We often like to think about retirement as being a stress free vacation – a much deserved rest and relaxation after decades of hard work. However, stress can hit us at any age and in fact, the over 60s are more prone than most other generations to it. These feelings and pressures often develop due to growing health problems, reduced mobility, and financial problems.
These feelings can profoundly affect our bodies and our mental health. When we are younger, our bodies are better able to rebound from setbacks and we feel like there are options, chances to turn things around, and most importantly maybe – financial options. As we age, we feel these things lessen – children leave, friends and family pass away, and we become lonelier. This can lead to health problems such as chest pains, asthma, digestive problems, and mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and clouded thinking.
How Stress Negatively Affects Our Bodies
At least 43% of adults in America have experienced health problems relating to stress and it is estimated that up to 90% of doctor visits ultimately stem from stress related problems. When we think of stress, we imagine the emotional and psychological tolls which can lead to anxiety, depression, anger management issues, and suicidal thoughts. However, there is a vast array of physical manifestations too such as:
- Skin blotches and breakouts.
- Hair loss
- High blood pressure
- High blood sugar
- Digestive problems and problematic bowel disorders
- Insomnia and disrupted sleep
- Physical tension
Furthermore, stress will exacerbate existing health problems. For example, it will make asthma worse and is thought to make cancerous tumors grow faster and spread cancer cells more widely while inhibiting recovery. It is also linked to heart disease long term and a weakened immune system, which makes it easier to catch colds and other illnesses.
There are Ways to Reduce Your Stress
All’s not lost, however. Stress can be debilitating, but it is fightable. Ultimately, it is best fought by solving the underlying cause be it social, emotional, financial or caused by something else. However, we need to be fitter and in a better frame of mind sometimes in order to find that solution. Therefore, it is recommended to try several different solutions to feel better in the long and short term. These include:
- Seeing a Therapist: There are many good therapists out there who are trained to help you through stressors in your life in a calm, private manner.
- Meditating: Deep, relaxed breathing is proven to reduce stress. All it takes is 10 minutes of quiet reflection and relaxation to help. You can find videos and apps to help.
- Exercising: Even going for a walk can immeasurably reduce stress and improve how the body deals with it. You can go for more strenuous exercises too if it helps. It is also worth noting that losing weight and improving diet are two great ways of dealing with stress too.
- Yoga: Yoga has proven to be one of the key exercises for reducing stress though if it’s not for you try Tai Chi or Qigong instead.
- Getting Plenty of You-Time: Sometimes you just need to do something for yourself instead of for others all the time. Do things you find relaxing and fun be it the TV or walking or a hobby.
- Walking Away from Anger: Many emotions can fuel stress, but anger is one of the significant ones. Reduce stress by managing your anger and cooling off.
- Getting Support: Friends and family are invaluable to helping you take all of these steps. They can cheer you up, listen to you, and support you in other ways too.