Stress is a fact of life. There are different stressors as you go through life. When we’re younger we find being a teenager stressful. Our jobs can cause stress. Through the years as our families grow there are numerous circumstances that can be stressful. But by the time we become older adults and enter our seniors years, most of us feel we should have less stress in our lives. This isn’t always true. Becoming a senior and entering retirement can have its own set of stressors. No longer working and possibly not having income is stressful. We may have parents still living who need to be looked after and/or older or adult children who come to us for help. Managing stress as we age is important since stress affects our bodies differently than when we were young. When under stress our brain releases cortisol and adrenaline, which can be harmful in large amounts.
How should we deal with stress as we age?
- Get rid of bad habits. Drink less alcohol and quit smoking. Increase your intake of vegetables, fruits and other healthy foods. Move more. It will help you sleep better at night. Lack of sleep rates high on the list of items that seniors mention when they see their doctors.
- Change your routine a little. Having a schedule is good but it can become monotonous. Get out and do something different, even if it is only browsing through stores at your local mall. While you’re there go to the bookstore and look for something inspiring to read. Check out the teashop and try some different teas.
- Get a pet. While pets aren’t for everyone, there are many different kinds. Many seniors who live in condos or apartments have tiny dogs or cats. But there are also fish of all varieties and other small animals that make great pets. Paying attention to something or someone other than yourself is one of the best ways to alleviate stress, anxiety and depression.
- Have some fun. Laugh. Watch movies that have less drama and more comedy. Spend time with people who know how to enjoy themselves. It’s contagious.
Wednesday, November 1 is Stress Awareness Day. If you notice that you have signs of increasing stress such as tension headaches, anxiety and trouble sleeping, see your healthcare provider. Stress Awareness Day can give you the opportunity to learn more about stress and how to deal with it. To find more information on stress and its harmful effects, click here.