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Ways to Reduce Stress and Find Balance as You Age

Many people assume that retirement is one big vacation, with few responsibilities and plenty of time to kick back. But the truth is, everyone experiences aging differently, and seniors face their share of tension in the present and anxiety about the future.

Enjoying the current moment isn’t always easy, even when you no longer report to the office every day. As you age, focusing on your own well-being is critical for continuing to live joyfully. What are some of the methods you can use to lower your stress level and achieve balance in your life?

Cultivate a Forgiving Mindset
Are you holding a grudge against someone? If so, set a goal of letting it go. Research has found that hanging onto an old grudge can have negative impacts on your health by keeping you in a stressed state and focusing on feelings of hostility and agitation.

In one study, subjects had higher blood pressure, quicker heart rates and more-stressed facial expressions when they imagined not forgiving someone. And researchers say that holding onto bitter feelings can impact the rates at which cardiovascular patients heal, along with their overall feelings of wellness.

In addition to forgiving others, it’s also important to forgive yourself. Everyone is human, and everyone makes mistakes. In fact, if you’ve lived to retirement age without any regrets, you’d be quite the rare individual. Practice kindness with yourself, and let past mistakes stay in the past.

See Challenges as Opportunities
As we get older, it should be easier to view negative events as times for learning and self-reflection. Unfortunately, challenges remain, and silver linings sometimes are difficult to find.

Facing challenges head-on can open up the possibility of failure, which people of all ages can find intimidating. Rather than focusing on a possible opportunity, you instead might get caught up in how failure might feel. As a result, you may avoid a challenge altogether and continue on the same path within your comfort zone.

By welcoming a challenging situation, you can continue to grow and develop as a unique individual. Instead of shying away from challenges, view them as chances for introspection and improvement.

Seek Out Your Happy Place
If you find yourself spending too much time alone or watching too much TV, consider what types of activities and pursuits could bring joy to your daily life. While you may feel that you’re too busy to take on a new hobby, it pays to devote some time to an activity you love.

Whether it’s volunteering with a group in your community, adopting and caring for a pet, gardening, creating art, making music, engaging in lively discussions, or other activities, find an avocation that you love — and dedicate some time to it on a daily or weekly basis.

Keep Your Body Healthy
By maintaining your body in the best possible working order, you help lower your stress levels and find balance in life. Most seniors know they should take proactive steps to support their health, but they may not do so until a medical crisis strikes.

By eating healthy, exercising and getting enough sleep, you help ensure your future happiness and overall sense of well-being. With a simple walk around the block, you support your health and lift your mood. Add some relaxation techniques like breathing exercises, and you’re well on your way to healthy stress reduction.

Live in the Present
As we age, we accumulate a lifetime of memories — both happy and sad. Without constant, conscious focusing on the present, it can become all too easy to live in the past. If you find being in the moment difficult, consider incorporating some proven techniques for finding the beauty in the current time.

One powerful method for fixing your attention on the present is meditation. By training your brain and body for mindfulness, you can manage stress and learn to enjoy the now. Another way to stay in the moment is with guided imagery, in which you use your imagination to visit settings that help you feel relaxed and calm.

Gravitate Toward Positive Influences
Life is too short to spend thinking negatively or hanging around toxic people. By minimizing negative influences — including media sources, places, activities and people — you give yourself mental space to focus on the positive.

Research has found that maintaining an optimistic attitude can positively impact your health and play a key role in stress management. Consider using self-talk that is gentle and supportive.

Protect Your Time
Your most valuable resource is your time. To promote stress reduction and balance in your life, guard your time as you would guard your savings account. Setting boundaries with loved ones, friends and acquaintances is key — and it’s not always easy.

Listen to your own needs and desires, and try not to get pulled into other people’s drama and problems. Clubs and organizations also can steal your time; participate if it’s enjoyable, but don’t let a single activity take over time you need for rest or other pursuits.

Express Yourself
Holding in your feelings is almost never the best plan of action for your mental and physical health and well-being. Self-expression is critical for living a joyful life, and you can choose among many methods for getting your feelings out.

Many seniors find solace in journaling, even if no one else ever sees the written words. Just a few minutes every day spent jotting down your feelings can help relieve stress. If writing isn’t your thing, consider expressing your feelings to a non-judgmental friend or loved one.

Embrace Solitude
Everyone needs some alone time, but finding solitude can pose challenges in our busy world. Spending time on your own can play a critical role in increasing your level of happiness, reducing your stress, and instilling a sense of balance in your life.

You can find some quiet moments in any number of solitary activities, including yoga, drawing, listening to music, reading, meditation, working on a craft project, or simply doing nothing. By giving yourself the gift of occasional solitude, you can go back to the real world feeling refreshed and joyful.

Nurture Relationships
Solitude is important for living a vibrant life, but so is maintaining relationships with the people most dear to you. Make an active effort to schedule time with family members and close friends. If you’re not already a good listener, try to really focus on the people you care about as you spend time with them.

Grabbing coffee, taking a walk in the park, seeing a movie, or enjoying a meal with a friend or family member can do wonders for lifting your mood and lowering your stress levels.

Spend Time on Self-Care
Whether you’ve raised a family, built a career, or engaged in community service — or all of the above — you likely are accustomed to spending time on everyone but yourself. To lower your stress level, find balance and truly enjoy your life, you’ll need to spend some time attending to your own needs.

At Havenwood Heritage Heights, we offer a multitude of ways for you to thrive. You can choose among a variety of activities to keep your mind and body active as you enjoy all the services and amenities we offer. To learn more about our vibrant retirement lifestyle, please contact us today.

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