5 Ways to Combat Stress and Anxiety
Stress and anxiety can lead to serious mental and physical health problems in people of all ages, but it can be especially detrimental to seniors. Our home health care team, United Methodist Communities HomeWorks, has gathered insight into how stress and anxiety affects seniors. We’ve also compiled vital tips on how to help manage this issue to better support your overall health or the health of a senior family member.
How stress affects seniors
Stress and anxiety are natural and useful responses – when our minds recognize a threat, the stress response releases a hormone called cortisol to ready our bodies for fight or flight. Our blood pressure rises, our muscles tense, our breathing becomes more rapid and our senses sharpen.
Unfortunately, our modern lives trigger this response easily and too often. No matter our age, this creates dangerous strain on our brains and physical bodies, especially our hearts. In seniors, this is even more serious. Seniors often have additional medical conditions, including chronic diseases, low appetite (which impacts nutrition), physical disabilities, poor sleep patterns, isolation and more. The additional weight of stress and anxiety makes it more difficult for the body to cope and bounce back compared to a younger person.
So, what can seniors do to better manage stress and anxiety?
The good news is stress and anxiety can be managed. Simple lifestyle changes can make all the difference in maintaining a healthier senior lifestyle.
- Meditation – Meditation involves deep, steady breathing, mental focus to clear your mind, and relaxing your physical body. Regular meditation helps the body clear away stress hormones, improve sleep, and combats depression and even chronic pain. There are some great apps available that can teach you how to meditate, while also highlighting more benefits of this practice.
- Exercise – Physical exercise releases those “feel-good” hormones that help the body and mind to flush away stress. It doesn’t have to be strenuous exercise either! For seniors, it’s best to talk to a doctor or care team for some ideas on finding the right exercise for you. Some low-impact exercises include yoga, nature walks, dancing, water aerobics or gardening. Regular physical activity also helps improve sleep, which helps your body get rid of excess cortisol that has built up throughout the day.
- Listen to music – Music has an incredible way of lifting your mood and reconnecting with great memories, so sit back, relax, and listen away! You can stream music for free from YouTube, play an instrument or put on the radio. Even listening to soothing sounds like ocean waves or bird sounds with your eyes closed can create a sense of relaxation, which lowers cortisol levels and balances blood pressure.
- Eat a balanced diet – High stress levels can make you want to reach for those fatty snacks your doctor has been telling you to avoid! However, the best choice for combatting stress and anxiety is a healthy diet. Fresh fruits and vegetables, wholegrains, eggs, and lean proteins are all fantastic for supporting brain and physical health. They are also effective for reducing chronic pain, improving sleep quality, managing chronic symptoms, and improving physical and mental function.
- Getting active in the community – Making friends, participating in activities and finding a purpose in your community is an important way to combat stress, anxiety and even depression. This will also help you to stay mentally and physically healthy. Learn a new skill, pass on a skill of your own, start a hobby you’ve always wanted to try, and get involved!
Home health aides can ease and eliminate daily stresses
HomeWorks is dedicated to safe, in-home care for older adults in New Jersey that promotes an independent and abundant life. In addition to assisting with daily tasks, errands and light housekeeping, our home health aides are fully trained in providing assistance and care in line with the latest COVID-19 guidelines.
To find out more about how we can ease the stress of seniors and their caregivers, please contact us today or visit our website at: https://umcommunities.org/homeworks/home-respite-care-services-nj/