Everyone experiences stress from time to time – stress is a natural part of life. Extreme stress or prolonged bouts of stress can cause health problems. Fortunately, engaging in certain hobbies can help calm your stress and reduce your risk for health problems associated with stress.
Stress is the body’s response to dangerous situations. Quickening of your heartbeat and the heightening of your senses are part of the body’s “fight-or-flight” response that provides your body with the burst of extra blood and oxygen it needs to take life-saving action. During times of stress, your body releases stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol, which raise your blood pressure and increase the amount of sugar in your blood.
While the fight-or-flight response can save you in a dangerous situation, prolonged stress is hard on your body. This is especially true for older adults; aging cells, declining heart fitness and reduced lung capacity associated with the aging process makes it more difficult for older bodies to sustain the hormone rush of the fight-or-flight response.
Long-term exposure to stress can put you at risk of a number of conditions, including:
- Digestive problems
- Heart disease
- Sleep problems
- Weight gain
- Memory problems
- Poor concentration
A recent poll by NPR found that a quarter of all Americans report experiencing stress within the prior month. Stress can occur at nearly every age and for nearly any reason; young adults may stress about jobs, finding a mate and caring for small children, for example. Older adults can experience prolonged stress from chronic illnesses, disability, or loss of a spouse.
Reducing your stress level can lessen your risk for developing physical and mental health issues associated with stress. There are many ways to alleviate stress, including meditation, deep breathing, and the use of relaxation techniques. You can also engage in your favorite hobbies to reduce your stress.
Hobbies to Reduce Stress
Listening to music
Listening to music for at least a half hour each day can lower your blood pressure, slow your heart rate, and calm anxiety and stress, according to Harvard Health. Research shows listening to music can help heart attack survivors worry less about their health and reduce pain in patients undergoing cardiac surgery.
Dancing is a great stress reducer because the cardiovascular activity triggers the release of endorphins, which are hormones that make you feel better. Dancing also alleviates stress by activating the brain’s pleasure circuits. The rhythm and form of dance provides a satisfactory pattern that the human brain finds appealing. Furthermore, dancing helps create a bond between people and this personal connection can alleviate stress. Psychology Today mentions an Italian study that found people who took waltzing classes were happier than were those who spent time on a treadmill or bicycle.
The rhythmic, repetitive movements of knitting can stimulate the release of serotonin, which is a hormone associated with calm, happy feelings. It seems knitting can also bring you “into the moment,” which prevents you from mulling over your problems. The relaxation response associated with knitting can also decrease your blood pressure, slow your pulse, and help prevent stress-related illnesses.
Shopping can actually help reduce your stress levels. In fact, some refer to shopping as “retail therapy!” About one-third of all stressed Americans shop to reduce stress, according to a survey by Huffington Post. Another study suggests retail therapy can even extend your lifespan.
Taking a stroll outside can do a world of good. Research shows that a quick hike can help reduce rumination, which occurs when you just cannot stop thinking about a stressful situation. Researchers think that talking a walk is a type of “positive distraction” that prevents your brain from dwelling on a problem.
Movies also offer positive distraction from stressful situations. A good movie absorbs your attention and distracts you. Immersing yourself in a movie disrupts the worry cycle of rumination.
Forest Hill offers a number of activities that can reduce your stress. Sunshine Stroll with Klare is a great way to get your stress-relieving walk in each day. Hawaiian hula dance lessons give you an opportunity to dance your stress away, while guest pianists and other musicians lull you into a state of stress-free relaxation or joyful delight. Contact us today to learn more about our community and to schedule a tour.