The Zone, Vol 51: Down Shifting

by The ParaDocs

March 22, 2021

The Zone Weekly with paraDocs

Are you unable to unwind at the end of a long day? Learn how choosing activities that “down shift” our stress can help us take better care of ourselves.

In Volume 51 of this guest series, psychotherapist Dr. Francis L. Battisti and nutritionist Dr. Helen Battisti explain how doing activities, such as contemplative walks, time with nature, pleasure reading and disconnecting from technology, can calm and focus us.

For over 10 years, they have worked closely with us on aging concerns and have presented many webinars and in-person workshops. Their newsletter, The Zone, is a weekly mental health and nutrition tip sheet during times of change.

In Volume 49 we discussed the ways to evaluate new information and make a decision whether we will choose to integrate this new information into our self-care regime.

This week we continue our discussion of the nine lessons learned from the Blue Zones research.  Lesson two addresses having Purpose for Living.  In addition to our discussion of purpose in Volume 46, the Blue Zone research suggests that “knowing why you wake-up in the morning can add up to seven years of extra life expectancy.”

The third lesson of the Blue Zones involves the process of Down Shifting.  Down Shifting is relating to how we manage our stress.  Stress is a part of each of our lives and when it has a positive influence, such as moving naturally, it is identified as eustress.  This term was coined by Dr. Hans Selye, the father of stress research, and consists of the Greek prefix “eu”, meaning “good”; eustress = good stress.  Distress is the negative impact from stress.  The term distress can be traced back to numerous sources and collectively it means anguish, grief, anxiety, hardship, pain or suffering of the body and mind.  What many of us don’t realize is our bodies only have one response to stress be it possible or negative.  While we think that an event like the birth of a child can be wonderful and the death of a loved one can be devastating, both events elicited the same physiological response.

The Blue Zone centenarians balance eustress and distress by incorporating stress relieving rituals into their everyday lives.  Some of these daily rituals include, for the Adventists, they pray; the Ikarians, nap and Sardinians do happy hour.  Additional daily practices may include relaxation practices, mindfulness, contemplative walks, time with nature, pleasure reading and disconnecting from technology.  The important element is, whatever we choose to practice daily to achieve Down Shifting,  that it offers us a calming, focused direction.

Key Takeaways

  • Developing the ability to Down Shift can enhance quality of life and longevity.
  • Stress can be both positive and negative.
  • There are multiple ways to Down Shift.
Best Practices
  • Daily take your foot off the accelerator.
  • Explore what allows you to Down Shift and then practice it each day.
  • Enjoy disengaging.
Things to Limit
  • Noise.
  • Doing and not Being.
  • Guilt surrounding self-care.

Allowing ourselves to Down Shift and exploring the various activities that enhance this experience offers the opportunity to become more creative, reflective, insightful, and patient.  All healthy characteristics of a life well lived.

Quote of the Week

“Be not afraid of going slowly, be afraid only of standing still.”

Chinese Proverb

About the author 

The ParaDocs

The paraDocs are Dr. Francis L. Battisti, PhD, Psychotherapist, Distinguished Psychology Professor and former Executive V.P. and Chief Academic Officer and, Dr. Helen E. Battisti, PhD, Registered Dietitian and Nutritionist. The purpose of The Zone is to provide a weekly mental-health and nutrition tip-sheet during times of change.

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