“How Do You Spell R.E.L.I.E.F?”

Welcome back to the  “How Do You Spell R.E.L.I.E.F?” series. In the last blog we explored a bit about relaxing. There are all kinds of relaxation techniques and methods. One way to deal with stress you may not have thought of is our next letter.

E is for exercise. Before you get too turned off about having to get out and jog, exercise doesn’t have to be a grueling experience. We will be emphasizing being physically  active- having fun, rather than a formal exercise program. Unless you really enjoy working out, exercise can be a form of stress for you. So, look at keeping your body moving in fun ways. There are a lot of benefits from physical activity: lower cholesterol levels, increased energy levels, sleeping better, having a better sense of control,weight loss are just a few. But the benefits we want to consider here are those that reduce stress.

Remember talking about the hormones that are released when you’re stressed out over level five? Our bodies still react to stress the way we did as cavepeople. This primitive “fight or flight” stress reaction has not evolved over the ages. We still react physically. But,the cave person just ran away or fought it out with a dinosaur.  We usually just go sit down at our desk and literally stew in our own juices. If we do nothing to deal with those juices, the harmful hormones will remain in our bodies for up to 24 hours. But just 10 to 15 minutes of fairly vigorous physical activity erases those harmful secretions. Taking a brisk walk can do the trick. Also, research shows that the boosted energy and mood levels after just a 10 minute walk can last for two hours. In treating certain types of depression walking programs have proven just as effective as a counseling session.

It doesn’t take much to change yourself from a stress couch potato  to living the sedentary lifestyle, to an active person managing your stress. We’re not talking about strenuous aerobic exercise, but becoming physically active enough to decrease your stress and develop some other healthy benefits.

You can start by making physical activity a part of your life. Gardening increases heart rate by 25%. Try some chase football, golfing or dancing. Take a frisbee with you to the park, and instead of sitting on the bench watching the kids, get up and throw the frisbee around. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Or park your car a little further away from the store office front and give yourself the opportunity to walk a bit more.

A reminder that in April, Liz Barta, our RN educator at Catalina In Home Services, Inc., is presenting an online in-depth version of “How Do You Spell R.E.L.I.E.F?”.  This talk is sponsored by Tucson Medical Center For Seniors program. Soon we will provide details to register for this free presentation.