Stress is a part of everyday life – even for seniors. In your retirement years, you trade the stresses of working a job and raising a family for the stresses of finding a new purpose and coping with loss.
Finding the source of the stress can be a challenge, but one thing is for sure: stress can be harmful to your health. Here are seven ways seniors can better manager their stress.
Meditation is the go-to “prescription” for stress, and there’s a good reason for that: it works.
One research study published in the Frontiers of Human Neuroscience looked at the effects of meditation and yoga on stress and anxiety. Participants took part in a 3-month yoga and meditation retreat that involved daily meditation and yoga practices along with a vegetarian diet.
Researchers assessed the participants before and after the retreat. The data showed that the combination of meditation and yoga decreased self-reported depression and anxiety while increasing mindfulness. There were also increases in the plasma levels of BDNF, which plays an important role in memory and learning.
They also found that participants were better able to handle stress.
Meditation takes some practice, but doesn’t require any special equipment. All you need is time and a quiet space.
2. Quality Time with Loved Ones
Many seniors battle with loneliness and isolation, which can bring on a new kind of stress. Spending quality time with loved ones can help ease that stress. Laughter is healing and can help you forget about the things that are worrying you.
It’s important to stay social in your retirement years. Spending time with friends and family can help stave off depression and keep you sharp.
3. Cognitive Puzzles
Crossword and Sudoku puzzles exercise the mind and also require you to stay focused. That concentration can serve as a distraction for seniors who tend to dwell on stressors.
Cognitive puzzles also help keep the mind sharp and provide mental stimulation, both of which are important for mental health as we age. From the crossword puzzle in the newspaper to online games, there are many fun ways to exercise your brain.
4. Breathing Exercises
Breathing exercises can provide immediate relief from stress. They can be done anywhere, anytime and without any equipment.
Focusing on your breath will help alleviate tension while calming your mind.
Here’s a simple exercise to try:
- Close your eyes.
- Take 10 deep breaths, inhaling and exhaling slowly.
- Focus on your breath with each inhalation and exhalation.
Harvard Health recommends doing 10-20 minutes of deep breathing each day to fight the effects of stress.
Yoga acts as a full mind-body de-stressor. Not only does it help improve mindfulness, but it also helps you become aware of the sensations in your body. Improving the mind-body connection can help you discover the source of your stress and provide you with the right tools to enjoy immediate relief.
Try taking a local beginner’s class. Hatha yoga is therapeutic and ideal for active seniors.
Staying active in general will help keep stress at bay, as exercise triggers the release of stress-soothing endorphins.
6. Get Outside
Spending time in nature can help alleviate stress, and the effects are immediate. A study from the University of Minnesota found that being outdoors in nature (not in the city) can lower cortisol levels, a hormone associated with stress. A stroll through the park can help get your body moving and give you the benefits of spending time in nature.
Gardening is also a great way to connect with nature right in your own backyard. Many seniors (and people of all ages) find that caring for a garden provides a renewed sense of life and purpose. Gardening can also be a calming experience.
7. Listen to Music
Music has the power to transform your emotions. Listening to calming music can instantly alleviate your stress, helping you move into a calmer state.
Try listening to music while cleaning the house, preparing dinner or reading the morning newspaper. Slow or meditative music is best for alleviating stress. Many seniors prefer classical music, but you can also find nature-inspired tunes, like those from Dan Gibson’s Solitudes collection.
Use these seven tips to help alleviate stress. Don’t be afraid to talk about the things that are stressing you out, whether it’s with a loved one or a professional therapist. Sometimes, simply talking about your emotions helps you let go of them.