Everyone experiences stress now and again, but prolonged stress can have serious health effects.
That said, seniors can be particularly vulnerable to chronic stress. Retiring, losing a spouse, dealing with illness or injury, and social isolation all can lead to this stress.
However, there are plenty of things seniors can do to reduce that stress and enjoy their lives more. Here are a few ideas.
1. Get Regular Exercise
Exercise offers many wonderful benefits to the body, from stronger bones and muscles to better cardiovascular function to lower risks of various diseases. It’s also a fantastic way to blow off some steam.
For one, a good workout leaves you comfortably tired afterward. It helps you get that stressful energy out.
However, exercise also releases hormones called endorphins into the bloodstream. These hormones offer a slight euphoric feeling and boost our mood. They’re the force behind the “runner’s high” that many runners talk about.
2. Eat a Healthy, Balanced Diet
Did you know that diet plays a role in stress levels as well? Fruits, veggies, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats can help stabilize blood pressure, give you more consistent and sustainable energy. Various other foods can lower blood pressure, help strengthen your immune system, and lower cortisol levels, reducing stress and making you more resilient against illness.
On the other hand, avoid simple carbs like sugars. These can cause a rapid blood sugar spike, followed by a crash that leaves you in a tired and potentially bad mood.
3. Get Socially Active
Humans are social animals. Even introverts like to talk with their friends. Thus, socializing and making new friends can help destress. You have the chance to share stores, crack jokes, and do activities with other people — all ways to burn off that stress.
4. Practice Calming Techniques
There are plenty of calming techniques you can try to lower your stress. For example, you could practice mindfulness techniques like meditation. This allows you to quiet your mind and slow down the millions of stressful thoughts that may race through your mind. You can pull yourself into the present. Doing so lets you observe and acknowledge these thoughts and worries you have without actually worrying.
Another technique is deep breathing. Practicing slow, deep breaths in times of particularly high stress can help you relax and calm down.
5. Get Enough Sleep
Sleep is one of the most profoundly beneficial processes for anyone’s health. One benefit is stress management.
When you get enough sleep, you have more energy, focus, and clarity for the day’s tasks. Your mood is better as well.
On the other hand, chronic sleep deprivation can trigger your sympathetic nervous system to pump out the stress hormone cortisol — among many other negative health effects.
Now, stress itself can make it harder to sleep. It’s a negative feedback loop. To help lower your stress level enough to get adequate sleep, make sure to follow the other tips on this list.
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