Which of these is situations sounds like stress to you?
- You receive a promotion at work
- Your car has a flat tire
- You go to a fun party that lasts till 6:00 a.m
- Your dog gets sick
- Your new furniture is being delivered
- Your best friend’s family come to stay at your house for a week
- You get a bad case of hay fever
All of these can be forms of stress.
If you think stress is something that makes you worry, you have the wrong idea of stress. Stress is many different kinds of things: happy things, sad things, and even physical things. Many people carry enormous stress loads and don’t even realize it!
It’s important to know how stress effects your brain and what to do about it or it will become really difficult for you to create the fun ageless lifestyle you want to live.
What is Stress?
Stress is when you’re worried about getting laid off, or worried about having enough money to pay your bills, or worried about your mother when the doctor says she may need an operation. In fact, to most people, stress is synonymous with worry. If it is something that makes you worry, then it’s stress.
Your body, however, has a much broader definition of stress. To your body, stress is synonymous with change. Anything that causes a change in your life causes stress. It doesn’t matter if it is a “good” change or a “bad” change, they are both stress. When you find your dream home and get ready to move, that is stress. If you break your leg, that is stress. Good or bad, if it is a change in your life, it is stress as far as your body is concerned.
Even imagined change is stress. Imagining changes is what we call worrying. If you’re afraid you won’t have enough money to pay your rent, that is stress. If you worry that you may get fired, that is stress. If you think that you may receive a promotion at work, that is also stress (even though this would be a good change). Whether the event is good or bad, imagining changes in your life is stressful.
Every change causes stress…
Anything that causes change in your daily routine is stressful.
Anything that causes change in your health is stressful.
Imagined changes are just as stressful as real changes.
Stress Affects Your Brain
Stress causes problems with the chemicals in your brain. When life is smooth, your brain is able to produce enough calming chemicals, such as serotonin, to keep up with normal levels of stress, demands, and expectations. But when too much stress is placed on the brain, it begins to fall behind in its ability to cope. As the stress continues, some of the calming chemicals may begin to fail. Important nerve centers then become distressed. You enter a state of brain chemical imbalance known as stress.
Stress makes people feel terrible. With stress overwhelming the brain, a person feels overwhelmed by life. People complain of being tired, unable to fall asleep or to obtain a restful night’s sleep. They have aches and pains, lack of energy, lack of enjoyment of life. They feel depressed, anxious, or just unable to cope with life.
Stress Affects Your Looks
From the above description, you can probably imagine that stress can affect your looks. When you can’t sleep, you look tired. When you have aches and pains, you look (and feel) unhappy. When you have no energy, you can’t participate in life with your usual smile and sparkle. Stress can also cause skin rashes and stomach problems, which will also affect how you look.
How to Combat Stress
Breathing exercises are a wonderfully effective way to reduce stress, regulate mood, and feel energized.
One way to promote deeper breathing and better health is by exhaling completely. Try it. Take a deep breath, let it out effortlessly, and then squeeze out a little more. Doing this regularly will help build up the muscles between your ribs, and your exhalations will naturally become deeper and longer. Start by practicing this exhalation exercise consciously, and eventually it will become a healthy, unconscious habit.
For many people, exercise is a main method of reducing stress and promoting relaxation.
One of the benefits of regular aerobic exercise is its moderating effect on emotions, both long-term and short-term. If you feel angry or upset, a brisk walk or run or a half hour of lifting weights will often put you back in a good mood.
While exercise is a great way to burn up excess energy and dissipate tension, it does not necessarily teach you how to process stress differently, and is best used as a complement to another technique, such as breathing, visualization or yoga, for instance. Yoga is an excellent promoter of relaxation as well as a good form of non-aerobic body conditioning. It perfectly complements aerobic exercise.
Did you know pessimism has been linked to a higher risk of dying before age 65?
On the other hand, expressing positive emotions, such as optimism, is associated with a variety of health benefits. Some of the benefits enjoyed by people with an ageless mind are lowered production of the stress hormone cortisol, better immune function, and reduced risk of chronic diseases.
If you are stressed-out or anxious, and tend to become negative when in this state of mind, try the following steps:
Take care of yourself by eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly and getting adequate sleep
Express your emotional reactions honestly so you can effectively deal with what’s bothering you
Confide in someone – your mate, a good friend or a trusted relative
View the cup as half full instead of half empty
Since you are creating an ageless lifestyle after 50, I’m sure all of these steps for dealing with stress are ones you’re familiar with. Just be aware that all change can be stressful and know that different situation cause stress for different people. Don’t assume that if you’re not stressed by a situation neither are the other people in your life. Be on the lookout for signs of stress in yourself and others you love.