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Keeping Your Cool: Stress Management for Older Adults

In our last blog, we discussed the importance of maintaining a healthy blood pressure. In order to do this, it is important to monitor your numbers, follow you’re doctor’s instructions, eating a healthy diet, and maintaining an active lifestyle. Also vital to treating hypertension is keeping a healthy outlook on life and minimizing stress. This is, of course, easier said than done. With that in mind, we have a few tips for keeping stress at bay.

  • Stay active. Yes, staying active helps with blood pressure on its own, but it is also important for managing stress. Exercise increases endorphins, which makes you feel better.
  • Sleep well. Keep a regular schedule and eliminate things that interfere with sleep, such as light, caffeine and electronic devices. Aim for roughly eight hours. It may be more difficult to sleep during more stressful times, but having a solid base will help you accomplish that.
  • Don’t self medicate. A glass of wine or a pill to relax sounds like a good idea, but can lead to problems with addiction. It can also increase stress, as the problems you’re avoiding may grow when not addressed. Talk to your doctor about finding the right solution for you.
  • Ask for help. It can be difficult to ask for help, especially if you fear losing independence. Still, going it alone increases stress. Everyone needs help from time to time, so don’t be afraid to ask.
  • Stay social. As individuals age, it is important to maintain social activities. Feelings of loneliness and isolation will only increase stress. Many, if not most, of the difficulties that bring stress are common. You’re not alone.
  • Listen to music. Research shows that music decreases stress and can even lower heart rate and improve cognitive function. Make music a part of your daily routine.
  • Get spiritual. Many individuals find comfort and peace in their faith. Prayer, meditation and other reflective activities can help you find your calm.
  • Breathe. Deep breathing, where the diaphragm lifts and the abdomen extends to allow the lungs to fill completely with air, has been shown to reduce stress in the short and long term. Make it a habit to regularly take deep breaths.
  • Get it out. When stressors come into your life, don’t ignore them. Talk, write, draw, or otherwise express your feelings about relationships, getting older, etc. Confronting life head on will help you to cope well and meet each challenge that come your way.

Reducing stress is important for those addressing hypertension. The benefits also extend to managing blood sugar, dealing with chronic pain, and even coping with memory loss. Aging individuals, as well as their caregivers and other loved ones can reap the positive effects of dealing with stress well.