Stress is something everyone deals with to some extent. Older adults can experience stress caused from any number of things, but how they manage stress is extremely important. For today’s post we wanted to focus on how seniors currently reduce stress, and how they can continue to do so in a way that is good for their health.
You can take a look here, at our last blog post, on how college students handle stress.
1. Causes of Stress for Seniors
As a senior, there are a lot of life changes happening for you and your family. It can be easy to find yourself worried or anxious about the new challenges, such as…
- Financing Retirement
- Finding a Sense of Productivity
- Loss or Fear of Loss
- Social Isolation
- Staying in Touch With Family
- Managing Health/Illness (of you or loved one)
Any one of these factors could contribute to stress. A great first step in handling stress is identifying where it comes from. Doing this will help you know which method of stress-relief will be best for you.
2. Signs of Stress for Older Adults
Sometimes it can be hard to tell if you are more stressed than normal. Below are some common signs or habits that older adults often display if they are under a lot of stress. If you notice signs like this in your life, you might want to consider ways you can reduce stress.
Changes in Eating Habits
Stress can often cause a disruption in the regular schedule or cycle of eating. When you become stressed, you might experience over-eating, or a lack of appetite altogether. Some seniors slip back into old habits of drug or alcohol abuse to relieve stress. This can be extremely dangerous.
Changes in Sleep Patterns
You might be able to tell if you are stressed if you aren’t sleeping as well as you normally do. If you have difficulty falling asleep at night, or experience disturbed or interrupted sleep when you usually wouldn’t, it might be because you are under stress.
Stress can make it difficult for some seniors to remember small things, or stay focused. Increased anxiety may cause older adults to act using poor judgment if they aren’t able to think straight.
Mental stress can prevent physical relaxation, causing aches or increasing pains where aches already existed.
Lack of desire to socialize or enjoy activities that you commonly do is another sign that you might be stressed. It’s important to remember to socialize with friends and people around you – even giving them a call on the phone. Friends or caregivers might be able to help relieve stress and tension.
High anxiety can be the source of many different moods, such as increased irritability, loneliness, sadness or even depression. Be careful if you have a tendency to get depressed. The American Institute of Stress noted that seniors who have smoked in the past may resort to smoking again when they feel overwhelmed or sad, similar to what we found in our survey of college students and their smoking habits.
3. Unhealthy Ways Seniors Handle Stress
Sometimes it can be easy to resort to unhealthy ways of coping with stress. It’s important to remember that while these things may relieve your stress for a short time, they can actually harm your health in the long run. When under stress, avoid:
- Drinking Alcohol
- Dwelling on Negative Thoughts
- Eating Unhealthy Foods
- Ignoring the Problem
- Sleeping Too Much
Smoking and alcohol or drug abuse have the potential to damage both your physical and mental health. When you are under stress, make sure you avoid the above coping mechanisms and instead look to healthier ways of relieving stress, mentioned below.
4. How to Better Handle Stress as a Senior
It is almost impossible to avoid stress completely. However, when you do get stressed, knowing how to deal with it properly to promote your health and well-being is crucial. Some commonly helpful and healthy ways to reduce stress and worry are listed below:
- Eating a healthy, well-rounded diet.
- Getting plenty of sleep at night.
- Exercising (i.e. walking or yoga)
- Planning a day with friends and family.
- Playing with a pet or animal.
- Reading an enjoyable book.
- Spending a day outside.
If any of these causes or signs of stress sound familiar, don’t hesitate to take our advice and relieve stress in a way that will benefit your health.
As a senior, do you experience stress often? How do you relieve anxiety?