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‘Aging Optimally’ Part 1: Tips for evaluating and taking control of your stress

This is part 1 of a three-part series on the book “Aging Optimally” by local author Dr. Carol L. Monson. 

Stress is a physical, mental or emotional condition causing our body, mind and spirit to experience tension. Stresses are external from our environment, our mind or our interaction with others; or stresses are internal from illness, medical procedures and what we tell ourselves about them.

We live in stressful times, witnessing crises daily on TV, the internet and social media. Whether it is politics, terrorism, inflation or business concerns, we hear or see stress-inducing situations constantly. It seems the times we are living through are the worst we have ever known. Is this the new normal or another phase that will pass? What does this continuing stress do to us? Stress affects our immunity, sickens us and increases aging.

In my book, “Aging Optimally: Essential Tools for Healing Body, Mind and Spirit,” I write about how you can learn how to control your stress. Deciding you want to control your stress is the first step. Defining your stress is next.

Stress is a continuum from minor to major stressors. Make a list separating your stressors into these categories by rating stressors from minor 1-3 (least stressful) to major 3-5 (most stressful). Decide if they are external (E) or internal (I). Begin coping with them.

Some tips include:

  • Turn off your devices for most of your day. If you must use them for work, limit personal use to a small part of the day.
  • Set a specific, small time for your daily news. Choose a time well before bedtime.
  • Choose your news wisely; avoid sources that sensationalize.
  • Set a daily time for just you. It can be for meditation, exercising or an activity that relaxes you.
  • Change your perception; recognize that you are a major cause of your external stress and some internal stress.
  • Take responsibility for your stress; most people believe someone or something else is responsible for their stress.
  • What makes your stress better or worse? Choose what makes it better.
  • When you change your perception and your behavior, others will change their reaction to you.
  • Evaluate your stress behavior by asking yourself: “What is the worst thing that can happen if I don’t get my way?” Often the answer is “nothing.”

Dr. Carol L. Monson is a family physician and psychotherapist. Her book is available on Amazon, and her website is agingoptimally.org.

Lifestyle