Guest Author - Diane Adams
As you are aware, the aging process produces changes in you every single day. You used to be able to think clearly, but now you have a hard time organizing your thoughts. You once were able to multi-task and now you are lucky if you can handle one thing at a time. Stress creeps over you and you feel out of control. Now is the time to take your life back and here are some thoughts for doing just that.
To-Do Lists. I can hear the groaning now, but to-do lists are a great way to organize your day and your thoughts. My husband starts every day with a list of things he would like to accomplish. An important strategy for the to-do list is keeping it simple. Only put the number of items on the list that you know you will be able to accomplish in a day. If your list is three pages long, you will be discouraged before you even begin. Despite what your mother may have told you, everything does NOT have to be done today. If you have a three-page list, categorize the items by importance and then spread the list over a month. If you can check all the items off your list at the end of the day, you will feel a sense of accomplishment instead of failure.
Exercise. I have found that walking is a great stress reliever. Even if you only walk around the block, getting your body moving will melt away the stress. Walking with a friend can be even better if the friend is someone you enjoy spending time with. If not, then walk alone. You do not need your walking partner to add stress as you try to relieve it.
Hobbies. Do you have any hobbies that you enjoy? I was in the checkout line at a craft store and an elderly gentleman behind me put his purchases on the counter. He had picked out a paint-by-numbers project. I was immediately transported back to my childhood when I used to paint by numbers. I’d forgotten how much I enjoyed it. Your hobby does not have to be as complicated as woodcarving or sculpting. Needlework for me is relaxing, as is card-making and scrapbooking. Whatever it is you enjoy doing, get back in the habit.
Meditation. Are you under the assumption that meditation needs to be done in a place of worship or that you need to be supervised by a monk? Meditation can involve those things, but for me meditation is quiet time. Meditation does not have to signify a religious experience. For me, simply sitting on my patio listening to nature is a meditative process. Journaling can also be a form of meditation if you like to write. Time alone in a quiet room with no distractions might be hard to find, but well worth the effort if you can. Giving yourself a period of downtime will go a long way toward reducing your stress.
While all of these suggestions sound simple, I know firsthand the struggle of getting started. The important part of managing stress is not setting unrealistic expectations for yourself. Instead of trying to do all of the above, pick just one to start with. We all have to start somewhere.