Coping stress with age becomes troublesome.
Increased heart rate, tensed muscles, perspired body, heavy breathing are signs of feeling stressed. In today’s day and age we all experience stress from time to time. We feel stressed when we find ourselves in an unpleasant or uncomfortable or unfamiliar situations. As we age, the cells in our body begin to affect the fitness of heart and declines the capacity of lungs. Hence coping with stress for seniors can become troublesome.
When the body feels stressed it releases hormones such as – Cortisol, a stress hormone that controls mood, motivation and fear. It also boost energy to handle stress, controls sleep cycle, reduces inflammation, and regulates blood pressure; Adrenaline, it is a neurotransmitter produced by the adrenal gland. A chemical messenger in the brain that is secreted when the body senses danger. It increases alertness, makes the heart beat faster and produces changes in the body – maximises glucose levels primarily in the brain; and Noradrenaline, also known as norepinephrine. It is a neurotransmitter produced by the adrenal gland that produces effects such as increased blood pressure, widening of pupils, widening of air pages in the lungs and narrowing of blood vessels. These hormones are referred to as a ‘Fight or Flight’ chemical, as they are responsible for the body to perform well in stressful situations.
There are two kinds of stress: Acute & Chronic.
- Acute Stress – The kind we experience day today. It is short term stress that doesn’t stay for long. It is usually experienced when you have a fight with your partner or driving down a steep slope or when you do something new. Acute stress helps tackle a situation that feels dangerous.
- Chronic Stress – The kind where stress becomes part of the living. It is long term stress that lasts for weeks or months or more. Chronic stress can become part of your life without you realizing its existence. This kind usually includes money problems, an unhappy life or a loved one’s death. If chronic stress is not addressed at the right time it may lead to health problems. Also, if you already have health conditions, chronic stress will worsen it.
Here are 5 ways to manage stress as you get older.
- Exercise – It is essential for your physical and mental health to exercise at 30 minutes a day. It could be your routine morning walk or some light exercises. Exercise will not only keep your body active but also improves your overall wellbeing and help reduce the symptoms of stress.
- Well–balanced meal – A nutritious meal is a must to counterbalance the impact of stress by strengthening the immune system. Vitamin C, complex carbohydrate, magnesium, omega-3 fatty acids are essential nutrients for stress reduction. These nutrients should be part of your meal. You may also indulge in some good quality dark chocolate, as it can improve cognitive function and mood. A cup of green tea – chamomile, mint, passionflower, barley tea and valerian root, will help you relieve stress.
- Relaxation techniques – Guided meditation, restorative yoga, and tai-chi are some of the relaxation techniques that will help you tune your body as you breathe. You can attend a workshop available in your area or you may watch tutorials on YouTube. You can practice the technique that suits you the best for three days a week, to begin with.
- Pick up a hobby – Keeping yourself occupied with a new hobby will help your mind focus on the good. A hobby will uplift your mood and keep stress at bay. If you are not sure of the hobby you would like to try, you can always look-up in the newspaper for an upcoming creative workshop happening around.
- Family & Friends – One of the best ways to keep stress from stressing you are spending quality time with family & friends. A hearty laugh with your friends in the park or watching television with family or telling stories to your grandchildren – being surrounded by loved ones is the key to a stress-free living.
Lastly, if you get caught off guard with stress try this breathing exercise – inhale slowly, mentally count 1-2-3-4 and then exhale slowly, counting 4-3-2-1.