In recent years, doctors and researchers have started to better understand how stress impacts the body. Ongoing stress can be bad for your mental and physical health, resulting in conditions like anxiety, depression and heart problems. Even after retirement, seniors aren’t immune from the effects of stress. Life changes and worrying about health and finances can be major stressors for older adults. But don’t let this stress you out, too! There are many things you can do to manage stress, which will help improve your overall health and well-being as you age. Managing stress can also help you avoid other health issues such as stroke, diabetes, decreased immune function and high blood pressure. The solution can be as simple as setting aside time for yourself every day, unplugging from technology, taking a walk, meditating or taking part in light exercise.
Read on to learn how managing stress can help you keep your body and mind healthy:
Studies have shown that staying active is good for the body, the mind and your mood. Regular exercise, whether walking, yoga or swimming, can boost your mood and minimize the long-term effects of stress on your body by releasing endorphins or ‘feel-good’ hormones. Exercise reduces fatigue, improves concentration, promotes cognitive function and produces endorphins. Our brains use endorphins as a natural mood booster and painkiller. Staying active also improves self-esteem and helps you sleep better, which in return also reduces stress.
Feelings of loneliness and isolation can cause stress and other health problems for seniors. As we grow older, our social networks tend to shrink, especially when seniors are embarrassed about their conditions. Retirement, changes in mobility and distance from friends and family can all lead to a smaller social circle. To counteract this, make an effort to stay involved in the community. Regularly interacting and sharing memories with other people will help build your social network and boost cognitive function. Joining group activities can also make it easier to do things like exercise regularly, laugh and try new hobbies, all of which relieve stress.
If you’re feeling stressed, look carefully at your diet. Too much sugar and not enough protein can easily leave you feeling hungry and anxious. A nutritious diet includes healthy fats, high-quality protein and a variety of fruits and vegetables. Certain types of foods are beneficial for the brain and can help regulate mood and keep your brain function and memory sharp. Eating organic, high-quality protein like fish, eggs, nuts, milk and beans can improve mood and brain activity. These foods contain nutrients and healthy fats that help the brain work properly by boosting the hormones that regulate mood and prevent stress, anxiety and depression. It’s very easy to turn to junk as a ‘comfort food’ when you are stressed. Yet these foods can make you more unhealthy, which will then lead to more stress.
If you’re feeling stressed, sometimes you need a quick pick-me-up. Laughter is a fast way to feel better and has long-term benefits for reducing stress and improving your health. Much like exercise, laughter releases endorphins and other similar chemicals, which can help reduce pain and instantly lift your mood. Laughing is also associated with the release of other hormones that boost your immune system. The physical act of laughing improves blood circulation and helps your body relax. Incorporate a daily belly laugh into your life by watching your favorite funny show, calling a friend who makes you laugh or reading the comics in the newspaper.
Are you taking time out for yourself every day? Be sure to schedule at least five to ten minutes per day for meditation, quiet reflection, reading or another activity that you enjoy. Daily self-care helps you slow down and lets your brain focus when your mind might otherwise be racing with worry. These activities can lower your stress levels by shifting your focus to something positive. Much like exercise, activities and treatments like massage, deep breathing and acupuncture also produce mood-boosting endorphins.
It’s true that stress and aging often go hand-in-hand, but that doesn’t mean you have to let stress weigh you down. By focusing on a healthy lifestyle and engaging in activities like self-care, laughter and exercise, you can beat the negative effects of stress to live healthier, longer.
Assisted living homes can relieve a lot of stress that occurs in families taking care of their older family members. The older member of the family will not feel as much stress about making meals, lack of social contact and taking care of daily chores. The rest of the family will feel much better when they know their loved one is secure and they don’t have to worry about falls or other problems happening to their mom or dad.