17 June 2019

Stress relief tips for older people

Elderly people in kitchen

As you become older, you’re likely to face new challenges which may cause you to feel stress, this could include moving to a more accessible home or that you’re struggling with low mobility, in which case you can install a UK stairlift. Whatever the reason behind your stress, it’s important to take the time to try and relax. Stress can not only lead to physical illnesses; it can also be massively disruptive to your day. Read on to discover some of the best ways you can try and relieve stress.

What exactly is stress?

Stress can differ depending on the person and the severity of the situation. The National Institute of Mental Health defines it as: “Stress is how the brain and body respond to any demand. Every type of demand or stressor - such as exercise, work, school, major life changes, or traumatic events - can be stressful.” Over time, stress can have consequences on physical health, such as low energy, headaches, insomnia, upset stomach and mental health problems.

When someone encounters stress their brain triggers a ‘flight or fight’ response, and they may show symptoms of an increased heart rate, sweat, muscle tension, rapid breathing and a heightened sense of alertness. However, the stress of day-to-day life can inaccurately trigger this response in non-threatening situations, which is when stress relieving tactics come in useful.

Identify the problem

Firstly, try to pinpoint the reasons why you’re feeling stressed and what’s causing it. It could be a stress at work or home, or something more specific, common causes of stress include planning an occasion, moving to a new house or money problems. A mistake many people make is to try and bury what they’re feeling; this is only a short-term fix and you’ll quickly realise that it’s better to take the time to relax. We spoke to Clark from the website Clark Norton, a baby boomer travel expert, for his thoughts, he says: “Identify what's causing you to feel too busy or overwhelmed, then do the opposite.”

Have a break from technology

Woman sitting on a bench

If you’re an avid technology user and you start to feel stressed, it’s a good idea to take a break and give yourself a digital detox. This will allow you to have more time to connect with the people around you and yourself, as well as also improving the quality of your sleep.

Clark Norton continues: “For me, since work and all its attendant problems are what tend to overwhelm me, that usually means getting away from the computer and smartphone and going somewhere where there's no internet, whether for a few hours or a week. Then, when I return, I usually feel refreshed and often with the burden at least somewhat lifted.”

Stay Organised

The saying ‘a tidy home is a tidy mind’ rings true as organising is a great way to relieve stress. Clutter can decrease your productivity and make it much harder for you to focus, which can eventually make you feel stressed. Try to dedicate at least twenty minutes per day to clean and tidy your home to keep on top of the clutter. It’s not just about organising your surroundings, it’s also great to have a to-do list of your tasks for the day. Having a clear idea of what you need to do and at what time will help you feel better prepared for your day ahead, by doing so you’re likely to avoid stressful situations.

Michelle from Fifty and Fab, a lifestyle blog for women over 50, agrees that staying organised is a great way to relieve stress, she tells us: “First of all, I tidy up my desk and my to-do list and I prioritise, I get rid of the tasks that are unimportant or unnecessary. That always helps me feel better. Then I schedule in ‘me time.’”

Read a book

Reading a book, whether it be fiction or nonfiction, can be a brilliant stress reliever. You may find whisking yourself away into a different world can take your mind off reality and make you feel calm. Reading a book is another one of the ways Michelle from Fifty and Fab unwinds, she continues to tell us: “I love to go for a walk, sit in my garden, read a book or have a long bath!”

Michelle continues to tell us her overall advice for relieving stress: “Remember to breathe and take your time. The number one health priority for our wellness and especially weight management is to learn to deal with stress. Find ways to add calm into your daily life, practice mindfulness, go for a walk, read a book, take five minutes out just for you. And ask for help if you need it, there is no shame in admitting you need support.”

Cognitive puzzles and games

Cards and dice

Puzzles such as Sudoku and crosswords, as well as memory and word games, can massively help relieve stress. Because all these activities require you to use your brain, they act as a distraction from whatever is causing you stress. Using this method not only distracts you but it stimulates your mind and may even help improve your memory. This could also include chess and card games, which you can have fun with and play with other people. We recommend always having a puzzle book or a pack of cards lying around your home for times when you need a break.

Change your diet

Pan full of fresh vegetables

Sometimes diet can influence how stressed you feel, usually, foods with high sugar intake, artificial sweeteners and processed carbohydrates will increase stress. According to Very Well Mind, too much coffee can also increase the chances that you’ll experience stress, as high amounts of caffeine can cause your mood to heighten and then plummet. However, in small amounts coffee can improve your overall mood.

There are certain foods that help you relieve stress; this mainly consists of natural foods that are high in nutrition. According to BBC Good Food, there are three types of nutrients you should focus on consuming, which are listed below:

  • Vitamin C: Found in fresh fruit and vegetables including spinach, oranges and strawberries.
  • Magnesium: You can find high amounts of this in nuts, seeds and leafy vegetables.
  • B Vitamins: Meat and fish are great for this as well as fruit and dark vegetables.

Try meditating

Meditation is believed to have many benefits that help both your physical and mental health. The supposed benefits include reducing your stress levels and enhancing your self-awareness. If you’re struggling with stress daily, it’s worth trying to meditate for at least ten minutes each day to find out if it works for you.

To meditate, simply sit in a comfortable position and focus on your breathing, pay close attention to inhaling and exhaling. Stay like this for as long as you feel like it, you’re likely to have thoughts cross through your mind but don’t fixate on them. Our top tip is to meditate in the morning to encourage a stress-free and productive rest of the day.

Josephine from Chic at any age, a fashion blog for women over 50, tells us her recommended method of relieving stress: “Take up meditation. I have been meditating for 20 mins every day for about four years. Even 10 mins would be enough. There are many good apps available. I use Headspace and Calm. In an emergency, concentrate on taking some deep slow breaths.”

Exercise often

Walking through a park

A reliable and efficient way to relieve stress is to exercise, this doesn’t need to be strenuous as it could simply involve going on a leisurely walk. Yoga is also a popular form of exercise for stress relief, and it is practical for people of all ages. It can also help lower blood pressure and increase your balance and flexibility.

Josephine from Chic at any age continues with her tips to relieve stress: “Take a short time to go for a walk if possible, somewhere in nature and try to notice your surroundings.”

Exercising is a popular method to relieve stress, as Clark also says: “Definitely exercise. Get outdoors and take a walk. Hike. Swim. Hit the gym. Ride a bike - whatever you like to do and can do. But get moving and get the blood pumping!”

Quick tips for relieving stress

  • Have a digital detox
  • Organise your day and surroundings
  • Read a book
  • Try a cognitive puzzle or game
  • Change your diet
  • Try meditating
  • Exercise often