Are you living the good life in retirement, yet you feel stressed? You’re not alone. It’s fairly common for older adults to have everything they need to live comfortably, yet have underlying stressors that are causing anxiety or depression.
Psychologists say stress later in life is often due to a series of transitions that are occurring. You are no longer getting up and going to work at the same time each day. You may have downsized or moved. You may have faced the loss of a loved one or are dealing with new health concerns. All of these together pile up and cause a continuous feeling of stress.
The Stress Alarm
While stress is something everyone feels at some point, that doesn’t mean you should ignore it. Stress that becomes chronic will tax a person both physically and emotionally.
Stressed-out brains release too much of the hormones cortisol and adrenaline, which throw your system off balance. Your body may sound an alarm and turn off these hormones, depleting your energy and focus. Or, your body may continue producing an overload of stress hormones, causing additional health problems, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, and weakened immune function.
Therefore, managing your stress is vital to maintaining your health as you age. Start by uncovering and addressing the root of what is causing you to stress using this checklist of triggers:
Uncover Your Stress Triggers
- I worry about physical changes to my appearance.
- I worry about losing physical abilities (vision, hearing, balance, mobility).
- I worry about a family history of health conditions, such as coronary heart
disease or cancer.
- I worry about losing a loved one.
- I worry about having to be a caregiver for my spouse.
- I worry about who will take care of me someday.
- I worry about changes in my relationship with my adult children.
- I worry about my retirement plans.
- I worry about having to move from my home.
- I worry about having too much unstructured time on my hands.
- I worry about how I will get around in the future.
- I worry about my financial future.
- I worry about running out of money someday.
- I worry about upsetting events, images, or information in the media.
Learn How to Manage Stress
After you have identified and addressed your stress triggers, begin to incorporate stress-relief techniques into your daily routine. By changing the way you respond to stress each day, you can help reduce the risk of stress-related illnesses or conditions.
Note: If you are experiencing consistent high levels of stress, you should seek help from a counselor or doctor.
Schedule dedicated time each day to practice a stress-relief technique. You will find that some activities are more successful at helping you relax and destress than others.
Here are 10 stress-relief techniques to get started with. Try one each day to discover which ones work best for you.
- Meditate for 5 minutes. Quiet reflection is always good.
- Do a puzzle. Focus your energy on critical thinking.
- Laugh! Watch a funny movie or call a friend who makes you laugh.
- Count your blessings. Name 10 things you’re thankful for.
- Try aromatherapy. Inhaling certain scents can produce a calming effect.
- Escape through music. Play, sing, or listen to your favorite tunes.
- Do something creative - paint, draw, sing, dance, you pick!
- Rediscover a fun childhood activity.
- Drink a cup of green tea for healthy antioxidants that calm the nervous system.
- Give someone you love a hug.
Get even more ideas in this Free 30-Day Stress-Less Activity Calendar.
While the effect of stress on the body is cumulative, so are the efforts to reduce stress. Therefore, incorporate stress-relief activities into your daily routine to gain long-lasting health benefits. There is no better time than right now to get started!