Stress remains a constant in our fast-paced society, even in retirement. Absent or busy family members, financial worries, or feelings of loss can trigger ongoing stress that negatively impacts your health. Stress is a natural reaction to sudden, demanding circumstances. But when the stress becomes chronic and ongoing, it becomes a problem.
Are you handling stress in a healthy way? June is National Stress Awareness Month, so let’s explore some proven ways to reduce stress – and lead a happier, healthier life.
- Take a deep breath. Slow down and take a few deep breaths. Sometimes de-stressing can be as simple as spending time clearing your head and breathing deeply instead of rushing off to complete the next task or endlessly worrying about tomorrow’s plans. Spend more time moment-to-moment instead of crisis-to-crisis.
- Help others. While helping others may not be the first thing you consider when you’re under stress, taking the time to give back to your community really can reduce stress levels. Volunteer, teach a knitting or scrapbooking class, or offer to be a mentor to a young person.
- Make friends. Studies show that both stress and depression can be alleviated when we have strong social connections. This is one of the reasons that retirement living communities are so popular with seniors. Many communities, like Bethany Village, offer a wide variety of social gatherings, activities, and communal dining options to help you get to know more people.
- Embrace the positive. Positivity can help transform not only how we feel about aging, but also lower our stress levels. When you find yourself concentrating on the negative, stop and write down all of the things you have to be positive for in this moment. In fact, this is a great way to start each and every day, as it puts you in a positive frame of mind from the get-go.
- Enjoy a hands-on hobby. Many find that hobbies which require that they use their hands – from baking to gardening to knitting – helps relax them. Science backs this up, with studies showing that taking up a craft can alleviate stress, depression, and anxiety.
- Engage in activities that are pleasurable and make you laugh. This can be watching a funny video, spending time with a friend or favorite pet, or going out with a group of good friends. Sometimes laughter really is the best medicine.
- Limit alcohol. While alcohol in moderation may improve health, excessive drinking can have the opposite effect. Prolonged use of alcohol will dehydrate you, and could be detrimental to your overall mental and physical health. Instead, be sure to drink plenty of water and eat a diet rich in vitamins and minerals.
- Stay active. As with so many things related to our health, staying active can also be beneficial for those with chronic stress. This can be as simple as going for a walk, riding a bike, or taking a swim a few times a week.
- Take up a new skill. The more we learn, the less time our minds have to dwell on the negative. Enjoy free community programs offered by your local library or the Dayton Metroparks. Better yet, connect with a friend and have them teach you something they excel at, like chess, Scrabble, embroidery, or quilting.