Entering the “senior” stages of your life entails coming to terms with the changes in your body. By this time, you may find your movements to be less smooth than before, your vision less sharp, or your hearing less clear. On top of all that, you also have to worry about high blood pressure or altapresyon, which can heighten your risks of experiencing life-threatening ailments such as cardiac arrest, heart failure, or heart attacks.
Also known as hypertension, high blood pressure occurs when your heart exerts more effort to pump blood, which causes the blood to push against your artery walls with increased force. If you have a blood pressure reading that’s higher than 130 over 80, you have hypertension and should monitor your health closely with your doctor.
Symptoms of hypertension include headaches, irregular heartbeat, chest pain, anxiety, ringing in your ears, and vision changes. These symptoms are typically stress-induced and driven by a surge in hormones, a faster heartbeat, and constricted blood vessels—all of which contribute to hypertension. As such, it’s important to manage stress properly to prevent these episodes that may cause your blood pressure to rise.
To help you keep your blood pressure at bay, here are some tips on how to manage stress so you can live smoothly through your delicate senior years:
1. Get an Adequate Amount of Sleep
We all know that lack of sleep can make you cranky. While this may not be a big deal during your youth, crankiness can be detrimental to your health during old age. In addition, lack of sleep can cause your body to react as though in distress. This is mostly due to your body releasing cortisol, known as the stress hormone due to its role in driving your body’s “fight or flight” response.
Thus, it’s more important than ever to get a sufficient amount of rest to prevent fatigue and other negative emotions associated with sleep deprivation. For senior adults, it’s best to get roughly 7 to 9 hours of sleep to maintain a calm demeanor and feel refreshed each day.
2. Spend More Time Outdoors
Taking the time to savor nature can do wonders for the way you handle stress. Aside from giving a boost of serotonin to improve your mood, spending time outdoors can lower your cortisol levels and regulate melatonin which helps decrease stress. Every day, make it a point to take in some fresh air and sunlight by going outside.
3. Practice Meditation
Spending a few minutes each day to just sit and meditate can significantly quiet your mind and increase your mindfulness. Meditation doesn’t have to be complex—in fact, it can be as simple as taking slow, deep breaths to relax your body.
Taking the time off to meditate does not mean running away from life’s stressors, either. It just means that you’re choosing a moment of peace while also acknowledging your triggers. Consider relaxing and meditative activities such as yoga and tai chi that can also improve your form and muscle function. Breathing exercises can also help.
4. Exercise Regularly
In addition to meditation and yoga, you may want to partake in non-strenuous exercises or other physical activities. Apart from giving you a serotonin release for a quick pick-me-up, exercise can increase your lung capacity, improve your bone density, and boost your cognitive health.
Consider doing a few minutes of flexibility, strengthening, and endurance exercises several times a week to make physical activity a regular habit. Just make sure to consult your doctor first before planning your physical activities or starting a new exercise regime.
5. Eat a Balanced Diet
Sometimes, the secret to getting less stressed lies in the food you eat. It’s always a good practice to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables to get your fill of vitamins and nutrients. Other than that, you may want to drink calming herbal tea and eat stress-busting snacks such as dark chocolate (rich in antioxidants), citrus fruits (high in vitamin C), and nuts (chock-full of B vitamins).
It may also help to eat foods rich in vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids, which are known to minimize stress, boost your mood, and improve brain health. Foods high in vitamin D and omega-3 fats include avocados and fatty fish such as salmon, sardines, herring, and mackerel.
Finally, it’s best to avoid excessive sugar intake, which can also lead to conditions such as diabetes and obesity. Sugar gives you an instant high and an energy kick, which may affect the stress and anxiety levels in your body.
6. Opt for a Simpler Schedule
The latter years of your life are best spent with peace and calmness, and for good reason. Aside from giving you a much-needed break after years of toiling, making lots of time for rest and relaxation will help you better manage your body’s increased fragility. Reassess your everyday to-do lists and eliminate activities that take up time but don’t matter to you. Instead of unnecessary tasks, make more time for things that fulfill you, such as partaking in hobbies, playing with pets, gardening, socializing with the community, or bonding with your grandkids.
7. Kick Your Bad Habits
The senior years are a time to pull the plug on all unhealthy habits you’ve developed in your youth to cope with stress, like excessive drinking, stress eating, and smoking. These will not improve your stress levels and are more likely to make your health issues worse. Lifestyle changes can be difficult, but you need to remember that these can go a long way in maintaining your health and putting loved ones’ minds at ease.
8. Attempt a Change in Mindset
Ultimately, preventing the adverse effects of stress on your body hinges upon your decision to make positive changes in your life. Sometimes, this simply means not letting bad days and unwanted situations get to you. Instead of grumbling, groveling, or resorting to old unhealthy habits, you can battle your triggers in a healthier way. The tips highlighted in this article are only some of the ways to do that, but in the end, it’s you who calls the shots on how to make your twilight years a lot more manageable.