Stress and the Older Person
Stress is an automatic physical reaction. It's the tension you feel when faced with a new situation that might be threatening or unpleasant. As one ages, the ability to deal with stressful situations can cause unhealthy reactions that need to be managed properly so that the stress can be tolerated. Often your body, when stressed, prepares to fight off a threat as adrenaline rushes throughout your body, your heart pounds, your muscles tense, your breathing gets faster, or you get "butterflies" in your stomach.
Change is a fact of life for everyone and older people are no exception. Some things that change as you age can be retirement, income change, death of a spouse, injury or illness, change in residence, and loss of independence. Daily living can also be stressful such as financial worries, living alone, being unable to perform daily living tasks, lack of transportation, relationships with family, friends and neighbors, or an illness. Stress can't always be avoided completely, but stress can be limited.
What can you to do manage stress? Positive thinking is one of the most effective and powerful weapons of any age. When you find yourself worrying over a problem, don't fret! Instead, focus on a way to solve the problem. When you are preparing for a tense situation, don't tell yourself that you will fail. Tell yourself that you can handle the situation, and chances are you will.
Have some fun! Laughter and enjoyment are great medicines for stress. Develop some interest in a hobby or home project and spend a little time each day working on it. Team up with a friend and find someone who enjoys your interests and plan your activities together. Be a volunteer and help others by donating the use of your skills and you'll find satisfaction in helping others at the same time.
Learn to relax by deep breathing or meditation. Close your eyes and concentrate on a calming thought, word, or image. Read a good book, take a walk, or listen to some quiet music. Keep searching for a method that works for you.
There is always help available and seeking help to control stress isn't a sign of weakness but a sign of strength. There are health care providers, professional counselors, spiritual leaders, senior services in the area of Agency on Aging. Also, just finding a good friend will help, someone who will listen and talk with you.
So for better living, learn to manage stress. Recognize stress and the effects it has on you. Plan for personal fitness and good health by maintaining a healthy attitude and one that is positive. Learn to relax. All of these things can make for a less stressful life.
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