Drs. Mehmet Oz and Michael Roizen say managing stress effectively can help you stay young.
Their new book, "You: Staying Young: The Owner's Manual for Extending Your Warranty," is the latest installment in their "You" book series. In it the doctors say eliminating all stress isn't the key to solving your problems because some stress is good for you.
Read an excerpt on how to deal with stress below.
Many of us have two thoughts about stress: Either you can eliminate it with a bubble bath, or you have to live with your stresses weighing on your mind with the weight of a cement truck. But the truth is that stress management isn't about eliminating it; after all, stress can be good for you. It's actually all about regulation?turning the dials of your emotions so you can best handle what life tosses at you. Stress, which is really a complex mix of emotional, physical, and behavioral responses, doesn't have to sideline you from life or send you straight to the ice-cream tub. Here are some tricks to avoid letting your worries burden?or bury?you.
ID the source of your stress. Though some sources are easy to identify, it can be difficult to really determine what's bothering you. Lashing out at your kids may be a reaction not to what your kids did but to an extra assignment piled on at work. The first step to managing your stress is pinpointing the culprit.
Focus on the moment. Though it can be hard, you'll have better stress management by being "mindful"?that is, really paying attention to the present and trying to get out of the gears of the past and the future (both of which are major sources of stress). That means especially noticing the things that you ignore, like your breath, body sensations, and emotions. One way to practice living in the moment: the body scan. How do you do it? Focus on every part of your body, which will help you to relax:
Close your eyes and notice your posture.
Think about the natural flow of your breath, focusing on air filling and leaving the lungs
Notice your toes?any tension, tingling, or temperature change?
Move to thinking about your feet, heels, and ankles, all the way up through the knees, thighs, and pelvis.
Continue with each body part?going through both the front and back of your body as you work your way up?finishing with the throat, jaw, tongue, face, and brow.
Go through your health checklist. Stress is much more manageable when the other aspects of your life?from your general health, to your sleep patterns, to your eating habits?are in good order. When you don't get enough sleep, for instance, your body produces more stress hormones, making you more vulnerable to the damaging effects of stress. Evaluate what areas in your life need your attention, and work on fixes.
Do the YOU2 Workout (found in the next chapter), walk thirty minutes, stretch, do yoga?just get up and move! Exercise, simply, is one of life's greatest stress relievers.
Do the opposite. Every emotion has an "urge to act" that goes with it. When we feel afraid or anxious, we avoid things; when we are depressed or sad, we withdraw (stay in bed). When we are angry, we want to lash out or yell. Unfortunately, each of these mood-inspired behaviors actually increases an emotion, not decreases it. However, if you can act the opposite way, you can decrease the emotion. Angry at someone? Don't lash out, but, rather, be empathetic. Depressed? Instead of shutting yourself in, go out. Rather than letting your emotions determine what you do, take control and choose how you feel.
Focus on your muscles. By tensing and relaxing your muscles, you can help relieve some of your stored physical stress. While sitting or lying down, tense the muscles of your feet as much as you can and then release the tension. Tense and relax different muscle groups of your body one at a time. Focus on your legs, stomach, back, neck, arms, face, and head. When done, relax for a few minutes.
From YOU: STAYING YOUNG by Michael Roizen & Mehmet Oz. Copyright © 2007 by Michael F. Roizen, M.D. and Oz Works LLC. Reprinted by permission of Free Press, a Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.