Worry, fear and anxiety are common to us all. Most of the time, we chalk it up as stress. Everyone deals with stress differently. Stress occurs at every age, but getting older can trigger more psychological, bodily and behavioral stress responses. Whether it be losing a sense of purpose, retiring or deciding what to do with spare time, aging brings changes. Too many changes triggers stress.
Stress affects seniors in different ways
High blood pressure
As the body ages, it doesn’t adapt quickly whether it be mentally or physically to stress.
Senior citizens have options when it comes to confronting such challenges and discovering ways to channel stress and alter lifestyle can make a huge difference in health and survival for the elderly.
Practice connecting emotions
Fear, anxiety and negativity are connected with feelings. Spouses and loved ones can influence thoughts and emotions. Detach from those that bring about negative vibes and opt for positive friendships. Connecting with emotions brings awareness to self and aids in centering thoughts and feelings. Manage time for relaxing. Simply enjoy those around and plan meals with loved ones or friends to communicate daily events.
Less sleep is needed as we age, but sleep problems are common with young and old. Sleep is affected by stress, mood, medicine and even alcohol. Try to find the causes of a sleepless night. Monitoring sleep habits by writing in a diary can be helpful. Avoiding caffeine, reducing heavy, salty meals or cutting out alcohol may help with a better night’s sleep.
Different types of exercise indoors and out reduce stress for seniors. Taking tai chi classes improves mentality and helps relax the mind and body. Tai chi, a Chinese marshal art traced back to ancient India is referred to “meditation in motion.” Pilates is another invigorating exercise program. Pilates exercises strengthen and stretch the muscles providing better blood flow, flexibility and coordination. It reduces stiffness and achiness. Pilates principles deal with focus, centering and breathing. There are modifications in most exercises making them suitable for most seniors.
Boosting the immune system will add energy and reduce stress. It is never too late to alter dietary patterns. Metabolism slows down and digestion changes, but switching certain foods in the diet can make a huge difference in health, weight issues and attitude. Appetites dwindle with aging due to lack of smell or fewer taste buds so it’s beneficial to eat smaller meals every 3 to 4 hours. Remove refined flours and add brown rice, quinoa, amaranth or whole grains. Loaded with B vitamins and protein, whole grains ensure that quality nutrients are present in meals. Top salads, soups and cereals with flaxseed or avocado to obtain healthy fats. Add a half cup of beans daily for extra fiber. A quality multi-vitamin will ensure all vitamins and minerals are provided. Drink plenty of pure water to maintain hydration.
According to Chris Woolsten, M. S., medical writer and author of “Health After 60: Seniors and Friendships,” “socializing can save your life, when lonliness can detroy it.” A study by Harvard researchers found social activites came close to surpass exercise when it came to survival. Friendships reduce stress and protect mental decline.
Managing stress takes practice. Practice daily and before long, you’ll find life can be enjoyed and treasured.
“Overcoming Anxiety”; Helen Kennerly; 2009
“Health After 60: Seniors and Friendships; Chris Woolsten, M. S.; CVS Health Resources; 2009