Throughout your life you face elevated stress levels for a variety of reasons. When you’re a child, you may feel anxious on the first day of school and when making new friends. As a young adult, getting accepted into the college of your choice or acing all your exams can be stressful. Then, establishing your career while juggling schedules and managing a household become daily stressors.
As a senior, you also face situations that add stress to your life. For instance, retiring, adapting to a new lifestyle and wondering how you’re going to fill your days may cause stress and anxiety. Or, perhaps you’re coping with the loss of friends or loved ones, or worrying about your own healthy and mobility. Whatever the reason, it’s important to properly deal with the stress in your life so you can continue to thrive and enjoy your retirement to the fullest.
The Most Common Stress Symptoms
While we deal with occasional stress at any stage of life, it becomes increasingly difficult to cope with it the older you get. This is because seniors’ bodies handle stress differently than those of younger people. Certain health conditions many older adults develop like high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and a weakened immune system are all impacted by high stress levels. Additionally, in stressful situations, your brain releases potentially harmful hormones like adrenaline and cortisol to provide bursts of energy and focus, which your brain can normally shut down when they get too high. These hormones can not only have an effect on existing health conditions, but they may also be responsible for a decline in cognition and memory.
Wondering if you’re feeling stressed out? Here are a few of the most common stress symptoms you should know:
- Heart palpitations
- Trouble concentrating
- Mood swings
- Social withdrawal
- Tension headaches
- Trouble sleeping
Coping with Stress: How to Reduce Stress in Your Life in 5 Steps
If you’re experiencing any of the above stress symptoms, it’s time to take note and make lifestyle changes that can help you keep your cool – and improve your quality of life. Here are some stress management tips all seniors should follow:
Find the root cause of the stress in your life. Are you contemplating downsizing your home? Have you lost a spouse? The first step in reducing stress is to identify what’s causing it to increase. Address the problem at its roots by writing it down, talking to someone or simply taking some time to reflect on what’s bothering you. Recognizing what’s causing you stress can help you find ways to get past it.
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. 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, even if that means avoiding your post-lunch nap.
Find inner peace. Meditation and yoga offer relaxing ways to reduce stress. All you need to meditate is a quiet space with no distractions where you can practice some deep breathing until you feel a calm settle over you. Likewise, yoga can reduce anxiety, lower blood pressure and heart rate, help you breathe easier and improve sleeping habits. Find a class that’s designed specifically for older adults so you can comfortably bend and stretch your stress away.
Take a break from the norm. Sometimes, simply changing up your routine can lower your stress levels. Always wanted to learn to paint? Find a class at your local senior center. Go for a head-clearing walk (instead of taking that afternoon nap, maybe), try cooking a new recipe, volunteer your time at a pet shelter or hospital – anything you can do to get make every day exciting and new.
Enjoy a daily laugh. A good sense of humor can go a long way in reducing your stress levels. After all, laughter is the best medicine! Enjoy some belly laughs with friends or have your grandkids tell you their favorite jokes and laugh away the stress of the day.
Enjoy a Stress-Free Lifestyle at Immanuel Lutheran Communities
Residents live life on their own terms at Immanuel Lutheran Communities, where our on-campus services provide everything you need to continue growing, learning and relaxing. Plus, our unique location in the Flathead Valley offers countless opportunities for an enriching, fulfilling lifestyle. Schedule a visit and stay for lunch, or learn more about vibrant senior living in Kalispell by contacting us today.