Changes that may occur in golden years of life can serve as stressors. Even positive changes involving family, friends, living situation, transportation, or health can be challenging to the mind and body. Luckily, there are many ways to approach stress and an abundance of self-care tips to aid in decreasing and managing stress.
Stress symptoms for seniors may take many forms, including:
- Tension headaches
- Back pain
- Stomach pain and indigestion
- Heart palpitations
- Poor ability to concentrate
- Crying and irritability
Many stressors can be aided with solutions based on the situation. For example, adjusting one’s home to assist with physical challenges. Seniors can also use cognitive behavioral therapy to help with replacing negative thoughts with positive ones.
Enjoy Your Favorite Hobbies
Hobbies bring a sense of fun and freedom to life that can help to minimize the impact of chronic stress. Spending time on an activity that you enjoy can improve your mental health and wellbeing. Research shows that people with hobbies are less likely to experience stress, low mood, and depression
- Read a book
- Play golf
- Stay social - have a conversation
Get Plenty of Sleep
Rest and recovery are essential for everyone, but especially for seniors. Ideally, you should be getting between seven and nine hours of sleep per night. Unfortunately, many seniors struggle with sleep issues and are not getting adequate rest. This may be a side-effect of a particular prescription, combination of prescriptions, or caused by general aches and pains. Getting an adequate amount of sleep is crucial for preventing depression.
Nourish Yourself with Healthy Food
Diet can drastically affect your mood. Many people think eating treats or sweets is a form of self-care. While okay in moderation, healthy snacks filled with nutrition can boost your mood and battle anxiety and depression. Experts recommend vitamin B-12, folic acid, vitamin D3 and tyrosine. Find them in foods like fish, oysters, beans, nuts, whole grains, leafy vegetables and fortified dairy products. It is important to prioritize real, whole foods, especially vegetables, fruit, high-quality meats, and healthy fats.
Make Time for Fitness
It is important to make sure you’re taking time to exercise regularly. Often when we are feeling depressed or low, exercise is normally the first thing to go. However, a consistent exercise routine will help you feel energized and capable. Additionally, exercise reduces your risk of falls and decreases your chance of developing chronic conditions like osteoporosis, arthritis, and dementia. Exercise can be a short walk or other activities that increase bone health.
Meditation is an incredible practice for stress management and release throughout our day to day lives. Sitting quietly can be difficult at first, over time the stillness will be welcomed and help calm daily concerns and overactive minds. Meditation also can help prepare the brain for stressful situations. Such as meditating for a few minutes before a doctor's appointment or social situation, helping shift your brain and body out of stress responses and into a state of relative calm.
A very simple form of meditation anyone can do is gratitude meditation. Simply listing off and reflecting on positive thoughts and things in your life can help you reach a meditative state. Giving yourself time every day to acknowledge and record the things you are grateful will have a positive impact on your life.
Simple Gratitude Meditation Steps
- Sit or lay in a relaxed posture. Take a few deep, calming breaths to relax and center. Let your awareness move to your immediate environment: all the things you can smell, taste, touch, see, hear. Say to yourself: “For this, I am grateful.”
- Next, bring to mind those people in your life to whom you are close: your friends, family, partner…. Say to yourself, “For this, I am grateful.”
- Next, turn your attention onto yourself. Say to yourself: “For this, I am grateful.”
Stress has been a daily component of many of our lives. However, it does not need to be. With a few simple tips and lifestyle changes, we can conquer our moods. When it comes to self-care, it is important to actively address your health needs as you age, even through small little techniques.