The best long-term health and wellbeing strategies are powered by the force of habit, so integrating helpful practices into our lifestyle is one of the keys to healthy aging. Some common examples include exercise, taking quality time out and employing mind-body techniques. When used routinely, each can serve to build our resilience to stress.
Some of the most common herbal stress-fighters are the ‘adaptogenic herbs’, such as ginseng and rhodioloa, which can increase our body’s resistance to stress, possibly by improving our mood and boosting physical and mental performance. Various pharmaceutical drugs are also available. Each of these agents has its side-effects and limitations, and are best used for limited periods when stress is most acute, with other techniques taking over as we attain greater control.
There is always more than one answer
All sorts of stress-intervention programs have been shown to be effective, from formal psychotherapy, time-management training, relaxation techniques and meditation to diet, sleep and regular exercise. But there is never just one answer: many of the best programs incorporate a number of components. Complex problems require complex solutions.
Support is out there, so get help
Some stresses cannot be managed by ourselves, alone, no matter how hard we try. Sometimes our fruitless efforts become sources of major stress. If we are unhappy, we must talk to friends or consult counselors, coaches or people who understand and care for us.
This is so important, yet ironically the very times we most need the help of others are often the times we tend to ‘shut down’, not wanting to burden the people who can help. The more competent we are, the more likely it is that we won’t want to ‘bother’ others. We are then at risk of becoming progressively unhappier and less able to cope. There are many professionals who can help us find ways to relieve or combat our specific stressors, while treating us as individuals. So get some professional help.
Be Selective – find a solution that is right for you
Each of us needs to find what works best for us by connecting with our own sense of intuition, rather than with someone else’s experience. We need to try new things and choose those that seem right for us.
Just as stress affects each one of us differently, effective stress management must fit our unique needs. One size never fits all and this is particularly the case when we’re dealing with the subjective experience of stress.
For some of us, exercise is the best stress release; for others, classical music or gardening does the trick. To suggest that all of us must do the same thing to manage our stress is to display ignorance about the nature of stress, and about the potential each of us has to find our own method for its management.