How to conquer stress: 5 things a retiree can do today.

 

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Everyone has heard about stress, and everyone has experienced stress at some point in their lives.It does not matter where you live today, there are always opportunities to experience stress.We have all felt the knot in our stomachs, the pounding heartbeat, sweating palms, and sometimes shaking knees!

What has been your experience? Do you get headaches, have stomach pains, or did you holler at Fido for no reason? Welcome to the human race of the 21st century!

Stress that is short lived is not usually the problem. It is the chronic, unrelenting stress that your doctor will say has the potential to lead to physical and emotional illnesses.These could include high blood pressure, depression, or other disorders.

Even good things could lead to stress. Are you planning a wedding, starting a new job, or moving to a larger and better home? These positive experiences if handled incorrectly, can lead to stress and it’s negative consequences.

According to the Mayo clinic, ” …the brain perceives a threat, it signals your body to release a burst of hormones to fuel your capacity for a response”.

Here are five sure fire ways to combat stress:

1. Know yourself and be aware of your possible reactions to certain situations. For example,if the driver in front of you cuts you off,or the sales clerk is rude, you will have a reaction whether verbalized or not.You have a choice of how you will allow their actions to affect you.

Your mother was right in telling you to count to 10 before responding.That short amount of time can give you some space to decide what you will do.You need a few seconds to consciously consider the annoyance for what it is.

I tell myself that most likely I will never see the driver that cut me off again in life. Is it worth it to get agitated, and angry? Road rage could have serious long term consequences!

2. Taking deep breaths can definitely help you to fight stress. Deep breathing will  help to decrease you heart rate and blood pressure. When you are stressed, your body is in a flight or fight mode which tends to increase your blood pressure. This increase, if chronic, could lead to serious health complications.

3. Get help or support for more long term stress such as dealing with divorce, financial setbacks, or unresolved family issues.
Consider the help of a trained counselor, minister, financial advisor or a trusted friend.

4. Be active and participate in an exercise program.As retirees, we have been told that exercise done at least three days per week can prevent the debilitating effects of aging, and it can also help to decrease stress.

I recommend an activity that you enjoy, such as walking, bike riding, or any activity that is first approved by your doctor.

I attend an exercise class at my local gym which is specially geared to seniors. It is fun, and it gets me moving!

5. Healthy eating is another way to help your body fight the effects of stress. This is an area that most of us struggle with daily, however, we must make a conscious effort to be aware of everything that we eat.

Personally, I find that now that I am retired, it is easier to cook my own meals than when I had a full time job.This allows me to know exactly what is in the foods that I eat especially the sodium level.

It helps me to write down what I have eaten for the day. On the days that I do not write it down, I mentally try to recall what I ate for each meal. If I ate a healthy meal, I commend myself. If I splurged, I encourage myself to improve the next day.

An important goal of healthy retirement is to improve our health by adding more fresh fruits,  vegetables, and whole grain to our diets, and to eat in moderation. The things we need to decrease or eliminate include fried and processed food, salt, and sugar.

It is a good practice to consult with a nutritionist who understands your medical condition, and health needs.

Stress is an ongoing part of our lives whether we are retired or not. Developing strategies to help you to combat this all too common issue will help you to have a healthy retirement.

How do you handle stress? Share your experiences and thoughts so that we can all benefit from what worked for you and what has not.

Hanna

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