48 brilliant stress management
From time to time, medically recommended safe limits are
revised. Keep reviewing these and make sensible choices. Avoid
binge-drinking and keep your average consumption within safe
limits. Don’t go more than a few days without taking a day or
two off completely, to give your liver some time to recover.
In his book Aging Well George Vaillant describes seven factors
that promote successful physical and emotional ageing: lack of
tobacco and alcohol abuse, an adaptive coping style, maintaining
healthy weight, exercise, a sustained loving relationship, and
years of education. Surprisingly, his research found no evidence
that stress levels are a relevant factor. But look more closely and
in the list you will see ‘an adaptive coping style’. People who can
handle stress well do indeed have an advantage.
Almeda County Study
The biggest survey of how life outcomes link to behaviour is
known as the Almeda County Study, in which Dr Nedra Belloc
and Dr Lester Breslow studied the lives of 7,000 people. Their
results were very similar to George Vaillant’s. Could it be that,
together, these studies give a good prescription for controlling
your physical response to stress?
Table 2.1 Belloc & Breslow’s seven health factors for longevity
1 Sleep 7 to 8 hours per day
2 No eating between meals
3 Eat breakfast regularly
4 Maintain proper weight
5 Regular exercise
6 Moderate or no use of alcohol
7 No smoking
Control your physical response to stress 49
If you have alcohol-related problems, Alcoholics Anonymous are a good
source of help: www.alcoholics-anonymous.org.uk
The Alexander Technique is unregulated in the UK. However, The
Society of Teachers of The Alexander Technique (www.stat.org.uk) is
Chiropractors in the UK are regulated by The General Chiropractic
To learn about Ki Aikido in the UK, contact the Ki Federation of Great
To give up smoking in the UK, start with the NHS SmokeFree website:
Osteopaths in the UK are regulated by The General Osteopathic
If you improve your posture, you can reduce both the feelings
of stress and the damage and pain that tensed-up muscles can
cause your body.
Relaxation and sleep are vital to controlling your stress. Use
techniques like meditation, and prioritise sleep, to ensure
you are well rested and have a clear perspective on your
Exploit the ‘Felicity factor’ – happier people have better lives.
Exercise is important to build up strength, stamina and
suppleness, and reinforce your reserves against stress – it also
helps your sleeping. If you aren’t keen on sport, there are
plenty of alternatives.
50 brilliant stress management
You are what you eat, so make careful choices about what you
put into your body.
Healthy ageing is not a matter of chance or accident; you can
stack the odds in your favour, with the right behaviours.