Even in your retirement years, stress can still play an unfortunate—and potentially dangerous—role in your life and health. While the former stressors of your life (such as work or your daily commute) may have subsided, new stress-inducing worries may have found their way into your mind.
Seeking ways to de-stress can improve both your physical and mental health and allow you to more fully enjoy your retirement years. Everyone prefers to relieve stress in different ways, so it’s just a matter of finding what works best for you.
Here are a few activities for older adults designed to kick stress:
In especially stressful moments, focusing on careful and intentional breathing can help center your thoughts and ease your body’s stress reactions. For instance, try square breathing: Inhale for four seconds, hold for four seconds, exhale for four seconds and hold for four seconds.
Repeat this exercise until your heart rate returns to normal and you feel at ease.
Similar to breathing exercises, meditation is a great way to slow down and focus your thoughts. Many people find a short, daily meditation can have a profound and positive impact on their stress levels and promote overall health and wellness.
To start, try simply sitting in a chair with your feet flat on the floor and your eyes closed for five minutes. It may take some practice to clear your mind and focus on the present, but you’ll find the process becomes easier with time.
Spend Time Outside
Sunshine and fresh air can do wonders for stress relief. And in the Greater Phoenix area, we have plenty of both! If you’re feeling overly stressed, go for a short walk or simply sit outside to take in the sights and sounds of your beautiful surroundings.
Often, too much time alone means too much time reflecting on the past or worrying about the future. Being around loved ones and interacting with people is a great way to relax, lift your mood and keep you connected to the present moment.
Schedule regular plans to meet friends for lunch or a weekly phone call to catch up with a long-distance friend or family member. Consider joining a club to make new friends who share your interests.
Get a Spa Treatment
Nothing will make you feel more relaxed and pampered than a trip to the spa. Get a massage, treat yourself to a pedicure or enjoy a facial. Schedule a visit once or twice a month—or even weekly. You’ll be amazed at how much an hour or two of spa services can improve your mood.
Physical exercise releases endorphins that automatically boost your mood. In other words, not only is regular exercise good for your physical body, it’s also important for your mental health. Talk to your doctor about what sort of routine would be best for you and, most importantly, find a form of exercise you enjoy.
Have a Treat
While chunk of chocolate cake might not necessarily be part of a daily balanced diet, enjoying a sweet treat every now and then can be a great way to care for yourself. Even better? If you make it yourself, you can enjoy the methodical, stress-relieving act of baking, too.
Take Up a New Hobby
Focusing on something new can help take your mind off whatever may be causing you stress. Try a new craft like knitting or woodworking, putting together puzzles, learning a new language or picking up an instrument.
Giving back to your community doesn’t just help others—it can also have a positive impact on your own personal well-being. The purposeful act of volunteering can make you feel valued and help put your own stressors into perspective.
Stress is a natural part of life that affects people of all ages and lifestyles. A little stress can be a positive motivator, but too much stress can have a negative effect on your physical and mental health. By adding a few of the above activities to your routine, you can decrease stress and begin getting more out of your retirement.
One of the best ways to reduce stress is to complete your Life Care plan. Sign up for an educational workshop to learn how you can enjoy the peace of mind of a well-planned future.
(Originally published June 21, 2016; last updated Jan. 6, 2019.)