Unfortunately, stress is a part of life at all ages. When we’re younger, we are typically stressed about managing or establishing a career, sustaining a successful relationship with a spouse, juggling children and keeping up with household chores. When life gets this busy, many people start looking forward to their retirement, where life will slow down, and they can spend days relaxing and taking part in hobbies. However, while life may slow down when we get older, the life of a retired adult is not necessarily stress-free.
As we age, we may not have as many tasks to juggle day-to-day, but we will likely still have to deal with stressful situations. For example, losing a loved one becomes more likely as we age. In addition, we may start to worry about our own health issues, mobility issues, or declining independence.
It is often easier for younger adults to deal with stressful times, as they simply have to deal with the situation that is causing stress and move on. However, as we age, the way we deal with stress and the way our body manages stressful situations changes, and it is often more difficult for older adults to cope with stress. As such, proper stress management is essential for seniors.
How Stress Impacts Our Health
When we are feeling stressed, our brain reacts by releasing hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline. These hormones give us the energy and focus that we need to cope with the situation that is causing us stress. As we get older, our brain changes and becomes less able to regulate hormone levels, which results in larger amounts of hormones being produced, which in turn makes it harder to get rid of the excess hormones that we don’t need.
Stress hormones can negatively affect our physical health, with studies showing high levels of stress to be linked to conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure, and a weakened immune system. Older individuals are naturally more susceptible to these health problems, so managing stress levels is even more vital for seniors.
In order to manage stress, it’s first important to recognise the typical signs of stress. Once we know the signs of stress, we can take steps to manage the symptoms and protect our overall health. The following are some of the most common signs of stress:
- Insomnia or changing sleep patterns
- Physical issues such as tension headaches or heart palpitations
- Having memory problems of forgetting things more often
- Digestive changes such as overeating, indigestion, or experiencing weight loss or weight gain
- Frequent lapses of concentration or episodes of poor judgment
- Changes in mood such as increased irritability or depression, as well as experiencing mood swings
- Becoming less social or withdrawing from activities you like
How We Can Reduce Stress in Our Life
Typically, having a positive outlook on life will help us better deal with stress as we age. By finding happiness in smaller things, we will not only feel less stressed but also experience a better quality of life in our later years.
The following are some other stress management techniques and tips to try:
1. Laugh Regularly
Laughter is known as the best medicine, so it’s not surprising that it can also help with stress. Having a laugh at things each day can significantly help reduce our stress levels – try a funny movie or book, or a silly activity with a friend. Play and be silly with Ageless Grace!
2. Maintain Social Relationships
Relatives and close friends are there for us during the difficult times, giving us a shoulder to cry on and acting as a sounding board for us to share our feelings. Simply reaching out and connecting with a loved one can be one of the best ways to help ease feelings of stress.
3. Stay Active
Physical activity has many physical and mental benefits for older adults, including stress reduction. Try to get your heart rate up for at least 30 minutes a day, doing a physical activity that you enjoy, such as walking, cycling, gardening, or attending an exercise class.
4. Do Something Different
Break free from the norm and try mixing things up a little. For example, go for an early morning walk before breakfast, cook a new meal for the family to enjoy, or start a new hobby. By simply switching up our daily routine, we can reduce our stress levels.
5. Identify Causes of Stress
By identifying what’s causing the stress in our life, we are in the best position to reduce or eliminate it. Once we know what the issue is, we can talk to someone about it and think of how we can get past it.
6. Try Stress Relief Techniques
There are a number of techniques that can help reduce our stress levels. Try meditating, deep breathing exercises, or yoga as methods to release tension and feelings of stress.
We hope this article has helped give some tips on how to reduce your stress levels. For more information on this article, or the other services that we provide, don’t hesitate to get in touch with Brain Sparks. The Ageless Grace® program addresses stress. People who come to classes find they forget their worries as they laugh with their new friends, move their body safely and, importantly, target their brain health.