Studies found that older adults have better and more improved mental health than those who are in their 20s and 30s, including stress levels. But this doesn’t mean that stress lessens as you get older. It just shows that the older you get, the more you learn about how to manage your stress levels in your own way.
There are causes of stress that younger adults can handle better than older ones and vice versa, like the loss of a loved one, for example. Generally, younger adults tend to manage this cause of stress better because life goes on for them. They have their career and other loved ones to support. Older people also worry so much about their health, and stress is adding to it, unfortunately.
Stress doesn’t make a person look or feel older. In fact, it can cause aging to become faster. According to a study published in the Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences, stress can add ages to an individual cell of the immune system. Thus, making it weaker if you carry too much stress.
How does stress impact your overall health?
Too much physical and emotional stress can negatively affect your physical health. It can lead to heart disease, hypertension, and it can even weaken your immune system. Your heart rate and blood pressure increase abnormally if you’re chronically stressed, hence, making your heart work harder than usual or more than it can manage.
The inability to manage stress can be aligned with anxiety and depression and lead to an actual mental or mood disorder. Since it is normal for older adults to be susceptible to these health conditions, stress management becomes even more critical.
Many studies have been conducted regarding the three types of coping strategies: task-oriented, emotion-oriented, and avoidance-oriented coping.
Task-oriented coping is a strategy for people who prefer to solve or limit the impact of stress in a stressful situation. If you have a problem that causes you so much trouble, the way you would cope with this is to solve the problem as soon as possible. This way, the stress would disappear as well.
Emotion-oriented coping is limiting and controlling the emotional effect of the stress rather than solving the actual thing that causes the stress. Examples of this are emotional disclosure—such as expressing strong feelings through talking or writing about negative emotions. Journaling or guided journaling can be a big help, too, like listing off the things you’re grateful for every day: breathing exercises, meditation, and mindfulness. Things like stress eating, drinking alcohol, and taking drugs are said to be effective, yet temporarily and unhealthily, and can lead to eating disorders and addiction.
Avoidance-oriented coping is a way of reducing the stress that involves the use of distraction and diversion that is completely disassociated from the stressful situation. If you’re highly stressed because of work, a way to reduce your stress is to do something entirely different to forget or avoid the stress. Binge-watching series and movies, cooking and baking, and shopping are some examples of this. Healthier and proven options are reading, exercising, gardening, and housecleaning.
Other Ways to Manage Stress as You Age
Although you naturally learn these things as you get older, it’s never too early and unnecessary to know more about stress management. Only you can decide this, and only you can determine how you do it.
Having a positive perspective in life is one of the most effective ways to cope with stress and anxiety. A study says that positive people who feel good about themselves as they get older live longer—about seven and a half years. People with neutral or positive attitudes can also handle stress better and are more willing to live.
Regular exercise is a proven, trusted way to bust unwanted stress. People of all ages and lifestyles can afford to do it. Daily walking alone has many benefits and can boost your overall health, including strengthening bones and muscles and improving sleep quality. For older people, taking these kinds of classes can help, keeping your discipline to do it as regularly as possible. You can even take them online, like aerobics, Zumba, yoga, or tai chi classes.
Maintaining strong social connections and interactions is a healthy way of keeping you from too much stress as you age, whether it’s with your family or friends. This significantly impacts seniors wherein it can calm them down can help them stay mentally sharp, reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
Stress should not be detrimental as you grow older. Know how to manage along aging so that you can remain mentally healthy.