5 Simple Ways to De-Stress for the Holidays

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(1) Simplify your shopping ~ If you’re into “shopping ‘til you drop,” and can do this without feeling overwhelmed, go for it!  Me?  I’ll pass on Black Friday craziness.  This year, I did most of my shopping online. It was fun and easy.  My daughter sent me links for her “wish list” and I clicked on the links, ordered the stuff, and voila, packages arrived like magic. Since she lives in another state, I had some of them sent directly to her, and enjoyed Amazon’s free shipping. I also bought my hubby’s gifts online, giving him the gift of fun stuff to do together, instead of the usual clothes!  I’m giving money to my young great-nieces and nephews, which de-stresses my pre-holiday preparation even more. 

(2) Unless you’re a glutton for punishment, don’t watch the news stations on television or the Internet.  All the bad news will raise your blood pressure and give you nightmares! Instead, pop in your favorite holiday movie (For me, it’s Elf, a Christmas tradition for me and my daughter), listen to some seasonal music, or read a good book. 

(3) Remember that the holiday party is about being with your loved ones – it’s about who’s at your table, not what’s on your table.  I used to be a fanatic, baking and freezing hundreds of cookies, picking out dozens of new recipes and overspending on food and other goodies, basically driving myself crazy because everything had to be perfect!

(4) Relax before bedtime by curling up in a chair and listening to meditative music on your Ipod or other player.  This is particularly relaxing when you turn the lights down low, light some candles, and enjoy the glow of your Christmas tree lights.  (That is, if you celebrate Christmas)  

(5) If you believe in a Higher Power, another wonderful way to relax and get into the spirit of the holidays is by reading a faith-based book. My current choice is The Inspirational Study Bible by Max Lucado, which provides life lessons along with the readings. Other options include books by Sarah Ban Breathnach (Simple Abundance), Eckhart Tolle (The Power of Now) or other inspirational authors.  

Serenity Now!

Bea Boomer’s Vital Aging Project – 6/26/15

bea

Bea’s Buzz for Friday

Last Thursday Bea and her hubby dragged themselves out of bed at 4 in the morning so Bea could catch the 5:20 a.m. bus to Chicago to visit her daughter.  Arrival time in Chicago was 10:15 a.m. Bea planned on spending the whole day exploring the local neighborhood until her daughter got home from work.

The train was chugging along so smoothly, Bea texted Mr. B., bragging that she’d sure to be reaching Union Station on time! A few minutes later, that fantasy came to a quick halt, along with the train.

Just outside of Kalamazoo, Michigan, Amtrak #351 slowed to a crawl (a bad sign) then stopped, in the middle of nowhere.  The conductor announced that there would be a delay, due to some kind of incident occurring on the tracks ahead.  Even worse, he didn’t know when we’d get back “on track” to our destination.

Now I’m going to share a little secret:  Bea is not a patient person.  And as the train sat there on the tracks, Bea recalled a train delay several years before, when on her way to Chicago with family, the six hour train ride turned into ten l-o-n-g hours. Bea, a type A personality, tends to get wound up and ticked off in these types of situations.   

This time, however, Bea just happened to be reading the most current edition of Oprah magazine, and it just happened to be open to an article titled Hang Loose, which wasn’t about going bra-less.  This article was about r-e-l-a-x-i-n-g, and Bea had just read the #3 tip:  “Relax into whatever’s happening.”  (Coincidence?  I think not).  The point of that tip is that what happens in any given moment is not necessarily in our control.  What is in our control is how we deal with it.  (You know, that whole attitude thing).  

Not only that, but a very kind lady across the aisle, travelling with her husband and daughter, offered Bea some cherries and little cracker sandwiches to make the delay more palatable!  This lady was obviously prepared for this kind of occurrence, and made the best of it by being nice to others.  

This was an “ah-ha” moment for Bea, sitting on this stopped train (the delay was a couple of hours).  Instead of reacting in her usual type-A way, she ate her snacks, finished the Oprah article, listened to music on her Ipod (and managed not to sing aloud to the songs, knowing that she would frighten her fellow train passengers with her voice) and started reading a book she’d brought along.  Ahhh, serenity now. (What? You don’t remember that Seinfeld episode?  https://youtu.be/auNAvO4NQnY)

By the way, Bea had a great time in Chicago. 

For further reading:

Attitude is Everything, by Keith Harrell – find this book at Amazon.com (aka Dr. Attitude, who passed away in 2010, read more about him here)

Got the Gratitude Attitude?

Bea Boomer’s Vital Aging Project – Day 64 – 6/1/15

The other night I couldn’t get to sleep.  I’d had a difficult day at work and it kept me tossing and turning. Perhaps you’re familiar with that negative tape that continues to wind and rewind through your brain at night? Finally I managed to stop myself and put my mind to thinking about things I’m grateful for.  Not the typical stuff, like having a good marriage, an awesome daughter, and good health (though I am thankful for those things). 

