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Reducing Stress for Seniors

In many ways, stress is a part of life for all of us. But for seniors, stress can have a larger effect on physical and mental wellness. 

Stress relief with puppy

Having worries and concerns is natural, but it is more important as we get older to practice stress-reduction techniques to manage these thoughts. The great news is that stress, and the techniques to manage it, are usually easy for most people to practice. Meditation, breathing exercises, physical movement, and other tactics can help seniors continue to live the best quality of life and can even improve overall wellness.

Why is it Critical to Manage Stress?

Several studies have shown that stress is linked to mental and physical problems, from anxiety and depression to hypertension and immune system complications. In fact, it’s estimated that stress increases the risk of heart disease by 40%, heart attack by 25%, and stroke by 50%. Not to mention the fact that stress can also exacerbate existing conditions – which can be very impactful for those with less efficient immune systems. 

Finding moments of joy and focusing on activities and hobbies that bring meaning and purpose can help seniors manage their stress. Fortunately, there are many more stress relief techniques that seniors can follow to help improve their own personal wellbeing. What senior clients use to manage their stress today can help better prepare them for any future stress. 

Stress Relief Techniques

  • A connection with others can help relieve stress. Seniors can call a friend or family member, have a video chat, or spend time with loved ones when possible.
  • Meditate at the same time every day or whenever feelings of stress or anxiety arise
  • Practice deep breathing and mindfulness exercises
  • Reach out to friends and family to connect and spend time together
  • Follow a consistent exercise regimen and healthy diet, upon physician approval
  • Journal or jot down thoughts and feelings at the end of each day – and be sure to take a moment to reflect on all the positive things that happened throughout the day
  • Find a virtual volunteer opportunity to give back to the community
  • Put together and execute a to-do list to increase productivity, decrease feelings of restlessness, and combat procrastination
  • Join a yoga class or practice it at home (with physician approval)
  • Listen to soothing or relaxing music, especially before bed 
  • Find a way to laugh, whether it’s by watching a funny TV show/movie or listening to a comedy album

Stress Relief and Furry Friends: Part II

Last year we wrote about bringing in a furry friend to help with the boredom of winter.  Actually, this became a very popular year for adopting furry friends.  From the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, people quickly started adopting puppies and dogs to help them pass the time.  Hopefully, we will be seeing the end of the pandemic soon, and a furry friend may still be a great idea for mental health--especially for seniors that have had pets before.

Many seniors give up their pets in their 60’s and 70’s because they don’t want to be held down by taking care of a pet when they could instead be traveling or spending time with family and friends. However, as we age we often don’t have as many chances to travel and a pet can fill a void in our lives. Taking care of another living thing often adds meaning to someone's life. They depend on you, so you get up in the morning and take care of them.  When someone cares about something they also will take better care of themselves so they can continue to care for, in this case, their pet. Elevating our own Spirit is part of how we look forward to each day.  

There is more to just caring for a pet than feeding and grooming them. They also give us a chance to get exercise by walking with our pet, cleaning out a litter box, and generally keeping up with the daily tasks created by our furry friend. In return, you get the affection of a cat or dog on a regular basis. Obviously, this affection can vary from the type of pet, but so can the amount of work you have to put into caring for them. Cats tend to be much easier to care for and less needy than dogs.




Acknowledgments

Positive Psychology

Mayo Clinic

National Institute on Health