Lifestyle looms large as a positive factor. Studies show that if we eat healthy, exercise enough, don’t smoke, get enough sleep, avoid/manage stress, we can extend our life. Sounds good? Right?
Not exactly. As with everything in living I have learned the hard way that there are mitigating circumstances. We might be able to control the no smoking, but the others? And why didn’t I include exercise in what we can control? Because many people have diseases, injuries that get in the way of enough exercise to help them.
What about eating healthy? We can do this until the cows come home, but as we age, our bodies don’t absorb nutrients as well. Then there are the medical conditions, such as IBS, that make nutrient absorption even less.
Getting enough sleep is a big issue with us older folk. I’ve covered this in detail before, but in a nutshell as we get older we find it more difficult to get the 7 to 8 hours sleep we need.
Then there is stress – that is the biggie. Stress will directly or indirectly reduce life spans. How many heart attacks are caused by stress? How much sleep is lost because of stress?
Stress is a catchall phrase. Actually there are stressors which cause the stress and stress which includes our reaction to the stressor attacking us. Experts talk about managing stress but I wonder if they are referring to the stressors or our reaction or both?
I have learned that you cannot manage most stressors. Or should that be “control” stressors. My experience (and that of many people I know or read about) is that a large percentage of stressors come from what I call “outside.” That is, we don’t cause these stressors to well, happen to us. And despite what I have blogged about before, God is not responsible for a lot of our stress. Human stupidity and technological problems (for want of a better word) are.
Let me give a few examples. If I dawdle around and don’t take care to be ready to leave on time for somewhere, so leave late and worry about arriving late, I’m causing the stressor. If I run into transit problems, that’s not my fault. No matter what time I leave I can hit transit delays. However, if I get myself ready so I leave early enough to allow for transit snafus, I can control the stressor/stress to a certain degree.
Errors in utility bills, life insurance premiums, computer problems, continual missed garbage pickup (all of which I have experienced) are examples of human stupidity and/or technological problems causing stressors/stress.
Then there is the cancer cause. A recent John Hopkins School of Medicine study shows that only one third of cancers are caused by environmental issues and genetic factors. The other two thirds, the study shows, are caused by what they call “bad luck.” I call it the “God factor.”
According to the study, that can explain why some people who never smoke get lung cancer and some people who smoke a lot never get cancer. (See the article at http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/twothirds-of-cancer-cases-caused-by-bad-luck-johns-hopkins-medicine-study-20150102-12gs7g.html or info on the John Hopkins Medicine website http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/news/media/releases/bad_luck_of_random_mutations_plays_predominant_role_in_cancer_study_shows)
That’s scary. All the lifestyle changes to healthy won’t keep cancer way. I’m not saying to drink regularly until you pass out or smoke five packs of cigarettes a day and forget about exercising. I’m saying to live a healthy life but never take diet, exercise, sleep, etc. as lucky charms to keep cancer at bay. Won’t work.
Personally I believe that if we could keep much of the stressors and resulting stress out of our lives we .could live happier more content lives. Not easy when most stress comes from outside.
We can try to work around this stress. We can look at our over-busy lives and see what we can delete, delay or ignore. Be selective in what stressful situations you are going to tackle and what you can ignore or better yet, delete from your life. For example, last fall I evicted the horrible boarder living here. When someone pushes me on the subway (providing it is not towards the ledge), perhaps I can ignore that. The other stuff, the real crap in my life coming at me, I’m trying to deal with it one thing at a time, based on urgency and emergency – if possible. The rest go on hold, if only for a few days.
And the hell with what the people causing the stressors think about it.
It’s not easy. And I’m not sure I want to live into my 90s or even 80s – unless you are like actress Betty White. She just celebrated her 93rd and is going strong.
How many seniors are like that?
Not me and I’m still in my mid-60s and dealing with 10 health issues – those that I know of.
Maybe the answer is to try to live your life as fully as you can now.
I’m just saying.
What do you say? Comments please.
Sharon A. Crawford
Only Child Writes