No, this was all about the weird stuff.  Like I’m grateful for the sound of a train at night; for some reason, it makes me feel good.  I love cloud pictures and how they morph from one thing to another.  Frost on the windowpanes in the winter, which always make me pause to check out the intricate designs.  Ditto rivulets of water on a car window when driving on a rainy day. The smell of a freshly cut lawn. Hearing the song Somewhere over the Rainbow sung by Hawaiian singer Israel Kamakawiwo’Ole (who left this earth far too soon, in June of 1997) and of course, rainbows (especially those rare double rainbows).   

Beautiful rainbow over a rain forest mountain

Finally, I’m grateful to have the ability to get up and write down my ideas at 4:30 in the morning! 

In her book, The How of Happiness, Sonja Lyubomirsky wrote that expressing gratitude is the #1 “happiness activity.”  Ms. Lyubomirsky had the research to back up her assertions; but to be honest, I don’t need an expert to know that being grateful is good for me and makes me happier (along with helping me fall asleep).  I mean, it simply makes sense, doesn’t it?  

I can only speak for myself – but I know that when I’m taking my life for granted and get cranky or ticked off because things simply aren’t going my way, God has a way of showing me something that stops me in my tracks.  I’ll be watching the news, and see someone who has really big problems.  I’ll click on one of those FB posts about a child who’s suffering from a rare cancer. I’ll think about my oldest sister, who’s had her independence greatly hindered because of deteriorating eyesight; or my sister-in-law, who survived cancer and other health issues, with the help of PMA (positive mental attitude).  

Along with helping me sleep, gratitude for my life helps me focus on the positive, enhances my self-confidence, decreases my stress, and simply helps me appreciate the good stuff about growing older. And it sure beats the heck out of walking around with a dark cloud above my head.  

How about you?  What does gratitude do for you? 

©Bea Boomers Wellness 2015

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Living to be 100 – the Blue Zones

Bea Boomer’s Vital Aging Project – Day 61– 5/25/15 

 

sunset on Saronic Gulf of Aegean Sea near Athens, Greece

Sunset on Saronic Gulf of Aegean Sea near Athens, Greece

I’ve been hearing and reading a lot about centenarians lately. Recently in my workplace, employees had the opportunity to watch a Ted Talk video by Dan Buettner (How to Live to be 100). Beuttner pointed out that while it’s certainly not “easy” to live to 100, there are areas of the world where it is more common to do so.  He described the blue zones – places where people commonly live to a ripe old age.  And in my current class through Ed2Go (Healthy Aging), I read that centenarians are the fastest growing demographic group in the world.

One thing that struck me as I watched the video was that in these blue zone communities, there was a sense of respect for the elders (family came first, and that meant keeping parents and grandparents close, not casting them off in nursing homes) and a strong sense of community. The centenarians in these communities had a sense of belonging and of purpose.  

Lovely grandmother with her family outside their house

After all, what’s the point of a long life if you’re stuck in a nursing home or in your own home, vulnerable and isolated?  Our American society would do itself a favor by treating their elderly with respect and compassion. As individuals, we can also enhance our aging by having a “take charge” attitude toward our health and not letting those old age stereotypes govern our lives   According to health and aging researchers, we can add over a decade of to our lives, unhindered by age-related diseases,  simply by taking the measures followed by people in the “blue zones.” 

You can read more about aging in the blue zones in the March/April 2015 edition of the Positive Aging Newsletter from the Taos Institute. 

The Taos Institute 

You can get the newsletter sent directly to your inbox 

For further reading:

7 Cultures that Celebrate Aging and Respect their Elders. 

Places that you don’t live as an older person (scary and sad) 

©Bea Boomers Wellness 2009 – 2015

Lost: Bea’s Sense of Humor

Bea Boomer’s Vital Aging Project – Day 58– 5/15/15

bea

Bea’s Buzz for Friday: 

Lost – One Sense of Humor

Last Seen – May 10th, 2015

Reward $$ Offered for its Return! 

Please help Bea!  She’s lost her sense of humor. Really.  It’s causing her to take herself WAY too seriously and life seems so darned difficult!  Hopefully, she’s just misplaced it, like she misplaces her car keys and such (you know, this aging thing).  If Bea has lost her sense of humor completely, she’s simply doomed to a miserable life.

 She last saw her sense of humor while reading the Sunday newspaper. Silly woman, instead of checking out the Comics section, a gloom-and-doom headline caught her eye and just like that, her sense of humor walked out the door.

Then she noticed more bad news, and more and more and yikes, her sense of humor was running like heck down the road just to get away from Bea’s crabby self.

c166960_s  Oh, this is worse than just crabby – much worse!

