Page 18 - Senior Times South Central Michigan - December 2017 - 24-12
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Page 18
Senior Times - December 2017
from the
During the busy-ness of the holiday season I have a tendency to reprioritize the activities I must accomplish each day. When the minutes are winding down, however, it often seems that the me-moments fall off the page. How do I tackle that challenge? I put me at the beginning of the day.
I am not a morning person but the one thing that the fall-back from day- light savings time affords me is the opportunity to use that extra hour that I’ve grown accustomed to for a bit of exercise. Fortunately, that means my exercise has been accomplished already and it sets the day for success.
For those of you that are caregivers, stress piles up for additional reasons for you during this time. Keeping your inner peace can seem extra challeng- ing. Simple relaxation techniques can reduce stress symptoms and help you to experience the joy of the holiday.
1. Breathe Deeply – Take a 5-min- ute break and focus on your breathing. Sit up straight, eyes closed, with a hand on your belly. Slowly inhale through your nose, feeling the breath start in your abdomen and work its way to the top of your head. Reverse the process as you exhale through your mouth.
“Deep breathing counters the effects of stress by slowing the heart rate and lowering blood pressure,” says psy- chologist Judith Tutin, PhD, certified life coach.
2. Decompress – Place a warm heat wrap around your neck and shoulders for 10 minutes. Close your eyes and relax your face, neck, upper chest, and back muscles. Remove the wrap, and use a tennis ball or foam roller to mas- sage away tension.
3. Meditate – A few minutes per day can help ease anxiety. “Research suggests that daily meditation may alter the brain’s neural pathways, mak- ing you more resilient to stress,” says psychologist Robbie Maller Hartman, PhD, a Chicago health and wellness coach.
It's simple. Sit up straight with both feet on the floor. Close your eyes. Focus your attention on reciting – out loud or silently – a positive thought. Place one hand on your belly to sync the thought with your breaths. Let
any distracting thoughts float by like clouds.
When you spend time in the moment and focus on your senses, you should feel less tense.
4. Crank Up the Tunes – Research shows that listening to soothing music can lower blood pressure, heart rate, and anxiety. Create a playlist of songs or nature sounds and allow your mind to focus on the different melodies, instruments, or singers. You also can blow off steam by rocking out to more upbeat tunes – or singing at the top of your lungs!
5. Get Moving – All forms of exer- cise, including yoga and walking, can ease depression and anxiety by helping the brain release feel-good chemicals and by giving your body a chance to practice dealing with stress. You can go for a quick walk around the block, take the stairs up and down a few flights, or do some stretching exercises like head rolls and shoulder shrugs.
6. Laugh Out Loud – A good belly laugh doesn’t just lighten the load men- tally. It lowers cortisol, your body’s stress hormone, and boosts brain chemicals called endorphins, which help your mood. Laughter also benefits many organs. Laughter enhances your intake of oxygen-rich air, and stimu- lates your heart, lungs, and muscles.
7. Reach Out – Your social network is one of your best tools for handling stress. Talk to others – preferably face to face, or at least on the phone. Share what's going on. You can get a fresh perspective while keeping your connec- tion strong.
“Being grateful for your blessings cancels out negative thoughts and worries,” says Joni Emmerling, a wellness coach. Consider a gratitude journal to keep track of all that you are grateful for. You can turn to it during additional times of stress.
Relaxation techniques can reduce stress symptoms by slowing heart and breathing rates; lowering blood pressure; decreasing fatigue, muscle tension, chronic pain, anger, and frus- tration; all the while increasing blood flow, improving concentration and mood, and boosting confidence to handle problems.
You might find that you will need to plan time to relax, especially when caregiving. Take advantage of nap times, travel time, or even look for rea- sons to laugh while caregiving. If none of these techniques seem to work, con- sider talking with your doctor for other solutions. Don’t let your stress build so that you become ill and are no longer available to help the person that is so very important to you.
Sherii Sherban, Special to Senior Times
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