“A man never gets so old, that he forgets how it was being a little boy.” ~Ward Cleaver, “Leave it to Beaver”

We’re all busy running on the treadmill of Life. We have so much to accomplish in the course of a single day.

There are deadlines to meet, bills to pay, emails to answer, texts to acknowledge and appointments to keep. We take care of our families and ourselves, trying to balance the responsibilities of being a good parent, grandparent, spouse, child or friend.

The speed of our treadmill gets faster as we age, when our responsibilities sometimes become more burdensome, sometimes financially difficult and often exhausting.

“There is a fountain of youth: it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will truly have defeated age.” ~Sophia Loren

During this stage of our life, the stage I call my Second Chapter, we can be empty nesters or recently retired. Perhaps we’ve changed or lost our jobs, or we’ve moved to a new location altogether.

Economic crises and a discouraging job outlook force some people to work longer while saving less. Family and friends move or pass away. Health issues arise and our free time is filled with doctor appointments, sometimes forcing us to remain closer to home.

The ups and downs of life are inevitable. But there is good news. We can begin to prepare now by learning some useful tools that will help us weather any storms that come our way.

Journaling

According to Dr. Andrew Weil:

"Therapeutic journaling" or "expressive writing" are the terms used to describe the writing you do as a means of dealing with stress, pain or chronic disease. An early study of the effects of journaling showed that it improved immune function in healthy people, and in 1999 the Journal of the American Medical Association published a study from North Dakota State University showing that writing about the stress in their lives actually reduced physical symptoms among people with asthma or rheumatoid arthritis.”

I began journaling when stress started to affect my health. Create your own journal by jotting down random thoughts or constructing well thought-out sentences. You are the Editor-in-Chief of your own work; write whatever makes you feel good. Journaling can be extremely satisfying and cathartic.

Meditation

Studies have shown that meditation can re-wire our brain through the power of thought. It has been proven to help us “de-stress”, maintain health, increase our ability to better concentrate and enhance emotional stability. The Internet is a great place to find basic instruction. There are many videos offered on Youtube or Yoga Journal.

I recommend reading The Self-Healing Benefits of Meditation by Susan Piver who recommends learning about meditation from a reputable resource. Check out her website at www.susanpiver.com.

Yoga

I love gentle yoga, and learning how to breathe in and out with full inhalations and exhalations. In times of crisis we tend to hold our breath and our muscles become tense. Focusing on our breath helps us feel more present while melting stress away.

Here is a link from the Livestrong website that describes the basics of Hatha Yoga, a popular form of yoga.

Visualization

I've learned to use visualization to help me de-stress. I picture a healthy body, visualizing how it will look and feel as I easily move about my day with an able body.

Try this technique by using your own visual images. If you want to seek a reputable guided imagery therapist, I suggest you look at the website for The Academy of Guided Imagery. To read up on visualization, take a look at this article on Dr. Andrew Weil’s website - Guided Imagery Therapy.

“Animals are people too, ya know!” ~Radar O’Reilly, M*A*S*H

Pets

It has been documented that pets help lower blood pressure, are a constant source of comfort and boost peoples’ moods.

The day our son asked us to adopt our first cat was one of the best (and smartest) days of our lives. Our cats give us unconditional love. They are a joy to have, and are part of our family. They add peace to our lives, are endlessly entertaining and can always be counted on for comfort and love.

What tools do you have in your toolkit?

Read this next: Creating a Life of Wellness Starts Today

Cathy Chester blogs at An Empowered Spirit, which won third prize in Healthline’s Best Health Blog Contest in 2014, was named #2 of the “Top 10 Social HealthMakers in MS” by Sharecare “ and received a nomination for the past 3 years as WEGO Health’s Best in Show Blog. She is a contributor for The Huffington Post as well as a blogger for MultipleSclerosis.net and Boomeon. Her work has appeared in numerous publications including Midlife Boulevard, BetterAfter50, Erma Bombecks’ Writers Circle, The Friendship Circle and Woman at Woodstock.