Finding Balance This Fall Could Keep You Healthier


by Roba Whiteley, Executive Director, Together Rx Access


As the lazy days of summer fall away and a new season approaches, our list
of «to do’s» grows bigger and bigger. Children head back to school and
immerse themselves in homework and outside activities. Adults get back to
their work schedules full-force. Before we know it, our days are filled with
many things to do and many places to be. And this can create chronic stress.

The American Psychological Association describes chronic stress as constant
and persistent feelings of being overwhelmed, worried, or run-down. Experts
note a strong association between the feelings of chronic stress and
ailments including anxiety and depression, increased risk of infection,
headaches, high blood pressure, and cardiovascular and gastrointestinal
diseases.[1],[2] Stress-related ailments are estimated to cost the American
economy over $220 billion annually.[3]

Finding Balance

The key to optimizing our health is balance — that means making time for
healthy choices that reduce stress and improve health. The following tips
may help you find balance this fall:

  • Sleep: Make sure you are giving yourself enough time to sleep. A
    hectic schedule can rob you of the time that you need for sleep. If you get
    less sleep than you need, you may be more susceptible to a chronic stress
    response.

  • Exercise: WebMD and other experts recommend a half-hour of
    moderate exercise, such as walking or swimming five days a week, which can
    increase chemicals in the body that boost mood and help reduce stress.

  • Play: The American Academy of Pediatrics has long touted the role
    that simple, unscheduled playtime has on social and cognitive development in
    children. For adults, making «playtime» in the form of hobbies or creative
    activities has been shown to be healthy for mind and body.

  • Relax: It is helpful to know how to calm your body when you feel
    stressed. Experts suggest relaxation techniques such as progressive or deep
    muscle relaxation and meditation to counteract the physiological effects of
    stress. Using search terms like «guided meditation» or «progressive muscle
    relaxation» in Google or YouTube can help you find ways to manage your
    stress.

  • De-clutter: Evaluate the people and events that are requesting
    your time. Are these requests worthy of you and your time? Will it give you
    a sense of accomplishment? Will you enjoy them? If not, are there ways to
    make room for the truly meaningful opportunities for spending your time?

Saying «no» to many requests can help reduce stress on you and your loved
ones. While refusing a request can seem uncomfortable or difficult at first,
your body, mind and spirit will thank you.

[1] MedicineNet:
on_medical_and_psychological_conditions
http://www.medicinenet.com/stress/page9.htm
What are the effects of stress on medical and psychological conditions?

[2] Scientific American
http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=stress-dangers&page=2

[3] The Alexander Foundation for Women’s Health:
http://www.afwh.org/articles/paid/chronicstress.htm

Additional Sources:

http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/understanding-chronic-stress.aspx

http://www.ehow.com/facts_4925204_what-causes-chronic-stress.html
http://stress.about.com/od/unhealthybehaviors/a/stress_sleep.htm
www.webmd.com
http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/119/1/182.ful