It has certainly been a bumpy ride for all of us, young and old, so how can we weather the changes in the way we live?
For a start, read about the brilliant studies that have uncovered strategies to handle stress and thrive as our world continues to evolve. And how they make a difference to our heart health if we just made a conscious change.
Take a 2019 Swedish study that compared 136,637 people diagnosed with a stress disorder to 170,000+ unaffected siblings and over 1.3 million in the general population aged over 27 years.
The study found that someone with a diagnosed stress disorder is 37% more likely to develop heart disease than the average person and 29% more likely than their unaffected siblings. This alarming statistic deserves some attention, and the first thing we must do is ascertain if we have any stress symptoms.
Stress symptoms and signs
According to Harvard Medical School, the symptoms of stress in adults may show up in many forms, such as
- tension headaches
- back pain
- heart palpitations
- poor concentration
A combination of all of the above symptoms can make anyone anxious, worried, depressed or frustrated. So, what can you do to manage stress better? Here are three key strategies that can help:
1. Attend a group mind-body program.
These can help at any age. Give your equally stressed-out friends a nudge and register for a mind-body program online or book a retreat for when lockdown restrictions are eased. A study from Aarhus University Hospital (Denmark) found that this treatment can positively affect perceived stress and improve positive reframing. When followed up, the gains achieved are maintained.
2. Adopt a Pet
Consider adopting a pet. On Instagram, @myforeverdoggo is a great option for pet adoptions. Nothing compares to being home with a loving and loyal companion. Multiple studies show that pets can relieve depression and anxiety, lower stress, and improve your heart health. According to the American Heart Association’s research, pets can help reduce heart disease, lower cholesterol, and provide owners with a greater chance of surviving a heart attack. Pets like a cat, dog or rabbit make life less lonely.
3. Consider Tai Chi or Aerobics
Stop sedentary living during quarantine. The important thing is to engage in regular physical activity. Tai Chi is scientifically proven to combat stress and is particularly effective for older people to live well. At the same time, aerobics exercise can provide a neurochemical boost of endorphins, pain killers and mood elevators. So, Google up an exercise video of your choice or sign up for a zoom workout class. Being in a community (albeit online) can also be another way to encourage a sense of belonging, which is an excellent way to reduce stress.
These strategies are life-changing because they bring together quality of life and direct access to like-minded people, many of who have barely been out since the lockdown and could do with a new way of living.