams is the perfect dose for you.
- Tell the truth – Best joke I heard recently from an Eskaton resident: “When asked how I stay looking so young, I say, ‘Clean Living.’ I don’t smoke, drink, or run with women. What do I do for fun? I lie.” But if you watch soap operas you know the truth, even a small lie can get out of control and eat away at you. The stress of a lie can be unbearable and keep you up at night.
- Improve your quality of sleep – A good night sleep can add years to your life. If you follow steps 1-4 above, sleep can significantly improve.
To reduce your risk for obesity, heart disease, depression, stomach aches, accelerated aging and premature death resolve to REDUCE YOUR STRESS…and please call your mother more often.
If you know someone suffering with Alzheimer’s or dementia, or someone caring for a loved one with this debilitating disease, please let them know support is available to help manage the stress. Visit www.eskaton.org/dementia for more information.