It is no secret that stress is not good for our health. As we age, our bodies may be more negatively impacted by stress. As retirement looms you may be facing a significant drop in income, unless you have a stellar pension plan and plenty of savings. Financial stress is extremely common among older adults. Health issues can be another major source of stress. Aging bodies just don’t move as well as they did 20 years earlier. Decreased mobility can be scary. Immunity can be lowered, which makes the elderly more susceptible to bacterial and viral infections. Loneliness is another common cause of stress. If you are retired, you may have lost that connection you once had with co-workers. Keeping an active connection with colleagues, friends, and family takes effort. If the effort isn’t put forth, depression can set in. Depression is extremely stressful to manage.
Stress impacts seniors both physically and mentally. The physical manifestation is increased cortisol. Cortisol is a hormone that kicks in when our bodies feel threatened. This is good unless there is too much cortisol from repeated stress. Christopher Bergland of Psychology Today says high cortisol is “public enemy #1”.
Symptoms of Stress
There are several ways to lessen stress for those 55 and older. Meditation and yoga are particularly beneficial. Both can be practiced either in a group setting or individually.
Meditation for Stress
There are different forms of meditation, such as Mindfulness, Zen, Transcendental, and Vedic. All forms are beneficial for people of all ages. CNN has reported on how meditation can slow aging. Seniors can benefit from guided meditation. Guided meditation is basically a practice with a teacher or an experienced guide. This is often practiced in a group setting. Seniors can especially benefit from group meditation. It is a calming, centering, and social way to practice.
Meditating for just 10 to 20 minutes in the morning and again in the afternoon can relax your central nervous system and temper the cortisol surge. Meditation has been shown to improve digestion, aid in sleep, and enhance the natural healing properties of the immune system.
Yoga for Stress
Exercise is one of the best antidotes to stress. There is a powerful belief that healing occurs in the presence of movement. Seniors may not be physically capable of engaging in rigorous workouts. Yoga is one of the best forms of exercise for seniors. Yoga can be as intense or as gentle as you want it to be. According to the popular website Daily Cup of Yoga, there are 5 basic types of yoga. You can choose which style best suits your abilities.
Taking a Hatha yoga class is a great place to start if you are a beginner. Hatha concentrates on basic yoga poses and relaxation techniques. It helps to improve breathing, posture, muscle tone, and it relieves stress. Chair yoga is designed for seniors with less mobility. It is a gentle practice designed to increase circulation and flexibility. It is also terrific for relieving stress. Yoga classes are wonderful venues for social interaction.
Jenny Holt, Freelance Writer