Bea has to find her sense of humor as soon as possible.  Heck, everyone knows that humor makes our life struggles less difficult to bear and eases our stress.  

Laughter:

  • Relaxes us
  • Boosts our immune system
  • Releases endorphins (you know, those “feel good” chemicals)
  • Protects our heart
  • Helps defuse arguments
  • Enhances our friendships 
  • And so much more!

Bea has searched everywhere and now she’s getting desperate. There’s only one thing she can do! She needs to make herself laugh! But how?

Please help her, readers. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Need more encouragement to maintain your own sense of humor? 

 

 

 

Dysthymia: Persistent Depressive Disorder

Bea Boomer’s Vital Aging Project – Day 57– 5/13/15

I had no idea what to write about today ~ for some reason, I couldn’t sleep last night.  As I tossed and turned, I tried to come up with ideas for today’s post ~ my thoughts meandered around the labyrinth of my brain and kept coming to dead ends.  After getting home from work today at 5:15 p.m., I realized that the Healthy Aging course I registed for at Ed2go starts today, which means that I have no time to come up with a last minute idea! 

So instead, I’m re-posting an article I wrote for the Ezine Articles website about Dysthymia (Persistent Depressive Disorder). My co-worker, Fred (name changed to protect the innocent) would accuse me of “phoning it in” tonight; but sometimes, that’s just the way it goes. . . . 

Dysthymia Symptoms

Jenny, a 35 year old wife and mother, has little energy to play with her two young children.  She sleeps restlessly at night, and often feels the need to take a nap during the day.  She has difficulty in making even the most minor decisions, and finds it hard to concentrate.  Jenny often feels her family would be better off without her.  For short periods of time, she’s able to pull herself out of her mood, and she’ll feel like her “old self” again.  But these periods don’t last. 

This wife and mom is suffering from the common symptoms of dysthymia, also known as persistent depressive disorder.  Other symptoms include feelings of sadness almost every day, poor appetite or overeating, low self-esteem, and loss of enjoyment in formerly fun activities.  While the symptoms aren’t as severe as those of major depression, they last longer.  Dysthymia symptoms last at least two years. 

Causes of Dysthymia

The causes behind any form of depression can be complex.  People suffering from dysthymia usually have a family background of depression. Brain chemical imbalances can be another cause. Sometimes childhood trauma that causes chronic stress can lead to dysthymia in a teenager or young adult.  Additionally, some medical conditions can be linked to dysthymia.  These include neurological conditions, hypothyroidism, chronic fatigue syndrome, and fibromyalgia.* For elderly people, dysthymia may arise due to the challenging life changes they face as they age.  This may include chronic illnesses or physical disability, brain function decline, or the loss of a spouse.  

Diagnosis and Treatment

People who have dysthymia often don’t obtain treatment – the symptoms often develop slowly and then become integrated into a person’s life, causing them to believe it’s just a part of who they are. This is especially true for those people who develop this disorder early in their lives.  However, it’s important that persistent depression is treated. People who have dysthymia are at a higher risk of developing major depression. Experts have termed this condition “double depression.”*

If a person has been suffering from a depressed mood over the period of two years and has some of the other symptoms described above, a visit to their family doctor will help.  The person will need to provide their doctor with both the physical and mental ailments that have been plaguing them. If the doctor suspects persistent depressive disorder, he or she may start with a physical examination.  This is done because dysthymia may be caused by an underlying medical condition.  Laboratory and blood tests may also be given to provide further insight.  Finally, the doctor may conduct a psychological examination.

Treatment for dysthymia involves anti-depressants, psychotherapy, or a combination of both.  There are a few types of anti-depressants that are prescribed for this type of depression; however, the most common type used are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).  Experts point out that SSRIs tend to work well for most people and have more bearable side effects than other types of anti-depressants. These drugs don’t work overnight; it may take several weeks for them to make a difference in the affected person’s life.

Psychotherapy involves talking to a mental health professional.  This can give the person some insight about the condition, as well as their own emotions, thoughts and behaviour.  A good mental health professional can help teach the person how to deal with stress, negative thought patterns, and self-defeating behaviors. Psychotherapy can provide a person with the everyday skills they need to battle their persistent depression.  They can also suggest support groups, if needed. 

Jenny doesn’t have to live the rest of her life suffering with the “grays” of dysthymia that greatly limit her happiness and well-being.  If she takes that first step by visiting her doctor and describing her symptoms, there are treatments available to help her fight back against persistent depressive disorder and take back her life. 

Sources Cited List

*Swartz, Karen, MD. The Johns Hopkins White Papers. Depression and Anxiety. 2014. Remedy Health Media: New York, NY.  Print. 

 

 

3 Top Websites for Mental Health

Bea Boomer’s Vital Aging Project – Day 55 – 5/8/15 

Young Woman in Despair sitting against wall in monochrome

Mental Health America

America’s largest and oldest community-based network for mental health.

