Senior women exercising yoga and pilates sitting on chairs, following the instruction of their teacher

Stress Management Techniques for the Golden Years  

April is National Stress Awareness Month and learning to manage our stress is something almost everyone, regardless of their age, can stand to benefit from. However, dealing with stress in a healthy way can be especially important for seniors as chronic stress can increase your risk of health issues like high blood pressure, heart attack, and more, and stress is strongly linked with inflammation which can increase your risk or worsen things like diabetes, arthritis, dementia, and cancer. In this article, we’ll go over some of our top stress management techniques for seniors specifically. 

Remove the source. 

While it’s not always possible, identifying what is causing you stress and working on changing that or removing that stressor is one of the first things to consider when it comes to stress management. For example, if you’re concerned about money, some of SCOA’s programs may be able to help you with assistance. You can learn more here: https://sowegacoa.org/what-we-do/resources/.  Additionally, things like adult day care, homemaker services, transportation, meals, and even classes on technology may be able to help with other things in your life causing you stress. 

Eat well. 

The term “eating your feelings” can often be true of people who are stressed out. It’s easy to find comfort in a big bag of potato chips or a tub of ice cream, but this kind of stress eating only harms you in the long run. Eating a healthy balanced diet can help your immune system, fight inflammation, and help you feel better, even in times of stress. While we will talk more about mindfulness techniques as a whole later in the article, eating mindfully (rather than mindlessly) can be an important first step in eating well even during times of stress. 

Drink enough water. 

Staying hydrated has many health benefits, including keeping your brain sharp and helping you regulate your emotions a little better. Drinking enough water can also help you digest your food better, limit headaches, and help your energy levels. 

Move your body. 

When you’re stressed out, it can be hard to find the time or energy to exercise, but regular physical activity has been proven to reduce blood pressure, help arthritis pain, fight chronic illness, and improve your mood. While you might think you have to go for a run or a long bike ride, even gentle movements like tai chi or yoga can really help you. 

Get enough sleep. 

Sleep is crucial to keeping your brain sharp and helping prevent physical and mental illness. Sleep gives your body time to repair itself and give your brain a (much needed) break. If you have trouble sleeping, trying sticking to the same bedtime and wakeup time each day and create a bedtime routine for yourself. Making sure the room is a comfortable temperature, and your mattress is comfortable are also important steps to getting a good night’s rest. 

Practice mindfulness. 

Incorporating mindfulness practices like deep breathing, meditation, positive visualization, yoga, and more can help you to calm racing thoughts, slow a rapid heart rate, relax your muscles, and help you feel better when you’re stressed. Meditation doesn’t have to look like sitting on the floors with your legs cross saying “ohmmm” either. There are many different ways to practice mindfulness, and you can use whatever works best for you. 

Find your community. 

Many seniors are socially isolated and lonely which can lead to more stress and mental illness like depression. However, becoming engaged in your community in some way can help to prevent this and make you feel like you’re a part of something. You could volunteer, start a walking group, or take one of the classes SCOA (or another community center near you) offers to find a group of friends. 

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