Maintain balance to combat stress

Stress is a major hurdle for many people — a hectic, nerve-wracking job, a chaotic home life, bills to worry about, bad habits such as unhealthy eating, poor lifestyle practices and an inability to cope with things can lead to a mountain of stress.

Lynn Pietroski

Recently I was reading an article about working women with and without children and it engrossed me. The report cited a long-term study that indicated “mothers who have jobs are healthier than those who are not employed, at least when their children are very young.” Results were based on interviews starting in 1991 with 1,364 mothers from Arkansas, California, Kansas, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin.

Researchers interviewed women throughout their children’s infancy, preschool years and into elementary school. Working mothers in the study were less depressed and reported better overall healththan moms who stayed at home with their young children, though the benefit of working did not extend into school years.

So as I read on, and the study listed one statistic to another, I realized that as a woman, child bearing or not, you must take care of yourself. There is stress all around us, whether it is our children, our families, friends, loved ones, our job or everyday life. Find strength and positivity in all that surrounds you. Do not make excuses—make solutions.

Even worse is we are told the most balanced and beneficial exercise routine is one that combines aerobic activity, strength training and flexibility. It is truly enough to make a person throw up their hands and say “I give up; I just don’t know what to do.” We are constantly bombarded with this study and that study.

If you knew one simple thing could improve your health, would you do it? When you laugh, you learn. Yes, heart health can be fun.

In an ideal world, we wouldn’t have to worry about money for college, let alone the rent or mortgage payment. We would waltz out of our glamorous, well-paid jobs, zip to the gym for an hour with a personal trainer and then breeze home to a gourmet dinner prepared by our loving family members.

Be objective in choosing which tasks to undertake. If one of your major life goals is stress-free living, or at least minimizing your stress, the tasks you choose to accept and those you choose to decline should reflect that goal. Learn that it is OK to say no to those demands that do not support your self-defined purpose in life. Cultivate an ability to say no gracefully.

Even after you decide that a particular demand is not aligned with your major goals, there still is likely to be stress associated with declining the demand. You might feel compassion toward the person who makes the demand. Your upbringing may cause you to feel guilty about choosing not to do what others ask of you. And, the actual act of saying no could cause embarrassment or fear.

At a reasonable level, stress is something that challenges us and helps us grow. How you deal with stress is the ruse. The trick to healthy living is making small changes – taking more steps, adding fruit to your cereal, having an extra glass of water – these are just a few ways you can start living healthy without drastic changes.

I discovered a simple list to live by:

  1. Do the best you can, whatever arises.
  2. Be at peace with yourself.
  3. Find a job you enjoy.
  4. Live simply.
  5. Contact nature every day; feel the earth under your feet.
  6. Don’t worry; live one day at a time.
  7. Share something every day with someone else.
  8. Take time to wonder at life and the world.
  9.  Observe the one life in all things.
  10. See some humor in life where you can.

As American humorist and author Mark Twain once said: “Against the assault of laughter nothing can stand.” He was right. Laughter has a lot of health benefits, too.