Monday, March 14, 2011
Stressful times call for simple pleasures
Dealing with life on a daily basis can be daunting, leaving us depleted and exhausted, with a loss of the precious vitality we all need so much. So what’s the solution? How do we get revitalized? I offer the following tips:
• Humor. If it is true that “laughter is the best medicine,” then we can all benefit by looking at the funny or humorous side of each situation. When I worked for Hospice, even my patients who were well aware they were at the end of life told me that they appreciated humor, and needed to “take a break” from the seriousness of life. I scour the Sunday newspaper to find funny cartoons and stories that I can share with my co-workers, friends, and family. There are numerous listings in the “comedy” section of the movie rental section.• Seek out the positive. Develop the habit of seeing the positive side of life. We don’t have to be Pollyannas — after all, bad things do happen and it would be foolish to pretend otherwise. But an optimistic outlook can help us cope with stressful situations. And there really is a positive side to every situation. Sometimes it takes a little more effort to find it.••
• Nurture your creativity. Everyone has a creative side, from which something can be produced — a tangible piece of evidence of your contribution to the world. Perhaps it is a flair for gardening, crocheting, or quilting. Musical talent may be your gift. Perhaps you can make wooden furniture, or sketch and draw nature scenes. My mother took a watercolor painting class at age 87 and is still producing lovely paintings that will become treasured family heirlooms.
• Exercise those muscles. Taking a walk is another stress-buster. Brisk walking with a friend is wonderful exercise for the body and soul. Besides the obvious physical benefits, it clears the mind as well. I recently took a walk in an area of town that I had never explored — and was pleasantly surprised to see the winter bird feeders, the melting snowmen children had created in front yards, and the door decorations that made each home unique.
Be grateful for what you have. Several friends and co-workers from Backus recently returned from a medical mission in cholera-stricken Haiti. One of them, Cindy, remarked, “I am so very appreciative of the blessings in my life.”
When frustration mounts, take time to revitalize yourself. Most of these things are free. Laugh, create, support, or walk. Your family and friends will thank you for it!
Alice Facente is a registered nurse and clinical educator with the The William W. Backus Hospital Education Department. This column should not replace advice or instruction from your personal physician. If you want to comment on this column or others, visit the Healthy Living blog at www.backushospital.org/backus-blogs or e-mail Ms. Facente or any of the Healthy Living columnists at firstname.lastname@example.org