A common aging myth is that older adults don’t experience stress.
As in, this kind of myth:
If you’re retired, you have no worries and can spend the rest of your golden years rocking away on a porch swing, stress-free.
But the truth is:
Stress is a part of life for everyone, no matter their age.
Not to mention, retirement brings its own set of fears, worries, and challenges.
To help you cope with stress, we’ll cover eight stress management activities for seniors.
Let’s dive right in.
#1 Do Deep Breathing Exercises
What’s the first piece of advice that comes to mind when you think of stress?
Probably, take a deep breath.
And it’s true.
Deep breathing exercises are easy stress management activities for seniors that can be done in virtually any setting. You can substantially lower your cortisol levels by taking intentional, slow breaths for just 4 minutes.
Best of all? They’re easy to perform, require no equipment, and can be done anywhere. So just close your eyes and take slow, deep breaths through your nose and out through your mouth.
This will also help you regulate your nervous system — so you can trigger your parasympathetic nervous system (i.e., rest-and-digest mode) instead of your sympathetic nervous system (i.e., fight-or-flight mode).
Considering your body can stay in fight-or-flight for 20-60 minutes after any threat is gone, it’s worth calming your body proactively with some easy breathing.
Take it up a notch and follow our next step.
Meditation is a powerful stress relief activity that helps you clear your mind of negative thoughts, improve your mood, get better sleep, and just plain focus on being in the present moment.
It’s no wonder 53% of older adults meditate at least once a week (more than any other age group).
You don’t have to sit in a lotus position on the floor — there are plenty of ways to meditate that involve no special poses or mantras.
Or simply try guided meditations — these are recordings of someone speaking in soothing tones to help guide your thoughts. Some of our favorites to check out on YouTube are:
- 5-minute guided meditation
- 5-minute body scan meditation
- 10-minute guided meditation with Radhi Devlukia
- 15-minute stillness meditation with Adriene
And if you’re brand new to meditation, consistency is everything. Just set aside a few minutes each day to give it while – whether that’s sitting in silence, focusing on your breath, or following a guided meditation.
Getting the practice down into a daily routine is totally worth it. As you practice more, you will find that stress becomes easier to manage.
Bonus tip: Here are 10 simple mindfulness activities that are worth trying.
#3 Engage in Exercise
But, relatively high-intensity workouts such as running, cycling, or weightlifting may be better for stress management.
These activities increase endorphins and serotonin, two good-feeling hormones that can lift your mood and reduce stress.
While exercising, focus on your breathing and how it feels as you move. By being mindful of your body and your stress levels, you can gain better control over both.
#4 Keep a Gratitude Journal
Writing can be a great stress relief strategy.
Writing down your feelings – whether in a diary or blog – can help you express yourself and cope with stress. It literally has a therapeutic effect on your brain.
Plus, you may gain insight into what’s causing stress and how to better manage it.
You could try out Julia Cameron’s morning pages method.
Better yet, couple journaling with the immense benefits of gratitude and watch your mood soar to greater heights (do this with consistency, of course).
More specifically, every morning, write three pages of anything that comes to mind – tapping into the magic of practicing daily gratitude – just don’t censor yourself.
You don’t have to write an essay or even complete sentences — just writing down some words, phrases, or ideas of gratitude that come to mind when you’re feeling overwhelmed can be a stress-busting activity.
#5 Connect With Nature
Taking a break from stress can be as simple as going outside.
Spending just 20 minutes in nature can reduce stress hormones and improve your mood.
This can also kickstart your parasympathetic nervous system and naturally put your body in a calm state.
Plus, being outside allows you to take in some fresh air, sunshine, and natural beauty – all of which can be stress-relieving activities for seniors.
You might try walking around the neighborhood or simply sitting on a park bench with a good book.
Or if you’re feeling adventurous, go for a hike in the woods or take a bike ride.
No matter what outdoor activity you choose, you’re bound to feel better after spending some time in nature.
#6 Find a Creative Outlet
Channeling creative energy into hobbies like painting, writing, or photography can be great outlets for relieving stress.
Whichever you choose, expressing yourself and having fun with art can be wonderful for discovering new sources of stress relief.
According to a study on the effects of art therapy on stress and anxiety, people who participated in art therapy sessions had significantly lower cortisol levels and stress scores than those who didn’t.
You don’t have to be a master artist to participate — just having fun with colors and shapes is stress-relieving in itself.
And don’t limit your creativity to the visual arts — it all counts. Which brings us to our next tip for any musically-inclined older adults.
#7 Enjoy Music
Music has been proven to be stress-relieving, especially so for older adults.
Listening to favorite songs or playing an instrument can help you relax and focus on something enjoyable.
Studies have shown that listening to music can reduce levels of stress hormones, such as cortisol, and increase the production of mood-boosting neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin.
If you’re not sure what kind of music works best, researchers found that slower music with a steady rhythm produced more calming effects than other genres.
So turn on some jazz or classical music and let stress drift away.
#8 Rely on an Expert
Sometimes stress can become too much to manage on your own.
If stress is starting to affect your daily life, it might be time to seek help from a professional.
As a retirement coach, Cyn has seen first-hand how hard it can be to overcome stress, especially when you’re reeling off of a successful career and/or family life that has you going from 60-to-zero (it’s a shock to your system).
Finding your purpose and passions in retirement and setting yourself up to retire to something meaningful is extremely helpful in curbing stress.
With a program specifically tailored to the needs of older adults, you can not only learn effective stress-relief practices that will support your physical, emotional, and mental health, but you’ll also learn how to consistently thrive in retirement.
Combat Stressors & Take Control
Stress can be a difficult emotion to manage, but stress management activities for seniors can help you face stress head-on and stay calm.
Don’t let stress stand in the way of living your best retired life. You can find the peace of mind you deserve when you’re armed with our stress-management activities for seniors:
- #1 Do deep breathing exercises — take a few deep breaths to quickly relax your body and mind
- #2 Meditate — focus on being in the present moment and feel the stress melt away
- #3 Engage in exercise — whether it’s low- or high-impact, physical activity significantly reduces stress
- #4 Keep a gratitude journal — writing down your thoughts and feelings of gratitude can be immensely therapeutic
- #5 Connect with nature — soak in the healing effects of the outdoors
- #6 Find a creative outlet — use arts and crafts to escape from reality and stress
- #7 Enjoy music — whether you’re playing or simply listening to music, it’s a tremendous stress-busting activity
- #8 Rely on an expert — reach out for professional help to face any challenges head-on
Find what works for you, try them out, and reclaim your calm.