How to manage stress as you age
Slow down. Breathe. Take it easy.
Friday 24th July is Stress Down Day, an initiative designed to reduce stress and raise funds for Lifeline Australia. Usually we relate stress to busy, demanding lives however, for our older loved ones enjoying a quieter life, stress still exists and they may no longer have the coping mechanisms to manage as they once did – especially if they have a chronic disease, reduced mobility or cognitive impairment.
Whilst we cannot necessarily remove the issues causing a loved ones stress, there are simple methods available to help them manage it:
I Like to Move It, Move It
Yes, physical activity does seem to be a handy solution to almost every life problem! The endorphins produced through physical activity act as a natural pain relief and aide sleep, which in turn reduces stress.
At The Richardson, we understand the importance of physical activity for both physical and mental well-being and offer an array of daily exercise routines including, cardio, resistance training, weight training and seated yoga/stretch. We also provide regular exercise sessions in our indoor, heated pool.
If you’re looking for seniors exercise programs in your area COTAWA (Council of the Aging WA) created Strength for LifeTM an evidence based progressive strength training and exercise program designed specifically for the over 50’s with providers throughout WA.
In the heat of the moment when stress begins to takeover, one of the best things we can do is slow down and focus on our breath. The Five Finger Breathing technique is ideal in stressful situations as it forces us to activate multiple senses (touch and sight) whilst focusing on separate locations in the body (hands and lungs). The technique allows us to calm down and refocus. It’s a handy habit to develop as you can do it anywhere and is suitable for adults and children alike.
There have been thousands of scientific studies which have proven meditation to be beneficial on the mind & body. At The Richardson we have weekly relaxation & guided meditation sessions to help our residents quiet their mind and de-stress.
These days with the touch of a button it’s easy to find a relaxation meditation right for you and your loved one. Here are a few we recommend:
- Smiling Mind: a unique tool developed by psychologists and educators to help bring balance to your life.
- Calm: Sleep more. Stress less. Live Better.
- Buddhify: a meditation app designed to fit into a busy modern lifestyle.
- Headspace: teaching you the life-changing skills of meditation and mindfulness in just a few minutes a day.
Pastoral care and support is valuable and one’s faith can be of great comfort to them. Whilst it may not be our own, joining a loved one in their practice can provide much needed support and understanding. During COVID-19 ‘Let’s Worship’ was introduced at The Richardson; a session including hymns, short readings by our residents and the recital of prayers and psalms together. The gatherings were very well received and have now become a fixture on our lifestyle calendar.
Research indicates that having a dog, cat or other animal companion may in fact lower stress. Interacting with animals has been proven to decrease levels of cortisol (a stress-related hormone) and lower blood pressure. Although, it is also important to take into account all care and budget requirements when considering a pet. The RSPCA Adopt a Pet program makes it easy to adopt the right pet for you or a loved one with the ability to search online and filter by type, location and age (puppy v senior pet).
At The Richardson we welcome the furry friends of our residents, families and staff and have a pet and animal companion policy in place to ensure everyone is comfortable and safe with any visiting pets.
We’re not saying enrol yourself and your loved one in a summer art class… what we are saying is let’s get out of our heads and immerse ourselves in something we love. Whether it be art, craft, cooking or gardening – all these activities give us the opportunity to get creative. At The Richardson, we have myriad activities to ensure our residents get their creative juices flowing; from painting and art sessions through to gardening, games, singing and more.
As part of Stress Down Day tomorrow, give yourself a break, count to 5, let go, relax and call a loved one to let them know just that.
If you require support or wish to speak to someone about your situation or that of a loved one, please don’t hesitate to contact us on (08) 9381 2800.