7 Stress Relief Techniques for Seniors
Stress for seniors isn’t always a bad thing. Humans are designed to create stress hormones to give us the bursts of energy and awareness that are necessary to flee from danger. However, prolonged periods of stress for seniors can cause increased periods of high hormones such as adrenaline, norepinephrine, and cortisol to build in the body which can lead to health issues such as insomnia, headaches, and high blood pressure. These things are never good for seniors for long periods of time.
It is important that seniors and their caregivers find ways to manage stress so that it doesn’t become debilitating or cause problems with their health. By better managing stress levels, you can live a longer, happier life. That is why the Balanced Care Method™ is such an important part of our everyday care for seniors we serve.
If you’re providing senior care for a loved one, or you’re a senior yourself, here are some tips on relieving the stress in your own life.
1. Seniors Should Exercise for Relaxation
Everyone could use the health benefits that come with exercise, and a big benefit of exercise is the relaxation you will feel when you are done. When you’re working out, your body produces mood-boosting endorphins while decreasing your stress hormone levels. It improves your sleep patterns as well, further reducing stress.
Aerobic activity especially is beneficial, as it helps your brain as much as your heart. Aerobic activities with seniors can be as simple as taking brisk walks, going for a hike in the woods on level ground, playing pickleball, or doing some yoga with deep breathing and balancing exercises. Whatever you decided to do, make sure it is something you enjoy. If you don’t enjoy the exercising activity, you are less likely to do it on a regular basis.
2. Help Seniors Connect With Others to Lower Stress
People are social animals, so it’s essential that we maintain close connections with friends and family members. Hugs alone can help release oxytocin, reducing the amount of cortisol in your system. If you’re providing senior care for a loved one, make sure they’re spending quality time with the people they care about.
Find ways to help them connect with you as well, be sure that not all of your interactions are based around their care needs. Find time to talk with them about things they enjoy, things they have accomplished in life, or help them find new hobbies and continue doing things they enjoy, especially with others.
Studies have shown that just talking with friends can lower your stress hormones. So be sure that connecting with others in some way is high on your priorities each week.
3. Music or Music Therapy for Seniors Can Relax The Mind
It’s no secret that music affects our mood. Music, such as slow, classical compositions, has been shown to slow the heart rate and decrease blood pressure. Relaxing music can assist with meditation and sleep as well, having the effect of reducing stress throughout the day.
Music therapists suggest that your favorite music no matter the speed or beat can help lower stress for your wellbeing. Help your senior loved one make a few playlists on their phone or their smart speaker that they will love for different occasions. Having a playlist to invigorate them up and get moving is just as important as having a playlist to relax or calm the mind before bed.
4. Help Seniors Find Hobbies They Love, Like Art to Lower Stress
Your senior loved one doesn’t have to have artistic inclinations to benefit from its stress-relieving properties. Painting or sculpting is valuable and can challenge and focus the mind in many unique ways. But so is something as simple as filling in adult coloring books. Engaging in any artistic project helps the mind to focus and clear itself of anxious thoughts.
Check with community centers who may have senior are classes in your area, or gather supplies for your loved one and their caregiver to do together. What is good for your senior’s mind is also good for a caregiver to relax and relieve stress as well.
Art comes in many forms. It could be knitting, crocheting, sewing, tying flies or woodworking even. Anything that your senior loves that is a form of creating will help them with their mental health.
5. A Healthy Diet Helps Wellbeing in Seniors
Help your senior loved one to steer clear of too many foods that can add stress. Don’t drink coffee or soda’s excessively, and avoid refined carbohydrates like snack chips, or foods that are high in sugar. Some stress-relieving foods you can enjoy include dark chocolate, yogurt, eggs, salmon, almonds, and walnuts. These foods help reduce inflammation in the body, and metabolize cortisol. Which in turn relaxes the body and mind.
Eating at regular intervals and not skipping meals is also important to keeping your blood sugar steady, which will help you maintain healthy cortisol levels as you age.
6. Deep Breathing for Stress Relief
If your aging loved one tends to get stressed easily, taking a few minutes to refocus can be as simple as breathing. Take some time every day to practice deep breathing techniques. Find a spot where you can’t be interrupted (put your smartphone down) and spend three to five minutes inhaling slowly through your nose and exhaling through your mouth. This simple exercise — as well as others — can help diminish your stress hormone levels.
Deep breathing and other breathing techniques are a cornerstone of meditation practice, especially mindfulness-based practices. And like meditation, breathing exercises evokes a similar deep and profound relaxation in the body. Focusing on your breath is a simple way to refocus and stay connected to and centered on the present.
7. Help Your Senior Find Moments to Laugh!
No matter your age, laughter is indeed one of the best medicines for the mind and body. It releases your body’s stress response, enabling you to relax, and it allows you to take in more oxygen-rich air while stimulating the heart, lungs, and muscles. If you’re not finding time to laugh every single day, what are you waiting for?
Laughter is at your fingertips these days. Help your senior find a comedian they love that they can watch on YouTube, stream through their phone or smart speaker. It is also important to not take life too seriously, find the funny moments in each day, like a pet being silly, or a grandchild’s joke or them doing something your own child did that is frustrating to their parents to laugh at together. There are so many ways to find the fun in each day.
Getting old may not be easy, but there are several ways you can help yourself or your senior care loved one with stress-relieving activities like these.
If you are struggling to lower stress in your senior loved one, consider home care or companionship services for a few hours a day or a few days a week. This can help you as the caregiver to focus on more of the fun side of life with your senior loved one, so you can lower your stress and your loved one can feel like you are not their caregiver all the time, thus helping them feel like they are more independent.
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