national stress awareness monthWhen you retired, you might have thought that the stress in your life would just vanish (poof!), right along with your career. But unfortunately, these are also the years when friends and spouses pass away, serious health problems can develop, and financial difficulties can sometimes make the future look less than rosy.

In other words, stress doesn’t go away as you age; it just looks a little different. Plus, it’s much harder on you, not only causing you to age faster but also leading to health issues, including cancer, heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, a weakened immune system and memory issues.

With April National Stress Awareness Month, it’s time to take stock of what’s making your heart race, your palms sweat and your stomach ache. And if you can’t get rid of these stressors altogether, you can at least institute some better habits to more effectively deal with them.

Here are several good ways to start:

Stay connected

Being able to open up and share your anxieties with family and friends can obviously help defuse them but having relationships has even greater benefits when it comes to dealing with stress. Social connections can also prevent the flood of stress hormones in your body, which can keep many diseases at bay, thereby adding years to your life.

Get moving

Exercise can reduce stress by boosting the endorphins that make you feel good and distracting you from your worries. It can also counteract the effects of stress on your sleep, which is so vital in dealing with stress throughout your day. In a recent study, physically fit women in their mid-60s were found to have essentially the same response to stress as women in their late 20s who were not in good shape.

Eat better

That candy bar might ameliorate your anxiety in the short term, but there are a number of foods that are better in arming you to combat stress for the long haul. For example, complex carbs, such as whole grain breads and oatmeal, boost serotonin that calms you, while omega-3 fatty acids found in salmon and tuna can prevent spikes in stress hormones. Snacking on nuts can protect from the effects of stress and drinking black tea can help you bounce back from stress more quickly.

Be mindful

Stress is often caused by worrying about something that happened yesterday or could happen tomorrow. Through meditation, positive affirmations, yoga, deep breathing or even coloring in an adult coloring book, you remain completely in the moment and push feelings of worry and anxiety out of your mind.

 

Share how you manage stress.

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