As middle-age creeps upon us, we may begin to feel overwhelmed by the amount of stress in our lives. It is a perfect time to step back and take a closer look at the lifestyle we live for finding ways to naturally reduce our stress.
Stress, by definition, is a state of emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances.
Small amounts of stress are very normal and actually the way our bodies respond to danger and challenge. If the body spends too much time in the state of stress, however, it becomes harmful. Chronic stress leaves us vulnerable to illness and depression.
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There are a number of reasons for a woman to feel stressed after 50. Personal relationships, and the complexities they bring, can be a big factor. Work issues commonly cause stress, as do financial strains. There’s also the stress of being the caregiver to aging parents, plus dealing with the loneliness of an empty nest. We notoriously stress over perfectionism and health-related issues such as menopause. On top of all that, we can add the year 2020 to the list of stress inducers.
The symptoms of stress can be physical, emotional, and behavioral.
Some signs of physical symptoms are low energy and fatigue, headaches, diarrhea and constipation, general aches and pains, insomnia, lack of sex drive, and chest pains.
Emotional symptoms can range from feeling overwhelmed, to changing moods, feelings of worthlessness, and low self-esteem. The behavioral symptoms to watch for are a changing appetite, sudden procrastination, increased use in alcohol or drugs, and nail-biting or other nervous habits.
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, keep reading for natural remedies to help you relieve your stress levels once and for all.
Chronic stress can cause major health complications for women including depression, anxiety, heart disease, and high blood pressure which may lead to stroke, obesity and other eating disorders, sexual dysfunction, and skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, and hair loss. Research even shows that stress ages us, psychologically, and also physically.
Changing your diet can have a huge impact on how stressed you feel. It goes without saying that healthy eating is always important for your general health and wellness, but it becomes essential if you are dealing with stressful times.
A simple way to ensure your diet is stress-healthy is to make certain you are getting plenty of vitamins and minerals in your food. Rather than focus on specific food groups, make sure your diet includes sufficient proteins, Omega 3 fatty acids, B vitamins, and calcium – all of which will help manage your stress levels.
Many women don’t want to hear this, but it’s time to reduce the amount of caffeine consumed on a daily basis. Caffeine contributes to poor sleep habits, and insomnia is a common precursor to stress. Cut back on the coffee or switch to decaf.
Sugar should definitely be limited in a diet that is meant to reduce stress. Natural sugars, such as in fruits, are fine but processed and artificial sugars should be limited.
Making sure to create a regular exercise schedule (and sticking to it) can be one of the greatest things you can do to ensure that you will live a long healthy life.
Any exercise will give you a boost. Studies show that a 10-minute walk may be just as good as a 45-minute workout. You’ll find walking will fill you with fresh air, or the slow movements of yoga will be like a moving meditation. Adding in more cardio or aerobic activity will give you a sense of focus and achievement. Any of these types of physical activity will produce endorphins, which will help alleviate stress levels.
Short, daily meditation can have a profound and positive impact on stress levels and promote overall health and wellness. It does more than temporarily help you relax. It works on a deep level by changing the function and structure of your brain. Meditation actually reprograms your brain to be less anxious. It may take some practice to clear your mind and focus on the present, but the process will become easier with time and take just minutes a day.
When stressful things happen, it can be easy to get caught up in the chaos that, but there’s a wisdom in working towards controlling your feeling and managing your stress in a more collected way. Mindfulness through meditation can help you to center your thoughts during trying times and give you the poise that you need to keep positive during those tough times. If you are trying to function while frazzled, you are always more likely to make mistakes and overlook important facts about the situation.
“Inhaling certain scents has been shown to have immediate stress relief effects by raising mood, reducing anxiety and aiding focus and concentration.”
Manny Alvarez, M.D.
Aromatherapy has been used for over 2000 years. Today it is easier than ever to look up information on essential oils and their benefits, like being an anti-inflammatory, helping with digestion, and helping to relax you.
Lavender oil, for example, is known for its beautiful smell. Studies have shown that these scents can improve mood, memory, and general cognitive performance during periods of use. In some cases, it is also used for PTSD.
