This month, we want to know how you are preparing for the future by investing in your health! Tell us (or show us) what you do to invest in your body, your mind, and your relationships for your chance to win great weekly prizes and a $150 grand prize! To inspire you, we’ll be featuring regular healthy aging content on the Northern Health Matters blog all month long!
I have a question for you.
What do battling a sabre-toothed tiger, juggling multiple responsibilities at work, and dealing with a house full of screaming toddlers have in common? If your answer is that they all cause a bit of stress, you’d be right! However, there’s more at play here.
Fight or flight
You’ve probably heard the term “fight or flight” associated with stress at one time or another. The more technical term for this is the stress response. The stress response came about a long time ago when humans, more often than not, faced situations (like bumping into a sabre-toothed tiger) that required fighting or running away. It helped our bodies “find another gear” that got us out of dangerous situations.
It’s really all about how we see things
Today’s world is much different and most of life’s problems require a cool head and thinking, not running or flailing away with a wooden club. Often, stress can be a result of your perception of situations. When you perceive a situation as being more than you can handle or as being threatening, the stress response kicks in.
In the modern world, stress usually results from situations that have to do with work, family life or finances as opposed to truly life-threatening situations (no sabre-toothed tigers in Terrace!). However, human beings take time to evolve and the stress response is still activated in times of perceived threat. Sometimes these situations aren’t resolved quickly and it results in stress lingering.
Being “in another gear” for an extended period takes a toll on your health. Even mild levels of stress can have a negative impact on your health if they persist long enough. Sleeping problems, headaches, and an increased likelihood of getting sick are associated with stress.
Learning to manage stress is an important part of healthy aging. Here are some suggestions for dealing with stress:
- Get to the root cause of your stress. Make sure you’re working on the real cause of stress.
- Be proactive, be organized, and don’t let small things build up or multiply. Take care of small problems before they become too big to handle or so many that they become overwhelming.
- Talk about things. Talking to someone you trust can help take the weight off your shoulders and could lead to a solution. If stress is having a negative impact on your life, don’t be afraid to seek professional help.
- Have hobbies and activities that take you away from stress for a while and let you focus on something enjoyable.
- Learn to quiet your mind. Solving the problems of today usually requires thinking. However, that can be hard to do when you’re stressed. Try techniques such as meditation, yoga, mindfulness or breathing techniques to quiet the noise and focus on finding a solution to what is causing you stress.
- Don’t forget the physical connection. Getting regular physical activity and eating well help in managing stress and promoting overall wellness.
- Monitor what you tell yourself. How you think about things has an effect on your response to them. Focus on solutions and watch out for negative self-talk. Look for the bright side!
- Simplify your life. It’s easy to get overwhelmed in today’s world of deadlines and responsibilities. Learn to say no when you’re overwhelmed. Make your to-do list reasonable.
At the end of the day, everyone experiences stress. It’s part of life. However, it can be managed and it doesn’t need to impact our health in a negative way. Moreover, not all stress is bad. Stress can be a good thing if it motivates you to focus on a task or solve a problem.
So, what will you do this week to invest in your mind and deal with those annoying sabre-toothed tigers? Remember to send us a picture or quick line about how you kept your brain engaged for your chance to win!
About Reg Wulff
Reg is a Regional Tobacco Reduction Coordinator with Northern Health and has his BA in Health Science. Previously, he worked as a Recreation Therapist with Mental Health and Addictions Services in Terrace. Originally from Revelstoke, Reg enjoys the outdoor activities that Terrace offers, like mountain biking and fishing. Reg also likes playing hockey, working out and creative writing. He is married and has two sons and believes strongly in a work/life balance as family time is important to him.