When looking at the lives of the longest-living people, the one aspect that was hardest for me to understand was stress release or downshifting.
"Even people in the Blue Zones experience stress. Stress leads to chronic inflammation, associated with every major age-related disease. What the world's longest-lived people have that we don't are routines to shed that stress. Okinawans take a few moments each day to remember their ancestors, Adventists pray, Ikarians take a nap, and Sardinians do happy hour." - Blue Zones
Not because I didn't understand the concept, but because I didn't know how to intentionally release stress. Historically, when I'm stressed, I'm in it. Getting out of the stressful cyclical thinking "just takes time." But with the hate crimes, the inflation, the poverty, the water, the election, the pain of others, and daily valleys - a release is a must. We've already explored what stress does within a family's generations and our cells.
And so, with my daily prayer and outside time, I needed a few more "pressure clearances" throughout my day.
I tried quite a few suggested downshift ideas. But none quite felt right.
Conversing about a stressful situation with a friend often leaves me feeling depleted and later guilty for what I may have said.
Eating helped me emotionally but certainly didn't help my waistline. Eating an apple doesn't redirect the feelings like a thick slice of brioche with a spread of peanut butter and a mound of jam.
And then a nap...sounds nice.
But I couldn't quit because adaptive competence matters. My biological ability to bounce back from stress is influential & unknown but is (also) out of my hands. While I can change my psychological adaption - my ability to mentally & psychologically bounce back from the swerves and curves in life.
And so, like the centenarians, I sought ways to reset energy and create a more positive view of life.
But how & where & I don't have time & I was already outside & moving & all the laundry & too much sweat & homeschool & I tend to overeat with too much activity (causing a swollen belly) & & &
The only thing that historically and currently helps brighten my mood and perspective and gives me a sense of calm is legit sweating the stress out. And so that's what I've been doing the last two months. Coming home from work, the boys take a rest reset, and I reset through movement (a walk, weights, a run, dance, etc.) and a hot shower. I don't know whether it's the lavender, the water, the movement, or the combination - but once I exit our bathroom I feel renewed.
And guess what? There are no physical gains, but my body feels like it's holding less. I feel internally lighter and calmer. And so I'm going to keep up this rhythmic midday downshift. A moment to remove the energy from the morning and enter into my afternoon and evening clear and calm.
Praying that you find your reset, downshifting activity.