Stress is the body’s way of responding to the demands and pressures of daily life. People manage stress in different ways–and the way you respond to stress makes a big difference in your overall wellbeing.
But managing stress isn’t easy, especially in later years as cognitive efficiencies decline and memory-related structures in the brain begin to atrophy. Stress management is often associated with expensive retreats, time-consuming activities, and extensive resources, but the truth is that effectively managing stress as you age can be simple and accessible.
Regular exercise and eating a balanced, healthy diet are two important ways you can reduce stress on your body as you age, but what are some other ways to deal with the different sources of stress that come your way?
Increase mindfulness-based stress reduction. These techniques involve focusing on the present moment and developing an awareness of your thoughts and feelings without judgment. Meditational in nature, mindfulness techniques have been shown to increase self-compassion, which greatly reduces psychological stress, particularly in older adults.
Benefits of mindfulness include:
- Relieving physical effects of stress
- Releasing endorphins
- Enhancing mental capacity
Get outside and immerse yourself in nature. Spending time outdoors in natural settings has been shown to have a calming effect on the mind and body and can help reduce stress. Go for a walk without headphones or other distractions and let your mind wander. Sit on a park bench and observe your surroundings. Studies have shown that simply exercising in forests or in wooded settings actually reduces blood pressure as well as the stress-related hormones cortisol and adrenaline!
Surround yourself with community. As we age, it’s common to experience changes in social connections, leading to loneliness and isolation. Finding your sense of community with others who are in your same stage of life is critical to physical as well as mental health. Engaging in social activities, joining clubs or groups, or volunteering can bring a sense of belonging and warm relationships. Senior living communities, such as The Lodge at Stephens Lake, can be an excellent way to meet like-minded individuals. Finding and nurturing a sense of community can help alleviate stress and increase happiness.
Stress is a prevalent phenomenon that everyone must deal with throughout life, particularly later in life as our cells begin to break down. Although some stressors can be avoided, the truth is that we can never fully remove stress from our routines. We can, however, learn to better control our responses to stress as we age and mitigate the effects of it on our bodies. Proper exercise along with methodologies like mindful meditation, immersion into nature, and finding your sense of community are the best ways to counteract the effects of stress as we age. For more information on The Lodge at Stephens Lake senior living community, visit us online at thelodgeatstephenslake.com or call 706-307-4330.