It is no secret that in our society women remain the predominant caretakers for their families and communities. They often are the primary decision makers for medical care for their immediate and extended families, while increasingly also caring for aging parents. In most cases, this is in addition to full-time employment.
These demands can lead to unhealthy levels of stress. Chronic stress can result in serious health conditions, including anxiety, insomnia, muscle pain, high blood pressure, a weakened immune system and even major illnesses, such as heart disease, depression and obesity.
Developing habits that promote health and wellness is key to preventing serious diseases and enables you to get the most out of every day. Setting aside time to spend in reflection, meditation, daily exercise or activities that bring joy can counteract the negative effects of stress.
Laughter has been shown to release chemicals in your brain that ease muscle tension and combat the unhealthy physical effects of stress. Mayo Clinic researchers say laughter can have positive long-term effects on your immune system, reduce pain and improve your outlook.
I practice mindfulness during my daily commute by thinking about at least three things I’m grateful for. Duke University social scientists say it can be beneficial to train your brain to pay more attention to the good things that happen throughout the day.
Find an easy way to care for yourself that works for you and your schedule. Small but powerful changes can go a long way toward managing your health.
Andrea Burch, MS, BSN, RN, CNRN
VP and CNO, Lutheran Medical Center