Our days can be hectic, filled with an overdose of technology. Carve out time for yourself to find rest and relaxation.
Some self-care ideas to help relieve stress include:
Taking the time to genuinely enjoy a cup of tea has a calming effect. Tea contains antioxidants that provide health benefits and lower stress and anxiety by increasing serotonin levels.
The touch of the soft fur and positive attention given by the animal is very soothing. Physical contact and touch with animals can actually lead to the body producing oxytocin, a hormone that reduces levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Caring for a pet will give you a sense of purpose, provide companionship and keep you active.
Massage relieves the stress of knotted muscles and calms the body. Human touch on the body is a stress reducer, so when you can’t make it to the spa, have your partner massage your back or neck and shoulders. In addition to stress relief, ongoing massage therapy can reduce pain, increase energy levels and improve overall physical and mental performance.
The warmth of the bath will help sore and tightened muscles to relax. Add some essential oils or lavender to the bath before bed and help fight off insomnia. The addition of Epsom salts in your warm bath has been proven to help reduce inflammation in your joints. By relieving this pain, you can help reduce the stress that it causes.
For more self-care ideas, check out 8 Small Acts of Self-Care for Midlife Women.
Vitamins also play an important role in relieving stress. Supplements can calm the nervous system, reduce cortisol, boost endorphins, and sharpen mental focus.
You should always seek the advice of your doctor before beginning any new supplement.
Herbs have been a major part of natural medicine for thousands of years. In recent times, information has been released regarding the effectiveness of herbs to help the body. Science has finally been able to unlock many of the secrets that ancient health practitioners have known since early recorded history.
Used to help with digestion.
Calms inflammation and helps with better sleep.
Anti-inflammatory and antifungal that keeps the body’s natural flora balance.
Journaling does more than just help you record your memories and find self-expression. It is also good for your mental health and well-being.
Nearly everyone knows what it’s like to experience some form of frustration and having a way to vent this frustration is essential to how you experience happiness. Without an outlet, feelings can easily become buried, and if unchecked can manifest in some kind of emotional outburst. Therefore, having an outlet is of the utmost importance. When those pent-up feelings are out on paper, they’re less likely to become a save-point for negative emotions.
Stress will grow into anxiety and depression if not addressed. Journaling allows you to release tensions and fully explore your emotions while working towards specific goals. It offers a great opportunity to recover from your daily stressors by leaving them behind you.
For more of the benefits of journaling, don’t miss Journaling for Better Mental Health.
People are also facing higher levels of stress than seen in previous generations. Sometimes the best cure for facing issues is to counteract the bad with doing something nice for yourself. It’s possible to make small adjustments to your life that raise the quality and reduce the stress.
It’s easy to get caught in a bad cycle of staying up late. A lot of people do it, but the toll that it takes on your body over time is immeasurable. Being sure to get the proper amount of rest can be life-changing on its own. To learn more, be sure to read Improve Midlife Sleep.
Everyone has certain things, people, or situations that can cause stress. If you are keeping a journal, you will notice the days when your stress seems to be higher. Regardless of what it is, the first important thing to do is figure out what your triggers are, then work on avoiding them the best you can. This might mean avoiding certain people, waking up early so you’re not constantly getting to work late, or reducing your caffeine and alcohol consumption.
Assuming the worst or constantly have negative thoughts is a stressful practice. Try to stay focused on more positive things, instead of letting negative emotions consume you. Don’t ignore negative things that happen but learn to accept them and move on.
By implementing some changes, you will be able to control your stress with natural remedies and begin to see a noticeable improvement in your life.
Midlife stress is a common issue and can be dealt with quite well. Sometimes, just taking the time to read a book, take a walk, have a cup of green tea, or relax in a warm bath will be enough to do amazing things to your mind and body.
If you believe you are suffering from chronic stress, it is important to consult your primary care physician. Many of the symptoms associated with stress can be attributed to other ailments that may need to be looked at more closely. If necessary, your doctor can recommend a therapist to help you cope emotionally with your stress.