Founded in 1909, Mental Health America’s goal is to promote mental health by means of prevention, early identification/intervention, and care/treatment of mental health conditions

Within the site’s Living Well link, you’ll find resources for: 

  • Living your life well: top 10 tools, stress screener, fast facts about stress and more.
  • Living your life well on campus: special resources for college students.
  • Living your life well at work: work/life balance, signs of a healthy workplace, and more.
  • Complementary medicine:  alternative medicine options for mental health conditions.

Within the Finding Help link, you’ll find:

  • Screening tools for common mental health conditions
  • Available treatment options
  • MHA affiliates in your community/area
  • Tools and other resources to help with recovery from a mental health condition

The Mental Health Information link provides discussions about mental health conditions from A – Z.  If you want to make a difference, you can join MHA’s advocacy network.

Psych Central 

This website has been around since 1995, and defines itself as “today’s modern voice for mental health information, emotional support and advocacy.”  Psych Central offers over 200 online support groups.

Psych Central’s blog offers a wide variety of articles covering many topics.  Current posts included:  The Worry List, More Creative Ways to Manage Sadness and Anxiety, and Raising Boys to Become Confident Men, just to name a few.

This site also offers screening tools for a variety of mental health disorders and symptoms, an Ask the Therapist feature, daily news and research updates; and of course, where to find help when you need it.

MentalHealth.gov

The content at this site comes from several governmental sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, FindYouthInfo.gov, Medline Plus and the National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Mental Health, and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)

MentalHealth.gov links include: The Basics (What is Mental Health, Myths & Facts, Recovery is Possible) – What to Look For (focuses on the different types of mental health disorders along with information about suicide) – Talk about Mental Health (how to start the conversation about mental health disorders and get needed support) – How to Get Help – (resources for getting immediate help, help for veterans and their families, etc.)

This site also provides the Suicide Prevention Lifeline:  1-800-273-8255 and the Veteran’s Crisis Line: 1-800-273-8255 (Press 1). 

 

 

May: Mental Health Month

Bea Boomer’s Vital Aging Project – Day 53 – 5/4/15

May is Mental Health month, sponsored by the Mental Health America website. This is a subject that is dear to my heart – not only did my father struggled with an undiagnosed mental illness throughout his life (along with the additional burden of alcoholism); but I’ve suffered from dysthymia (persistent depressive disorder) in the past. 

The theme for this year’s observance is B4Stage4, focusing on early intervention for mental health problems.  

This month, I plan on devoting several posts to mental health topics.  Please help me, along with Mental Health America, spread the word about taking care of our mental health, and helping loved ones when they need it.   

Check out this YouTube video to find out more about MHA’s B4Stage4 campaign. 

Do you tweet?  Please spread the word at Twitter:  

  • May is Mental Health Month #mhmonth2015 Let’s raise awareness! #B4Stage4
  • Don’t be afraid to ask 4 help, get #screened & start the conversation early: mhascreening.org  #B4Stage4 #MHMonth2015

Are you on Facebook? You can create awareness by posting:

(1) Learn the early warning signs.  When you or someone close to you starts to experience the early warning signs of mental illness, knowing what these changes are will help to catch them early. Often times, parents, teachers and mentors are the first person to step in to support a person through these early changes. Learn the warning signs #B4Stage4 http://bit.ly/1Agy9v3

(2) Intervening effectively during early stages of mental illness can save lives and change the trajectories of people living with mental illnesses. Support @mentalhealthamerica and the #B4Stage4 campaign Get #screened, www. mhascreening.org

Visit the Mental Health America website for more FB and Twitter options. 

 

7 Mini Health Habits

Bea Boomer’s Vital Aging Project – Day 44 – 4/13/15 

Woman lying in bed sleeping

Get a good sleep to enhance your memory banks and other brain functions.

Woman relaxing on a sofa

Want to enhance your sleep? Turn off the television or computer before bedtime and relax with soothing music or meditation CDs. 

Eat a handful of almonds a day to help reduce your cholesterol.  

Senior Woman With Adult Daughter Relaxing On Sofa At Home

A laugh a day keeps the doctor away. Well, maybe not, but laughter is a great prescription for emotional and physical health.  

Wear sunscreen to avoid looking like an alligator purse as you age and to protect yourself from skin cancer.

Senior Woman Power Walking In The Park

Find time to take a daily walk. Too cold or rainy or hot to walk outside? Try a fitness walk in front of your television.  Brisk walking for 30 minutes a day is good for your heart, and can lower your blood pressure and cholesterol levels. 

Drink green tea for a great anti-oxidant boost. This beverage helps protect our cardiovascular and immune systems. Green tea may even help protect us against several types of cancers. 

How about you, readers?  What actions do you take to enhance your health and wellness?