You know, I could be totally wrong, and I'm definitely not an expert on the subject, but I'm going to venture to assert that the reason our levels of stress increase as we get older is because we give up so many of the things that gave us simple pleasures when we were younger.
I would also assert that we get older, and we have so many more choices, that we think we have to give up simple pleasures because we're supposed to be thinking more complex thoughts.
Over the past several years I've been trying to get back to the simple pleasures I used to enjoy.
In 2010, I reconnected with reading almost every, single day for pleasure. Of course, it helped that in 2010 I got my Kindle DX, but I have definitely gotten the total worth from it by using it to do something I used to love, love, love doing when I was growing up: reading.
Like many folks, I went off to college and was forced to read things that I didn't necessarily want to read. Then I got a job, and the same thing applied there, so reading for pleasure got pushed to the wayside.
Now… no matter what I have going on, I take time out to read something that has nothing to do with school or work. Some nights, it's just two or three pages, but I do it if I'm not asleep by the time my head hits the pillow. 😀
I've also rediscovered a simple turkey and cheese sandwich, chips and apple slices for lunch.
Why'd I give that up for so many years?
You know why? As I got older, there were all these studies and reports about what to eat and what not to eat. Everything is bad for you according to this report. Nothing is bad for you according to that report. I was trying to keep up with it all, and it got to the point that trying to figure out what to eat just became another job.
So what did I do?
I started fretting over every, little edible thing and found myself not being able to consume enough calories of enough good foods to be healthy. You know, there are fat people, like me, who don't eat a lot of cookies, cakes and pies, but we're still fat, because our bodies are always in starvation mode.
When the body is in starvation mode, it will hold onto whatever calories you feed it, because it doesn't know when it's going to get its next round of nourishment. Where does the body store the calories it doesn't use? In fat cells.
Don't get me wrong. There are overweight people who eat far too many cookies, cakes and pies, but there are many facets to weight gain, not just overeating.
Something else I gave up as I got older was daily exercise. I used to play basketball, run track, play softball, and I was in the marching band! I got to college, and I decided I'd had enough of sweating my hair out (I had some back then) and being too tired to do my homework, so I stopped participating in all sports.
So… add together the fact that I don't consume enough calories to keep my body out of starvation mode and the fact that I've been sedentary since I got out of the military in 2006, and you have big, ol' fluffy me. 😀
However, I've rediscovered walking, and I'm learning yoga. These are two simple, yet effective, ways for me to get moving, and I've also rediscovered simple breakfasts, lunches and dinners. Forget all the hard-to-prepare recipes and buying foods I don't normally eat on a regular basis. I mean, whole countries subsist on pasta, rice and/or potatoes as the staple in their diets. As long as I moderate the sauces, sugar, butter, salt, etc., why should I not enjoy these foods, especially since I include lots of fruits and vegetables in my meals, don't drink sodas or keep many snack foods around the house?
My most recent rediscovery is over-the-calf socks, and I'm wondering whatever made me give them up. They are so comfortable!
Why am I driving my electric bill through the roof with a space heater when I can just put on some thick and practical, over-the-calf socks and keep it moving?! I don't need to invest in leg warmers, thermal underwear, trendy house shoes, Swankets, Slankets or Snuggies. These inexpensive socks have given me more warmth and comfort than anything else I've tried in a long time.
I've also taken to wearing an old-fashioned sweater and a skullie when the rest of my body gets cold, because it's less expensive to bundle up than the overheat the house. Did you know about 85% of your body heat escapes through your head? I learned that from a science teacher when I was in ninth grade. It's something else we simply overlook when we're trying to get warm. Put on a freakin' hat, you!
I should probably learn how to knit. 😀 Okay, I'll stop.
Simple pleasures lower your stress.
Like I said, I could be totally wrong, but that's my perspective, and I'm sticking to it.