There are so many unrealized ways to reduce unhealthy stress in our lives.  Try these:

Ping Pong: I take to the table to relax, to keep my hand fast and brain sharp AND to ‘break’ from something I am working on. It is a relief to walk away from the computer, books and pen, play a bit and come back with a fresh perspective. I find it good for creative writing and for coming up with strategies to treat patients with complex cases. It has something to do with having a razor sharp focus on one thing (in this case the ball) that probably gives other parts of the brain some time to create without pressure. I was not surprised when my sister told me that Dr. Oz recently said that ping pong is a great way to prevent Alzheimer’s disease. That makes perfect sense to me. He also recommended crossword puzzles.

Poker and Bridge: I don’t play either but I know people who do to relax, unwind, and be with others in a way in which their brains are engaged in a way that is communal and challenging. Brain chemistry is a delicate balance of neurotransmitters and hormones that are highly sensitive to outside stimuli as well as thoughts and emotions. Not a stretch to think some fun from a good game would affect it in a positive way.

Become conscious of your words: Try this. Go for 24 hours without saying something about someone that you would not say to that person’s face. It is amazing how easily we slip into gossip, speculation on others behavior, and judgmental talk and thinking. I am convinced this ‘stiffens’ the brain chemistry with negative physical effects (too tense muscles and insomnia anyone?). O.K., I know I am talking without benefit of scientific fact but experience and observation leads me to make this educated guess.

I will be using the month of August to relay other ideas about how to take stress levels down a notch or two. What are yours? I would love to hear.

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