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Trina Justman Reichert

Engagement Lead

As the weather becomes milder in the Midwest, more people will spend time outside. You can almost feel the mood shift.

The benefits are many: Fresh air, sunshine, natural movement, the greater chance to see a friend or make a new one. One thing that may get overlooked is the stress relief, or “downshifting” that occurs for many people when they are out in nature.

Have you ever struggled with taking care of your body, mind, or spirit because it somehow felt selfish? This has been a personal challenge for me.

Throughout life, self care has been placed behind the needs of family, work and other responsibilities. Although those commitments are very important, it is vital to give yourself a breather from time to time. Unfortunately, unhealthy patterns can be hard to break.

Our bodies are amazing machines that have learned to adapt to all kinds of fight or flight stressors. However, even the strongest-willed human will eventually say “enough is enough.” Blue Zones Project wants to help prevent people from ever getting to that point.

In the five original Blue Zones, consistent behavior which incorporates downshifting into daily life has been observed.

“People who’ve made it to 100 seem to exude a sense of sublime serenity,” said Dan Buettner, founder of Blue Zones in his book, “The Blue Zones: 9 Lessons for Living Longer from the people who’ve lived the longest.”

He reports that inflammation brought on by chronic stress may promote Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. Many Americans experience these challenges at a much higher rate than those who live in the Blue Zones across the world.

The great thing is that people can start to reduce their risk immediately. Downshifting will look different to different people.

Common suggestions include exercise, spending time with friends or family or making time for a hobby. An article on the Mayo Clinic website suggests, “Aim to find active ways to manage your stress. Inactive ways to manage stress — such as watching television, surfing the internet or playing video games — may seem relaxing, but they may increase your stress over the long term.”

As I was downshifting with a new book last night, “You Are a Bad**: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life,” by Jen Sincero, this quote seemed to jump off the page, “Take care of yourself as if you’re the most awesome person you’ve ever met.”

Blue Zones Project Dodge County is a community-led well-being improvement initiative designed to make healthy choices easier through permanent changes to a city’s environment, policy, and social networks. The project has been brought to Dodge County by Beaver Dam Community Hospitals. Blue Zones Project is a division of Sharecare and Blue Zones, LLC. Dodge County is the first Blue Zones Project demonstration site in the state. To For more information, call 920-392-9408, email bluezonesprojectdodgecounty@sharecare.com or visit https://dodgecounty.bluezonesproject.com.

Blue Zones Project Dodge County is a community-led well-being improvement initiative designed to make healthy choices easier through permanent changes to a city’s environment, policy, and social networks. The project has been brought to Dodge County by Beaver Dam Community Hospitals. Blue Zones Project is a division of Sharecare and Blue Zones, LLC. Dodge County is the first Blue Zones Project demonstration site in the state. To For more information, call 920-392-9408, email bluezonesprojectdodgecounty@sharecare.com or visit https://dodgecounty.bluezonesproject.com.

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