Live With Less Stress: 8 Tips For Your Golden Years
It would benefit everyone if our golden years pass with ease and tranquility. Living a stress-free life as we get older requires practice and preparation and the following tricks and tips will help you better prepare to manage stressful situations while you move forward into your golden years.
There are so many beautiful things about your golden years such as long-term relationships and more free time to make new and lasting friendships, especially if you move into a residential living community. Learning how to keep your stressors at a minimum will help you to remain physically and mentally healthy, allowing you to enjoy this period of your life.
The American Institute of Stress has a list of the most stressful events that people will endure. Around half of their list includes situations that occur commonly for individuals. The list includes things like the death of a spouse, retirement, major illnesses, financial concerns, and even injuries. Sadly, many older adults experience a combination of these stressful situations that are on the list within the same timeframe, which can make life much more difficult. In addition to those aforementioned stressors, our bodies don’t handle stress as well as our younger bodies, making the entire stress-ridden issue the root of sleepless nights and stress-related health outcomes.
The good news is there are a plethora of productive and healthy ways to live life to its fullest and manage stress. You can live a lifestyle that offers you joy into your golden years!
What is Positive Aging?
Positive aging is a set of beliefs that highlights how our attitudes and thinking affect physical and emotional health, and wellness as we age. It is defined by the Positive Psychology Institute as “the process of retaining a positive attitude, feeling good about yourself, staying fit and healthy, and fully engaging in life as you age.”
Many cultures still pose negative attitudes towards aging which can become a self-fulfilling prophecy if internalized, increasing your chances of suffering with anxiety and/or depression. It aims to counteract this negativism by shedding light on the benefits of aging.
Here is a list of ways you can help to manage stress and prevent mental health problems in your golden years:
#1. Get lots of exercise
One of the absolute best ways to keep your stress level down is by staying physically active, plus it doesn’t cost a cent. Even if you exercise ten minutes a day, your cortisol (the “stress” hormone) levels will be reduced, and your serotonin (the “feel-good” hormone) levels will go up.
Besides, the benefits your body inherits from physical activity will cause your sleeping habits to improve and your mood will lighten up as well. Exercise has been proven to decrease cognitive decline. You’re never too old to add a few sit-ups to your daily activities. Plus, it’s always an awesome way to lose those few extra pounds or to maintain a healthy weight.
Try to get around 20 minutes of moderate exercise per day — and you can break that up into sets of ten if that is what will get you moving. Make sure you speak to your healthcare provider before starting any exercise program.
#2. Be mindful
Practicing mindfulness has become the norm over the last ten years and it is a primary tool for managing stress. Practicing mindfulness means training your brain to be keenly aware of your emotions and then
accepting them as you move on to focus on the present.
One of the most popular ways to practice mindfulness is meditation. Other mindful activities include gratitude lists, journaling, sitting comfortably, clearing your mind, and focusing on your breathing. By relaxing our bodies and quieting our minds, we can focus on our mental awareness. This will reduce and deplete your stress levels instantly and it is something you can practice at any time of the day, making it a great technique for everyone of all ages.
#3. Stay grateful
An attitude of gratitude is one way to stay positive in life. Gratitude helps individuals relish good experiences, build strong relationships, deal with adversity, improve their quality of life, and feel better in general. Each morning pull out a pad and pen and write down three things that you are grateful for that day. Either keep the list as a private journal or read it out loud to your family and friends. Either way, it is a feel-good exercise that will uplift your mood.
People express and feel gratitude in many ways. You can apply gratitude to your past, by being thankful for previous blessings and positive memories you have from childhood, the present, by not taking good things in life for granted, and for the future, by being optimistic about your outlook upon life.
#4. Build a peer community
Staying connected with your community, peers, and family is essential to your health and wellness. Being with others who genuinely care for you helps to lower your stress levels. This is one of the major reasons why some adults choose to move into residential communities or senior living communities. Residential communities not only help to connect people and provide many opportunities to socialize, but you automatically have a built-in peer group containing individuals just like you so that you can form deep and lasting friendships.
#5. Eat a healthy diet
Ah, those good old comfort foods….not so fast! Potato chips and Hershey Bars will not only deplete your stress, but they will also offer very little when it comes to nutrition. Eating healthy helps you to feel better naturally- like a sense of accomplishment. Seniors naturally require fewer calories, but they also require foods that are richer in nutrients, due to changes in their bodies. It is very important to make sure that everything you put into your body is healthy.
- Fresh fruits
- Whole grains
- Lean proteins
- Low-calorie dairy
- Healthy fats (extra-virgin olive oil)
- Fresh leafy green vegetables
Foods To Avoid
- High-sodium foods
- Packaged/processed foods
- Sugar-rich foods
Make sure you talk to your healthcare provider about any nutrition issues you may have, as there may be an underlying problem you have yet to be aware of.
#6. Design a routine
Human beings are creatures of habit. We schedule everything — breakfast, lunch and dinner, workouts, work, shower, bedtime, and up-time. Routinely performing tasks and hobbies lowers stress immensely because you are prepared and know what to expect. You will feel more grounded and centered, therefore, your stress levels will be lower.
#7. Start a new hobby or pick up an old one
This is the perfect time in life to learn new things and pick up where you left off on old hobbies. Now that there is so much free time in your life, you can spend countless days indulging in the things you want to do…not that you have to do! You can spend your days staying active with projects and hobbies, special events and activities, or just meditating on the beach. You can go outside and meet new friends or spend quality time with an old friend.
#8. Visit the doctor
It is always a smart idea to see your doctor for regular checkups but, as you age, these visits become more important. Seeing our health care team for regular check-ins acts as a form of preventative health care. It keeps you at the top of your game!
Find a Purpose
In our former years, we had a great sense of purpose like building a career and raising children. Your golden years provide you with an opportunity to evaluate your passions and interests and allow them to give you a feeling of fulfillment and purpose. Having a purpose enhances your quality of life, raises your self-esteem, and provides an overall sense of well-being. Ask yourself what you have always been passionate about. Is it writing a book, traveling, or taking a cooking class? Your ability to fulfill your passions is now, in your golden years. Setting new goals with a fresh timeline will keep you excited about your future.
Purpose, grace, and constructiveness are what lie at the heart of aging in positive ways. It is more important to love who you are than to favor your appearance. It includes being as independent and as helpful to others as possible.
***Disclaimer: This is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or other health care provider. We encourage you to discuss any further questions or concerns you may have with your provider.***
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