Published on October 23, 2017

Stress less for better health

Too much stress can do more than make you tense.

Over time, it raises your risk of serious health problems, from diabetes and depression to heart disease.

Woman relaxing under tree“And if you already have a chronic disease, it can make it worse,” says Brielle Thompson, Clinical Educator at Mercy LIFE – West Philadelphia.

If you’re under a lot of stress right now, it might seem like there’s not much you can do about it. “But you have more control than you think,” Brielle says.

8 tension tamers

These steps can help you feel like yourself again—and help protect your health. 

Move more. Physical activity is one of the best stress busters around. It releases brain chemicals that can brighten your mood.

Take care of yourself. Along with being more active, be sure to eat nourishing foods. And don’t skimp on sleep.

Do something you enjoy. Every day, set aside at least a little time for something that gives you pleasure, like reading a book or listening to some music.

Stay positive. Swap negative thoughts for upbeat ones. For example, rather than telling yourself, “I can’t do this,” try “This is my chance to try something new.”

Hunt for humor in stressful situations. It’s often there—provided you look for it.

Think big picture. Ask yourself if what’s making you upset is truly worth worrying about. Will it matter in a week? A month? A year? If not, do your best to let it go.

Take a relaxation break. Close your eyes and try to think of something calming, say a beautiful sunrise. Or take some slow, deep breaths.

Take advantage of resources for older adults. One key resource is our Day Center at Mercy LIFE – West Philadelphia. We provide a wide range of services to help older adults live independently.