Stress is a part of life at any age. You might think that once you’ve hit your retirement years and your hectic, busy days have become a thing of the past, your stress levels will automatically decrease. However, older adults still get stressed for a variety of reasons. Health concerns – whether your own or a loved one’s – funding your retirement, finding meaningful things to do with all your newfound free time are all challenges that can lead to increased stress .
Stress and Seniors
Experiencing a little stress from time to time is normal, and in your younger years you probably thought nothing of those stressful days. However, as you get older, the way your body copes with stress both physically and emotionally begins to change.
In stressful situations, your brain reacts by releasing potentially harmful hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. These hormones jump into action, pumping more oxygen to your muscles, releasing sugar and fat into the blood to give your cells more energy. Your breath and heart rate speed up, and your blood pressure also increases. This is all due to your brain sensing “danger” or a need to fight, and once your brain recognizes the danger is over, your body will return to functioning as normal.
Coping with that stress response can take a greater toll on an older person. For seniors, too much of those hormones released at once has been linked to conditions like high blood pressure and heart disease, a weakened immune system, and even short-term memory problems.
Stress Management Techniques for Seniors
Let’s take a look at a few ways you can ensure you’re managing the stress in your life to the best of your ability:
Lifestyle Stress Management Tips
- Get a good night’s sleep. Seniors need between seven and nine hours of restful sleep every night, and studies show that those who get less than this ideal amount report higher levels of stress in their lives. Establish a relaxing routine at bedtime, turning off electronic devices, enjoying a glass of warm, decaffeinated tea, and listening to soothing music.
- Manage your finances. Worrying about money causes a significant amount of stress, especially if you don’t have a budget and way to track your spending. Know where your money is going every month so you have a clear understanding of where you might need to cut back on some spending.
- Learn that it’s ok to say “no.” Overbooking yourself and feeling like you have no down time can certainly add stress to your life. Remember to set aside a few hours, or even days, every week where you can just focus on you. This might mean turning down invitations from friends and family every once in a while, and that’s ok.
Emotional and Mental Stress Management Tips
- Strengthen your relationships. Are there family members you haven’t been getting along with? Friends you haven’t seen in several months? Reach out to those you care about most and resolve any misunderstandings. A healing conversation with your loved ones helps reduce anxiety and in turn, the amount of stress you may be feeling over the situation.
- Meditate. To meditate, you simply need a quiet space with no distractions. Practice deep breathing exercises until you feel a calmness settle over you. Meditation allows for time to clear your mind of those stressful thoughts that may be bothering you.
- Laugh often. Laughter is the best medicine, after all, and a good sense of humor can go a long way in reducing your stress levels. Watch your favorite funny movie or TV show, exchange jokes with your friends and grandkids, and laugh the stress of the day away.
Physical Stress Management Tips
- Exercise regularly. Exercise is a known mood-booster, and studies show that even just some light exercise can reduce cortisol and adrenaline levels. So, schedule a daily walk, swim, or sign up for fitness classes at your local gym.
- Stay hydrated. Did you know that dehydration and stress go hand in hand? Studies show that even just being a half a liter dehydrated raises cortisol levels. Make sure you’re getting the recommended amount of water every day, which, according to experts, is eight eight-ounce glasses a day.
- Change up your diet. Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet consisting of fresh foods like lean meats, whole grains and plenty of fruits and vegetables to help your body stay strong and better able to fight off stress.
Carefree Living at Springpoint Senior Living Communities
If you’re ready to live a maintenance-free lifestyle, Springpoint’s continuing care retirement communities in New Jersey and Delaware are ready to meet your needs! Leave the worries of home responsibilities behind and spend more time on the activities you love most, including building relationships with your new friends. For more information about our senior living options, maintenance-free lifestyle and continuum of care, please contact us today.