Regardless of our age or station in life, we all experience stress. Stress management for seniors, in particular, is of utmost importance for optimal health.
Managed in a positive way, stress can be a motivator. But managed poorly – or not at all – stress can be harmful, even crippling. Aging already impacts the immune system, but stress furthers those effects, reducing responses to the flu, pneumonia and other illnesses. Plus, chronic stress is widely believed to accelerate biological aging on its own.
This is why finding ways to bring a sense of calm into our lives is so important to our mental, emotional and physical health.
Almost everyone has his or her own way to push back stress. It could be the time-tested “take a deep breath and count to 10” method, but there are many others, including yoga, exercise, prayer and more.
Practicing relaxation techniques have been shown to reduce physical symptoms of stress by slowing heart rates, improving concentration and more.
In general, relaxation techniques involve refocusing your attention to something calming and increasing awareness of your body. A few ways to do this are:
– Autogenic Relaxation: Autogenic means “something that comes from within you.” In this technique, you use both visual imagery and body awareness to reduce stress. You repeat words or suggestions in your mind to help you relax and reduce muscle tension.
– Progressive Muscle Relaxation: In this technique, you focus on slowly increasing and releasing tension in specific muscle groups. One method is to start by tensing and relaxing the muscles in your toes and progressively working your way up to your neck and head.
– Visualization: With visualization, you form mental images to take a journey to a peaceful, calming place or situation. During visualization, try to use as many senses as you can, including smell, sight, sound and touch.
Techniques to productively ease stress take commitment and practice. Many retirement-age people report handling negative stress in their lives in unhealthy ways, like inactivity or withdrawal from socializing.
Communities like The Clare provide residents with a reduced-stress environment and a program of positive ways to process stress, including social activities, exercise and many more. This, in turn, makes stress management for seniors all the more doable.
No matter what your stress level might be, there are things you can do to keep stress from controlling your life and affecting your health.