Stress Management in Seniors
Stress is a part of life at any age. When you’re younger, daily stressors include things like managing and establishing your career, juggling your children and spouse’s schedules, and making sure your household is running smoothly. This is why so many people look forward to their retirement years where they have days full of possibility and relaxation. However, older adults still face stressful situations as they age. For instance, coping with the loss of a loved one. Or, some seniors worry about a possible decline in their health, mobility, and independence.
Studies have shown that high levels of stress are linked to conditions like heart disease, high blood pressure, and a weakened immune system. As older individuals are already more susceptible to these health problems, managing stress levels becomes even more important. This makes it essential to be able to recognize the most common signs of stress, so you can not only find some relief but also protect your overall health. These signs include:
- Experiencing mood swings, increased irritability, or depression
- Becoming forgetful, experiencing memory problems
- Lacking concentration or exhibiting poor judgment
- Changes in sleeping patterns or insomnia
- Withdrawing socially or from activities you once enjoyed
- Having frequent tension headaches or heart palpitations
- Overeating, frequent indigestion, weight loss or gain
So how do we eliminate this stress and ensure a vibrant, healthy life? While they cannot be entirely eliminated, we can learn to control our reactions to mitigate the negative effects of stress on the body.
A sense of mindfulness is one of our key ways of coping with stress. To quiet a busy mind and become more mindful of the present moment means we’re less caught up in the past and we might our anxiety about the future. We should appreciate the ‘now’ while also remembering our emotions and opinions and welcoming them.
Mindfulness is especially important in the face of stress and anxiety, where many of us turn to modern medicine for the answers. This will not necessarily solve your problems; and at best it will only mask its symptoms. Mindfulness will help you get to the root and face your problems and inner conflict. Practice finding positives in a situation or looking at it from a different angle to form a more universal opinion, or even working with therapists, and you may find that your stress response is triggered less.
In addition to physical benefits like increasing lung capacity, bone density and overall longevity, exercise has a distinct impact on brain health, where most of our stress originates. Brain chemicals or neurotransmitters are responsible for how we feel, physically as well as mentally. Regular exercise stimulates the production of brain chemicals – dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin, which decreases mood disorder symptoms, reduces stress, and gives a feeling of calmness and relaxation.
Examples of exercises for seniors include:
- Tai Chi
3) Make healthy lifestyle changes.
It’s important to take good care of your mind, body and soul. Exercise is a well-known mood booster, so find an activity you enjoy and get your heart rate up for 30 minutes a day. Drink less alcohol and quit smoking. Also, eliminate processed foods from your diet, and eat fresh, healthy foods like lean meats, fruits and vegetables. Aim for a solid eight hours of sleep every night, too.
4) Take Care Of Yourself
Ultimately taking care of yourself is important. Develop healthy eating habits and don’t neglect your rest. A good night’s sleep can revive your body, mind, and spirit. Daily exercise can give you a sense of accomplishment and help to refresh your mood. It’s also important to maintain strong social connections with friends and loved ones provide a shoulder to cry on during difficult times, and sometimes simply sharing your feelings with others helps ease some of the stress you’re going through.
Whenever you feel like you are starting to fall into the rut of stressful habits, switch up your regular routine try spending some time outdoors. Even a few moments to step outside and enjoying the sun can make a difference.
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