Who knew that the 40’s and 50’s were going to be so hard? Why does no one tell you this? I always envisioned my 40’s and 50’s including a lot of lounging by various poolsides and sipping cosmos. I could see myself gaining the respect of younger women as I peered over the rims of my Gucci sunglasses and regaled them with my hilariously witty comments mixed with sage wisdom. Sadly, this has not been the case, but I have my goals. Managing stress is a term tossed around frequently – usually showing someone lounging in a bubble bath with a good book in hand. Well, that’s great n’ all but when life hauls back and throat punches you, I feel like it’s going to take more than bubbles to actually help. Am I right?
If you’ve been around here a while, you know that my fit, health-driven husband had a heart attack just before Christmas. This happened in the midst of what was probably the most stressful time of our lives. Just a month ago, we found out that we would be moving. Like, stat. Right away. Pack up all of your belongings- move to a new home. We honestly thought we had another year here, but the owners have decided to sell so we are scrambling. If you follow me on Instagram Stories, you’ll know that this is a special mountain home with an incredible view that has been such a balm to my soul during these times and it’ll be incredibly hard to leave it. We’ve moved a lot (here and here, and here). There are, of course, loads of other details, and all of these things come at the tail end of a bunch of other stressful events that were out of our control- but all in all: it’s been pretty stressful!
Managing stress is incredibly important and even more so as we age. Everything from hormonal health, weight gain, loss of sleep, inflammation, and a myriad of chronic illnesses can be blamed on chronic stress. To put it plainly: Chronic stress puts your health at risk. And study after study shows that Americans are STRESSED.OUT.
We don’t always have control over the events of life. Sometimes in spite of the very best decisions- things still happen that can make life incredibly hard. Life can be over- stressful at ANY age so I wanted to put together a resource of useful ways that can help you in managing stress.
It is a cruel fact of life that the times in life when you LEAST want to exercise, are typically the times that you need it the most. For me, hiking has been my go-to over the past few months. I MAKE myself go. I hike a few miles every day and the effects I’ve felt are both physical as well as mental. This is the #1 recommendation I have for stress management. Move. Break a sweat. Physically it helps your body get rid of that cortisol dump you’ve got going on and mentally you get a nice big dose of neurochemicals to help your brain cope. Exercise works in managing stress. Figure out something you’ll do, make it a priority and feel the benefits!
Stress can make you withdraw from others because when you’re stressed out, hanging out with anyone else can feel like work. I’m a bit of an introvert anyway. I’ve never needed or thrived in a “gang” of friends. In fact, I find it somewhat draining while others find it energizing. But I have always needed that ONE friend. The one who has your back when things turn upside down. It’s important to know what “community” is to YOU, but you gotta have some support. And I’m not talking about a session to dump all of your problems out- I just mean some area of your life where you communicate regularly with others. When you are trying to manage stressful times, surround yourself with people who are encouragers. They don’t even have to know what you’re going through- encouraging people are always helpful to be around! Make the effort to create a community that is good for YOU, whatever that looks like. Humans were meant to interact with one another, and it turns out we actually need that as a piece of our good mental health.
We can’t always do this one, but it’s worth noting. If you are dealing with an overabundance of stress, be sure that you aren’t putting yourself unnecessarily in a trigger zone over and over. If your teenaged daughter is stressing you out of your mind, well- you can’t get rid of your teenaged daughter- but maybe you CAN change your patterns or schedules so that the two of you aren’t always going head to head. It’s worth taking stock of stressful triggers in your life to see if there are some that can be mitigated.
I actually HATE that term and let’s get real, meditation is hard as hell. And it can take YEARS to learn to truly meditate. That being said, studies show that you still reap some of the benefits even when you’re still just * trying* to meditate. I’m a Christian, so prayer is a really big part of my life and it most definitely helps me to take lay my troubles at the feet of a benevolent God. I also can personally recommend yoga. Almost anyone can do it and it gives a giant payout for the amount of effort involved. The health benefits are staggering but to put it bluntly, yoga helps to reduce stress because it promotes relaxation. The more you practice yoga, the more you learn the ability to calm, focus and relax YOURSELF. I have experienced this myself and it’s worth noting that during my most stressful times in life- I was NOT practicing yoga.
I know, I know- Enough sleep helps in managing stress, but you’re stressed so you can’t get enough sleep! The unfortunate truth is that too little quality sleep can actually make your stress (among a host of other things) worse. Try some radical changes: make a routine for going to bed and for waking up and stick to it, get a sound machine, get a weighted blanket, try a sleep supplement, get a sleep mask. Getting quality sleep for yourself is incredibly important to your health so your time and efforts in cultivating that for yourself are well spent. I’ll link the things below that have helped me in this area.
CLICK ANY PHOTO TO SHOP
Get off the sugar to take the pressure off of your adrenals. When we’re stressed out we usually make the very poorest choices in food…… which keeps us stressed out! In my opinion, and from experience, eliminating processed sugar and refined carbohydrates and adding plenty of healthy fats, dark leafy greens, fruits, meat, fish (especially oily fish) and nuts is what will give you what your adrenals need to help you in managing stress. (Losing weight and feeling better will just be an added bonus!) I still believe (and practice) that going 5 days completely sugar-free is the key to stopping sugar cravings!
Always check with your doctor or pharmacist before adding supplements, but there are many supplements that have helped people to manage an overabundance of stress. For me personally, GABA before bed, CBD oil, and St. Johns Wort have all been very effective in helping me to manage overly stressful times. Do your research and talk to your doctor to help you find supplemental help in your stress management.
CLICK ANY PHOTO TO SHOP
I hope that you have found this post helpful. Managing stress in midlife can be so challenging, but it’s worth the effort! I’ll be sharing more about our own current situation in IG stories if you’re interested. We still haven’t found a place and I’m packing the house like the pro that I’ve become over the years.
Have you ever dealt with chronic stress? Was there anything in particular that helped you?
Thank you so much for reading! It helps me so much when you guys pin my posts to Pinterest or share on Facebook, so thank you!