Taking time to practice the Blue Zones Power 9 principle of DOWNSHIFT helps Brittany Rosenberg recharge and shed stress.
No doubt about it, we live in challenging times, which can impact our overall well-being. Stress leads to chronic inflammation, associated with every major age-related disease. But in the world’s original Blue Zones, the longest-lived people have routines to help downshift and shake off life’s tensions. Okinawans take a few moments each day to remember their ancestors, Adventists pray, Ikarians nap, and Sardinians celebrate happy hour.
In the same spirit, Brittany Rosenberg has embraced the Blue Zones Power 9 principle “Downshift” by incorporating personal routines to shake off daily stressors. These include taking breaks, getting outdoors, laughing with coworkers and friends, and energizing with physical activity. In her job as a material management planner for the City of Fort Worth’s Solid Waste department, Rosenberg feels fortunate to work on projects that align with some of her top life priorities. In addition to developing sustainable systems to keep things out of the municipal landfill, she is charged with helping reduce food waste and food insecurity in the community and increasing local food sustainability. Even so, she says stress is part of life.
Her favorite Downshift routine at work is to take a break every hour. She stands up from her desk, stretches, walks down the hall and waves to co-workers, and drinks water to keep hydrated. The simple act of stepping away can result in renewed energy and sometimes, an ability to find new and creative solutions to a work-related challenge. “If I step back, breathe and recharge – maybe go work on something easier, then when I return to the obstacle, I’ll usually find a ladder or door to help me go over it or through it another way.” Whenever possible, Rosenberg also likes to take a few minutes to go outside and look at the trees and plants. But for those who work someplace where getting outdoors is not so easy, she advises having at least a few potted plants in the workspace.
She says she’s fortunate to work at a Blue Zones Project worksite with signs throughout the building promoting positive Power 9 messages. To her, the Power 9 principles are common sense, down-to-earth practices for a better life.
Identifying opportunities to tap the brakes and make time for herself doesn’t stop at the office. Rosenberg finds plenty of ways to Downshift in her new home. It’s a renovation project with space for gardening, raising chickens and composting, one of her passions. She uses the layer method with a “lazy” compost pile. “Add food waste, throw mulch on it and repeat,” Rosenberg instructs. “Turn it when you feel like it. It’s soothing. You get this nice win for taking out the food waste, turning the compost, and getting in the sun and fresh air. You keep your hands busy, and it’s meditative at the same time.” The actual gardening requires physical activity and that means Rosenberg gets to Move Naturally, another Power 9 principle. In the world’s original Blue Zones, the longest-lived people don’t go to the gym or schedule strenuous workouts. They live in environments that constantly nudge them into physical activity, without thinking about it. For Rosenberg, gardening helps manage stress and anxiety, and keeps her brain “happy.”
For Rosenberg, laughter really is the best medicine and she encourages everyone to include it in their daily Downshift routine. “In the workplace especially, we sometimes feel like we can’t laugh or be silly if we want to be taken seriously,” Rosenberg explains. “But laugh at yourself or the world when you can. When something stresses you out, if your first reaction can be to laugh and take a minute to kind of giggle over it, that helps.”