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Older Adult Wellness: Down-Shift

Published: Thursday, March 13, 2014 11:14 a.m. CDT

Whether you’re retired and carefree or at the peak of your career and working more than you should, taking time to down-shift is vital to optimal well-being. Down-shifting can look different from person to person depending on stages of life and personalities. For a career-driven executive, down-shifting may need to be a couple of hours of “digital detox” each week. For a retiree, down-shifting could be taking time each day to reflect and be grateful.

Without giving ourselves dedicated time to unwind, stress can build up to become a true problem. Learning how to handle stress before it handles you is the key to maintaining a healthy life.

Taking time to down-shift is essential not only to fighting off stress-related chronic conditions, but also to simplifying and enjoying life. If you want to start getting a grip on your stress levels or experience a simplified life, commit to just one of the following list of six healthy behaviors. Sticking to even one of them can help you feel better instantly.

Sleep Soundly. Quality is as important as quantity when it comes to sleep. Improve your chances for a solid night of sleep by keeping the room at a cool temperature, turning off the TV, cell phone, and digital clocks. Try to go to bed and wake up around the same time each day to give your body a routine.

Create a Relax Room. Find space in your house that you can dedicate to relaxing. Set up a comfy chair with pillows. Place lamps, candles, and plants around the room to create a soothing environment. Spend time each day in the space to down-shift.

Laugh Loudly. A good laugh goes a long way to decompress. Sit down to watch a funny show or movie. Invite a friend and laugh until your cheeks are tired and your belly hurts.

Set Aside Unwind Time. Each day, set aside time to relax and refresh. Turn off all screens —phones, tablets, and TVs. Reflect on your day and everything for which you are grateful.

Friends and Family First. Spend time investing in important relationships. Grab coffee with a friend or call a family member to catch up on life.

Protect Your Day Off. Make sure your day off is actually your day off. Rather than rushing to fill up your schedule, protect your day off as a relaxing day for you. Try to run errands and do chores on other days so you have more down time on your day off.

The way to change the effects of stress on your life isn’t to annihilate stress itself, or completely change your circumstance — it’s to change the way we approach and interpret the events around us. So however you choose, make sure you take time in your life to down-shift in a way that nurtures your mind, body and spirit.

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