Stress and your Health

Retirement is supposed to be the time when you relax and play golf, a time when you are older and wiser and now have the answers to many of life’s questions. However, with aging comes new concerns, such as managing your health, how to fund retirement, and a general sense of “loss.” As we age, coping with stress isn’t as easy anymore. “We tend to have less resilience to stress, and older adults often find that stress affects them differently now. Stress management has been associated with increased senior health and well-being. Studies show that long-term stress can damage brain cells, leading to depression. Depression is one of the most dangerous effects of stress in older people. About 2 million Americans over age 65 suffer from depression. The first step to coping with stress is learning to recognize it. New challenges arise as you age and those challenges can be worrisome. Some common challenges that can lead to short-term and long-term stress in adults as they age. If you have suffered a loss, are struggling with an illness or disability, or are having trouble dealing with a major change in your life, know that symptoms of stress are normal and not a sign of weakness. But prolonged sadness, anxiety, loss of interest in life, and giving up activities you once enjoyed are not a normal part of getting older. They could be signs of depression. If you are struggling to deal with stress or depression, you need to ask for help from your doctor or another member of your medical team.
Some tips include the following:
Meditation is an ideal stress reliever for seniors in that it requires no special equipment or physical ability, can be practiced in a variety of settings, and provides excellent relief from stress.
Solving Sudoku or crossword puzzles, or working on other thinking games can provide mental stimulation akin to ‘brain exercise.’ Because these games require focused concentration, they can provide helpful distraction for those who tend to ruminate over stressors, plus the benefits of mental stimulation.
Get regular exercise. Exercise releases hormones that help you fight off stress and depression. Exercise can improve your sense of well-being.
Put things in perspective. Accept that there are some things you just can’t control—try to see the positive aspects of change. Solve whatever problems you can and let go of the rest. Also, don’t forget the value of humor.
Socializing often, too much time alone means too much time reflecting on the past or worrying about the future. Being around loved ones and interacting with people is a great way to relax, lift your mood and keep you connected to the present moment. The purposeful act of volunteering can make you feel valued and help put your own stressors into perspective.

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