Stress can ruin your senior years.

Stress is good and bad. When humans were hunter-gatherers, stress provided that extra bit of energy to avoid being the hunted. The stress reaction is built into our bodies. Stress is not the real problem. It is how we react to the stress that is the problem. Left unchecked, stress can quickly make you look older.

Stress has widespread effects on the body. It causes cortisol to be created, mobilizes energy, improves fatigue (in the short term), increases our appetite for sugar, and slows down our metabolism. It also accelerates aging, increases abdominal fat, disrupts sleep, decreases bone density, dampens the thyroid, impairs cognitive ability, depresses the immune system, and challenges the central nervous system.

There are several easy stress reduction techniques that can be used to counter the onset of stress. First, don’t allow a person or event to control your emotions. Remove yourself from the person or event causing the stress. If you can’t (boss, co-worker, spouse, child, job, etc.) take a deep breath and let it out slowly – several times.

I also recommend that before taking that deep breath to simply smile. You can’t have a positive and negative thought in your mind at the same time. Our face is a movie screen to the outside world showing our emotions. If you allow the stress to control your emotions, your face will be one of the first places that stress is displayed.

Forcing a smile disrupts the negative thought flow from the brain and replaces it with a positive stimulus from the face. The brain doesn’t know what to do, so it stops doing what it was doing. You counter the initial emotion brought on by the stressor. There are many stress reduction techniques and you should master several to keep stress at bay.

There are many other options that can be done daily to reduce or remove stress. Try breathing exercises, keep a diary, yoga classes, exercise regularly (all types), eat nutritionally balanced meals, enjoy pleasure reading, get away from your surroundings for short periods of time, laugh more, do puzzles (crossword, sudoku), listen to music, engage aromatherapy, employ emotional freedom techniques, and get a massage,

Stress management must be done daily. Left unchecked, you will look older and fatter in less time than you think. However, it can be reversed. Take a survey of those things that bother you, upset you, frustrate you on a regular basis. What can you do to minimize your exposure to them? What additional stress relief options can you employ?

How many times a day can you take a brief moment to smell the roses and let the stress roll off your back? It’s not the stress, but the acceptance of that stress that you won’t let go. You can own it and suffer the aging consequences. Or, let it go, let it go, let it go!

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