It’s essential to develop skills for stress management at any age because stress impacts more than just your mood. In fact, long-term or chronic stress can increase your risk for conditions like heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure and depression.
Fortunately, you can practice stress management and improve your mental health by implementing healthy habits and mindfulness into your daily routine. At The Woodlands at Canterfield, we prioritize resident wellness in our luxury senior living community through programs and opportunities that help individuals improve their health and manage their stress.
WHAT CAUSES CHRONIC STRESS?
If you’ve ever heard the phrase “fight or flight,” you’re familiar with your immediate reaction to a high-intensity situation. This is how stress occurs in the body.
Stress is defined as “a state of worry or mutual tension caused by a difficult situation,” so when people experience some form of stress, their body shifts into this “fight or flight” mode as a coping response. In short bursts, stress can be beneficial for the body, as it can help us avoid danger or meet specific deadlines. That being said, there are two types of stress:
Have you ever had to slam on the brakes to avoid a car accident? Think about how you felt at that moment. Your heart was probably beating rapidly, your hands probably became shaky and sweaty, and you experienced an immediate stress reaction in that brief instance.
Acute stress occurs in situations like this, where we need to manage a dangerous situation or when we attempt something new or exciting. Everybody experiences acute stress at some point in their lives.
Unlike acute stress, which occurs briefly, chronic stress happens when a person feels stressed for an extended period. For example, stress that occurs over weeks or months is considered chronic stress and can happen when a person is managing ongoing stressors such as work, financial concerns, grief or changes to health.
People often become so used to chronic stress that they don’t even realize it’s a problem, so it’s essential to develop coping skills to manage stress and mental health.
HOW DOES STRESS AFFECT OVERALL HEALTH?
Everyone experiences stress differently, but chronic stress causes symptoms, including:
- Sleeping Problems
- Weight Gain or Loss
- Frequent Aches and Pains
- Lack of Focus and Concentration
- Upset Stomach
When a person experiences stress, they’re experiencing the body releasing hormones that make the brain more alert, cause muscles to tense and increase the pulse. With chronic stress, your body stays alert even when there is no danger, which can lead to a myriad of severe health conditions, such as:
- High Blood Pressure
- Heart Disease
- Depression and Anxiety
HOW CAN I COMBAT STRESS?
If you’re dealing with chronic stress or are curious about how to reduce stress levels, here are some examples of healthy habits and activities you can implement to prioritize stress and mental health.
Exercise releases endorphins in the body, the brain’s neurotransmitters that create feel-good energy. When people exercise, they can naturally relieve stress. Exercise can also imitate the effects of stress and allow the body to naturally gain more practice in working through stress in a healthy way.
Several studies have shown that participating in leisurely activities or your favorite hobbies reduces stress levels. For example, one particular study found that 75% of participants had lower cortisol levels after spending time focusing on creating artwork!
“A stress journal can help you identify the regular stressors in your life and the way you deal with them. Each time you feel stressed, make a note of it in your journal or use a stress tracker on your phone. Keeping a daily log will enable you to see patterns and common themes (helpguide.org).”
Mindful meditation can help interrupt the stress cycle and allow your body more space to respond rather than react. Breathing exercises, a positive mindset, self-compassion and gratitude are all excellent ways to remain mindful throughout the day.
At The Woodlands at Canterfield, we’ve created a luxury senior living community in West Dundee, Illinois, built on a commitment to wellness and hospitality. Discover it for yourself by scheduling your visit today!