Stress Relief Tips for a Happy, Healthy Retirement
Many people dream of retirement being an easy, carefree time where you’re able to sit back, relax and enjoy life to the fullest. However, retirement and getting older can discombobulate you if you’re not mentally, emotionally and financially prepared for the stressful situations that can pop up.
“We’re not saying that retirement is something to be concerned about, but you shouldn’t go into it with rose-colored glasses,” says Allison Yancey, Executive Director of Residences at Wellpoint, an Independent Living, Assisted Living and Memory Care community in Huntsville, Alabama. “At the same time, we don’t want to sound dire. There are many great benefits to retirement, like being able to spend your time pursuing your passions, enjoying new activities and making new friends. In order to fully enjoy everything retirement has to offer, it’s important to realize that there will be times when you’re stressed. But there are plenty of strategies you can learn and use to help reduce stress so you can live a happy, healthy retirement.”
In honor of National Stress Awareness Month, we’ve put together some information about stress and retirement, as well as provided tips on how to help manage your stress for a better, brighter future.
Why Are You Stressed?
Who would have thought that leaving the workforce – which can be a pretty stressful place – can be stressful, too? As it turns out, retirement is one of the most stressful life situations, according to the American Institute of Stress. That’s not the only stressful situation older adults go through as they age. Other significant life stressors include financial changes, the death of a spouse or close friend, being diagnosed with a chronic illness and a variety of other things. Many of these things can happen seemingly all at once when you reach a certain age, which means that a lot of older adults may find themselves dealing with not one, not two, but a handful of very stressful situations that can feed off each other.
Not only that, but our bodies have a more difficult time processing and handling stress as we age. For example, lungs and hearts don’t have the same capacity anymore, which means that it may be more difficult and take longer to recover from injury or stress-related health issues. Getting enough sleep can help reduce stress, but older adults often have difficulty sleeping, so the levels of stress hormone don’t get fully purged as they would with a good, deep night’s sleep. When stress levels remain high for a lengthy period of time, it can cause memory lapses, “senior brain” and a variety of health issues. All of which – you guessed it – end up making you more stressed.
The trick is to recognize what’s causing your stress, identifying the triggers and taking steps to help you live a healthier life overall. Your body will thank you as you’re able to enjoy a healthier and more fulfilling retirement.
5 Tips for Coping With Stress
- Exercise regularly.
Most of us don’t exercise enough, due to our sedentary jobs and other lifestyle factors. It’s too bad, because regular physical exercise is one of the best ways to remain healthy and age well – and reduce stress, too. Fortunately, now that you’re retired, you actually have time to dedicate to an exercise routine and keep yourself feeling great. Besides helping us maintain our physical abilities and a healthy weight, exercise improves mood by increasing serotonin levels and helps you sleep better at night. Research also shows that exercise can help improve cognitive health. Aim for approximately 30 minutes of moderate exercise five times a week (at least). More is good, of course, but be sure to gauge your ability level and check with your doctor to make sure you’re healthy enough for regular physical activity.
- Be mindful.
It’s easy to get lost in our own thoughts and spin off into worry, stress and anxiety. The practice of mindfulness involves “getting out of your head,” recognizing and accepting your emotions and allowing yourself to be present in the moment. One example of mindfulness practice is meditation. It’s been noted that being intentionally mindful can drop your stress levels practically instantly. If you’ve never tried being mindful before, you can start with a free app or guided meditation to help you become comfortable with the practice.
- Eat a healthy diet.
When we’re stressed, we often reach for comfort foods, which taste good in the moment but don’t have a lot of nutritional value. As we get older, eating a healthy diet is incredibly important to helping our bodies stay healthy. Good nutrition also plays a big role in helping reduce stress, as eating the right things can lower your blood pressure, help your cardiovascular system run smoothly and allow you to manage health conditions like diabetes. Choose whole, unprocessed foods whenever possible (preferably plant-based foods). Reduce the amount of red meat, sugar, salt and alcohol you consume. A good way to start eating better is by only shopping around the outside aisles of the grocery store – the inside aisles are where you’ll find junk and processed foods.
- Stay connected.
Did you know that staying social actually helps you be less stressed, improves your health and can even help you maintain cognitive function? Just like with exercise, retirement allows you much more time to reach out to friends and family and maintain and nurture those close bonds. When you leave the workforce, you have to do a little more work in order to connect with others, but that’s all right – you have many more opportunities that have opened up to you. Start by connecting with the people you already know and love, whether that’s setting up a weekly lunch date with friends or texting your sister throughout the day. Make plans to travel and visit family members you haven’t seen in a while. You may also want to consider joining a club or picking up a new hobby in order to meet new people who share similar interests. Another great opportunity to socialize and find new friends? Volunteering.
- Find a purpose.
Having a purpose in life is one of the unspoken joys and ways to remain happy no matter how old you are. Think about the things that are important to you and what you’d like to accomplish now that you no longer have to work or raise a family. Would you like to volunteer for worthwhile causes? Pick up new skills? Maybe re-enter the workforce in a different career or doing something you’ve always enjoyed? This is the time of your life to set goals and do something for yourself that fills you up, enriches your life and provides a higher purpose.
“Getting older can be stressful, but that doesn’t mean your retirement has to be,” says Allison. “One great way to help reduce many stressors in your life is by joining a senior living community like the Residences. With our lifestyle framework, we are forging a naturally inspired, healthier and more collaborative way of life to help seniors age well, stay connected and truly make their retirement something big and meaningful.”
Where It All Comes Together
At Residences at Wellpoint, we provide an exceptional experience for those who desire Independent Living, Assisted Living or Memory Care in the Huntsville area. As part of the broader Wellpoint Community “campus,” we cultivate an engaged, intergenerational community unlike any other. Here, we celebrate well-being with an array of social programs; innovative, on-site medical technology; a healthy, fulfilling lifestyle and so much more.
Here, our residents enjoy complete freedom of choice as well as the ability to plan their days however they choose. This is because we take the tedious routines of everyday life off your hands so that you can enjoy your life any way you wish. Go on an outing, enjoy the community, get fit in the fitness center, enjoy our dining bistro or shoot a game of pool in the sports/billiards bar. It’s all waiting for you.
No matter what your needs are, we can meet them. Our lifestyle philosophy supports every need along your journey, whether you desire Independent Living, need the assistance of our Assisted Living program or begin to need Memory Care. However your needs may change, we offer on-site medical assistance and supportive services so you can continue enjoying the engaging lifestyle you love. Contact us to learn more!
Call us at 256.274.5312 for more information or to schedule a personal visit today.