Nobody wants to get stressed but it’s unfortunately a natural part of life. When you’re put in certain situations or feel certain emotions that disrupt your state of equilibrium, your body responds by activating your “fight or flight” response. This is a necessary survival mechanism; however, if you’re always in “fight or flight” mode, you’re doing your body more harm than good.
The problem is that, as you grow older, you’re also faced with various stressors or triggers that didn’t exist before. For example, you may experience grief as you lose some of your friends due to disease or advanced age. You may also feel constantly agitated by the status of your finances, health, and familial relationships.
All of these can increase the risk of developing conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, insomnia, heart disease, and more. A constant state of stress can also aggravate existing conditions. If you have kidney stones, for example, stress can make your kidneys function less efficiently; this can result in the formation of even more stones.
In short, it’s crucial to keep stress levels at a minimum, particularly for the elderly. If you or a loved one is a senior citizen, here are some stress management tips to maintain mind and body wellness:
Get Some Exercise
When you exercise, your body produces serotonin and endorphins. These hormones can boost your mood and minimize your pain, respectively, which means that they’re very good for lowering your stress levels. In short, if you want to feel less stressed, getting some exercise is a good idea.
Of course, it isn’t as easy to exercise when you’re older. As your bones and muscles get weaker, your range of motion also becomes more limited. However, there are plenty of low-impact exercises that you can do even at an older age. For example, walking even just 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week can give your physical and mental health a good boost.
Another low-impact exercise is swimming or water aerobics; just make sure to do these with a guardian or companion for your safety. There are also plenty of chair exercises you can do, including chair yoga, stretches, and a simple sit-to-stand workout for your knees.
Meditate and Practice Mindfulness
Many older adults have a lot of concerns occupying their thoughts. Some might worry about growing old alone, while some might contemplate what will happen when they pass on. Thinking about these things is, for the most part, normal. That said, there are times when it’s difficult to steer your mind away from such musings; this can lead to excess and unnecessary stress.
To avoid this state of mind, it can be helpful to practice meditation. Doing this can help clear your mind and even prevent your stress response from activating too frequently. Being more mindful of the present also helps alleviate stress. When you’re aware and fully focused on what you’re doing and feeling, you’ll feel calmer and your brain will be less caught up in your worries.
Do Some Puzzles
In relation to the previous point, your stress levels have a direct correlation with your thoughts. If you think too much about negative things or matters that you have no control over, you’ll be more stressed. If this is the case, you might benefit from doing some puzzles that require you to concentrate.
Try solving crossword puzzles, word hunts, or sudoku. If you’re technically inclined or love using gadgets, mobile games can provide ample distraction. When you’re focused on a goal (even if it’s something simple), you don’t have the time to worry about things that stress you out. As a bonus, solving puzzles and playing games can provide the mental stimulation needed to keep the brain healthy.
Seek and Engage With a Community
Being part of a community and feeling a sense of belongingness can contribute a lot towards reducing a person’s stress levels at any age. It’s perhaps most crucial for older adults and senior citizens, who may begin to feel more and more isolated due to a variety of reasons; these include things like the loss of loved ones, as well as being less physically capable to go out and mingle.
Fortunately, there are many ways in which you can be more involved in a community as a senior citizen. For example, you can join a group that shares your interests. Do you love reading or perhaps taking care of plants? Do you like to knit so you can exercise your fingers? There are plenty of interest groups that you can join! You can also schedule regular phone or video calls with your family and friends to catch up.
Listen to Your Body
Last but certainly not least, you need to listen to your body when it tells you that you’re excessively stressed. This allows you to take corrective actions on time, preventing serious consequences. Some of the indicators of high stress levels include:
- frequent tension headaches
- heart palpitations
- inability to concentrate
- feeling irritable
- feeling overwhelmed by emotions
Note that these symptoms aren’t exclusive to stress. That said, when you’re experiencing these signs, it will do you a lot of good to stop and evaluate what you’re feeling. Remember that stress builds up over time, so you may not immediately realize that you’re becoming too stressed.
The negative effects of stress on the human body cannot be overstated. Hopefully, with the help of these tips, you can reduce and manage your stress levels so you can stay healthier for longer to enjoy being a senior citizen.