By Mark Underwood

 In the 1970s Ricky Nelson song, “Garden Party, one of the refrains goes, “You can’t please everyone so you’ve got to please yourself.” That may ring true to you if you’re constantly stressed about making everyone around you happy.

 Have you ever wondered how some people are able to conquer worrying about everything all the time?  First off, they probably know that worry, stress and anxiety can lead to fear, tension, anxiety, anger, and exhaustion.  That’s why they’ve decided to make changes in their lives.

Some studies have shown that changing lifestyle practices can help decrease stress and improve the quality of your life even beyond your best expectations. According to the American Institute of Stress, over 110 million Americans take medication for stress related causes every week. Those numbers go up when the holidays come along. People who are already predisposed to stress often find themselves feeling blue and more stressed out than usual at this time of year.

Worry less, enjoy life more
Most of us worry about things that make us feel stressed, but some people spend an excessive amount of time worrying about tomorrow.  Someone once said “Don’t tell me that worry isn’t good for you. I know better. The things I worry about don’t happen.” Many chronic worrywarts probably wish they could change the way they view the world, but they simply don’t know how to stop worrisome thoughts.

Stress is a natural reaction to an enfolding possible problem. When we feel stressed and start worrying, those thoughts trigger an alarm in the brain, telling our bodies that something may be wrong.  The fight or flight response calls in the nervous system and ask it to respond. Hormones are released, jolting the body into action. Muscles become tense, pulse increases, and breathing increases.  Heightening the senses during a crisis is essential to survival. This is a natural and important biological response.

The problem is some people can’t shut off worrying.  Keep in mind our bodies are designed for short bursts of stressful activity, but ongoing daily stress often means that the system has been left ‘on’ to respond.  If you often feel stressed and tired, you may be getting signals that your body is over-worked. Stress varies from person to person, but it can involve, mental, physical or behavioral changes.  If you have difficulty concentrating, have headaches, tight muscles or have difficulty sleeping, these may be stress signals you shouldn’t ignore. Some people may experience a combination of signals.  Ultimately, if stress and anxiety are not resolved, it may impact your ability to work effectively. It can also increase the risk of injury and disease.

Make new lifestyle choices

  • Learn relaxation and mindfulness techniques.
  • Have a healthy diet.  When we have a healthy diet and get adequate rest, we tend to remain healthy and feel positive about ourselves. Good sleep and nutrition also help maintain more steady levels or our so-called stress hormones which keep us more stable emotionally.
  • Exercise. For people who are prone to anxiety there’s real evidence that regular, moderate exercise can have anti-anxiety and antidepressant effects.
  • Maintain a positive attitude. Stay focused on the good things going on in your life. Reflect on your successes instead of things that are out of your control.
  • Write down your worries.  Journaling what worries you may help pinpoint the real core of some problem so you can work on them more objectively.

Take time out for you.  Engage in activities that make you feel energized and rejuvenated. That may be as simple as taking a quiet walk, practicing yoga or learning a new hobby. The important thing is to find things to do that give you pleasure instead of sitting around worrying. You can manage stress by averting your attention to new lifestyle choices.  This will help you live a better life while coping with life’s pitfalls.

Mark Underwood is a neuroscience researcher, president and co-founder of Quincy Bioscience, a biotech company located in Madison, Wisconsin focused on the discovery and development of medicines to treat age related memory loss and the diseases of aging. Mark has been taped as an expert in the field of neuroscience for The Wall Street Journal Morning Radio, CBS and CNN Radio among others. Mark is also a contributor to the “Brain Health Guide” which highlights the research at Quincy Bioscience and offers practical tips to help keep health brain function in aging. More articles and tips for healthy aging can be found at

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