Stress Less, Live More: My Guide to Conquering Chronic Stress

older woman leaning on a wooden table, holding her hand to her head as if she's stressed.

Today, I want to chat about something that affects us all, especially those of us in the golden years: stress. April happens to be Stress Awareness Month, and boy, do we need to be aware of it!


The Cortisol Conundrum

When we're stressed, our bodies release a hormone called cortisol. Think of it as your body's alarm system going off non-stop. Now, cortisol isn't all bad – it helps us deal with short-term stress by giving us a burst of energy.

But when stress becomes chronic, like that never-ending to-do list that seems to grow longer by the day, cortisol sticks around longer than it's welcome. And that's when the trouble starts.

  • First off, it messes with our immune system, weakening our defenses and leaving us vulnerable to illness. It's like opening the floodgates and inviting all the nasty bugs and germs to come party in our bodies.
  • Then, there's our metabolism – cortisol throws it out of whack, leading to weight gain, especially around the midsection.
  • And let's not forget about our lovely friends, the joints and muscles. Cortisol's prolonged presence in our system can lead to inflammation, making those aches and pains feel like they're here to stay.

Yep, it's like adding insult to injury, quite literally!


7 Stress-Busting Tips

So, what's the solution to this cortisol conundrum? Well, my friends, it all boils down to managing our stress levels. Easier said than done, I know, but trust me, it's worth it.

By taking steps to reduce stress in our lives – whether it's through exercise, relaxation techniques, or simply finding joy in the little things – we can help keep cortisol in check and prevent it from wreaking havoc on our bodies. It's like putting up a force field to keep the gremlins at bay.


1. Mindfulness Meditation 🧘‍♂️

Set aside a few minutes each day to sit quietly, focus on your breath, and let the stress melt away.


2. Quality Sleep 😴

Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night to help your body repair and rejuvenate. Create a relaxing bedtime routine, like reading a book or taking a warm bath, to signal to your body that it's time to wind down.


3. Deep Breathing Exercises 🌬️

Deep breathing exercises activate the relaxation response, calming our nervous system and bringing us back to a state of balance. Try the 4-7-8 technique: breathe in for a count of 4, hold for a count of 7, and exhale for a count of 8. It's like hitting the reset button for your body and mind.


4. Set Boundaries 🚫

Whether it's turning off your phone after a certain hour, saying no to that extra project at work, or carving out time for self-care, honor your limits and prioritize your well-being.


6. Cultivate Gratitude 😊

Amid stress and chaos, it can be easy to lose sight of the good things in life. Take a few minutes each day to jot down three things you're grateful for, no matter how big or small.


6. Exercise 🏃‍♂️

You've probably heard it a million times, but it bears repeating: exercise is one of the best stress busters out there. Whether it's going for a run, hitting the gym, or simply taking a brisk walk around the block, find an activity that gets your heart pumping and your endorphins flowing.


7. Seek Support ❤️

You don't have to go it alone – sometimes, asking for help is the bravest thing you can do. Whether it's talking to a trusted friend, seeking out a therapist, or joining a support group, reaching out for support is like lifting a weight off your shoulders.


Goodbye, Stress

Chronic stress may be a tough nut to crack, but armed with these techniques, you'll be well-equipped to take on whatever life throws your way. Remember, self-care isn't selfish – it's essential. So go ahead, give yourself permission to prioritize your well-being and reclaim control of your life.

**Remember to consult with your healthcare provider before starting any new exercise or stress management routine.

- Brandon


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