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How to live better for longer: Stress

March 3, 2022 by Karen Case

In this series of blogs, we've been breaking down a recent article published in The Times which covers key factors we can implement into our routine to have a healthier, happier existence later in life. So far we've looked at reframing attitude and purpose. These topics, while important, are often swallowed up by the biggest killer of all for many older people - stress.

We've all been through times where we've found ourselves, our family and friends experiencing stress in one way or another. Stress is a universal experience and unfortunately, for many of us, it's an experience we know all too well. Nowadays it's almost abnormal not to be stressed. If you're not stressed, you're not striving far enough, running fast enough or working hard enough. We work ourselves into an early grave and stress is one of the most prevalent causes of health problems later in life

We all know that stress in excess has detrimental effects on health. It effects our hormones, immune system and can even lead to more serious health problems like diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure. Stress is scientifically proven to be linked to strokes and heart attacked. With all this in mind it's important to have an arsenal of stress management methods at your disposal in older age, as coping with stress is all the more important. We've created some handy tips to help you manage your stress levels as you move into the later stages of life.

Time to switch off

Social media and the online world has hugely detrimental effects on our mental health and this can cause us stress. Try and practice restraint with the time you spend online. By separating yourself from this each day, you can "reset" your brain and lower stress levels.

This could take shape in putting your phone away for the night after a certain time - after dinner for example. You can set a time limit for the amount of time you spend on each app. Another good tip is to leave your phone behind while performing short errands, such as going to the post office or walking the dog. Most of the time, we can survive without our phones for 20 minutes, so use this time to decompress and enjoy the world outside of your portable device.

Explore the great outdoors

Fresh air and mild exercise is a great way to reduce stress. Take up an activity that requires being outdoors like dog-walking, gardening, jogging or yoga. Leaving your house and distracting your mind for a short period each day will have a positive effect from the get-go. In Maxted's article, she tells us that forest and large wooded areas in particular can help to boost your mood and reduce stress

It's all abour routine

Creating a routine for yourself can help you manage your stress levels. Productivity and creativity combat the effects of stress and help us to shape our day in a way that will benefit our mental health.

This could be planning your meals in advance and taking the time to shop for, prepare and cook them. You could aim to go for an hour's walk every morning or commit to a walking group. Or perhaps you could make plans to see you friend twice a week at your favourite local spot. Creating structure and routine will lessen the impact of stress and help you manage it in a healthy way.

Shake off the things that get you down

Stress generally comes from a source. Most of the time we are stressed about something or someone. Practice stress management by approaching these sources head on.

Procrastination and avoidance almost never work out and typically lead to even more stress. Focus on the things in your life that are making you stressed and approach each of these with a clear, level-headed mind. You could write down a list of the things that are stressing you out, list the positives and negatives, solutions to these issues, or even just vent why these issues are causing you stress. Ultimately, shaking off and dealing with the sources of your stress is the most sure-fire way to reduce it.

Talk to someone

Writing down your worries is one way of venting but talking about it is even better. Talking about your stress and emotions is hugely beneficial. If you talk to your friends or family about what's causing your stress, this will actually reduce physical symptoms of stress. Getting stress off your chest by talking is extremely healthy and therapeutic, and is recommended by all medical professionals

Mindfulness is key

Mindfulness is a great form of stress management. Meditation, yoga and light exercise can all reduce symptoms of stress and help you live better for longer. We recommend Tai Chi, as it is extremely calming and meditive, while also requiring healthy levels of focus and concentration

About Lifedock

Lifedock is the UK’s leading instructor training provider of creative, fun and effective physical activity programmes. They are uniquely designed to bring safe and effective exercise for a range of special populations, including frail and elderly, young people, children, people with learning and physical disability and people with mental health conditions. Courses include Chair based Exercise Instructor, Drum Based Exercise Instructor and Tai Chi Instructor (Chi Me) . Click here for the full range of our courses.

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