Even after retirement, stress has a way of creeping into our lives. But allowing it to overtake your life can lead to health issues down the road. They call stress the silent killer. Over time, it can lead to heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and a host of other illnesses.
Here are ten tips to help you better manage the stress in your life.
1. Find a Hobby – and Friends to Share It With
Taking up a hobby will give you something to look forward to doing, and finding friends to share it with will help you enjoy some much-needed time with people you care about.
- Join a quilting bee or knitting group
- Work on the community garden
- Join a book club
Having a hobby will take your mind off of whatever it is that’s stressing you out. Even if it’s just for 10 –15 minutes, that time spent focused on your hobby will give your mind and body a chance to relax.
2. Practice Meditation and Gratitude
Studies have shown that meditation can provide stress relief and make it easier for your body to handle stress in the future.
The great thing about meditation is that it doesn’t cost you a thing, and doesn’t require any additional equipment. You can meditate anytime, anywhere.
Along with meditation, you might consider practicing gratitude. One simple way to do this is to keep a gratitude journal. Write down all of the things you are thankful for in your life.
In one study involving two groups of people, one group was asked to keep a journal about the things they were grateful for, and the other group was asked to keep a journal of the things that irritated them. After ten weeks, the group that wrote down the things they were grateful for had a more optimistic attitude and felt better about their lives.
Before you go to sleep at night, remind yourself of three positive things that happened that day.
3. Try Breathing Exercises
Breathing exercises are a quick and effective way to relieve stress. They can be practiced anywhere and at any time.
Controlling your breathing will help calm your mind and relieve tension.
- Take ten deep breaths
- Inhale and exhale slowly
Slow, controlled breaths give the body a chance to slow down and relax. While you’re breathing, take the time to focus on being in the present moment and enjoying the silence. Relishing in a moment of silence will allow you to shift your focus away from the stresses of the day. It will also calm your mind and help stop the constant chatter that can make stress even more difficult to manage.
4. Stay Active
Exercise releases endorphins, those feel-good hormones that can help counteract the effects of stress. Harvard Medical School says light exercise actually reduces stress hormones.
There’s no need to engage in strenuous exercise, but getting up and moving will help alleviate tension and make you feel more relaxed.
Try taking a simple walk through the neighborhood or a local park. If you want something a little more rigorous, go for a swim. Water aerobics is a great way to get the body moving and the heart pumping.
5. Stretch or Practice Yoga
Stretching helps alleviate physical tension in the body and promotes relaxation. Studies have shown that gentle stretches are effective at relieving stress. Couple the stretching with deep breathing exercises, and you can boost the relaxing effects of stretching.
If you want to go beyond simple stretches, give yoga a try. A gentle yoga class will get you moving while stretching your tense muscles. Yoga has been shown to reduce stress, lower your heart rate, and lower your blood pressure.
6. Get in Touch with Nature
Studies have shown that being in nature can actually reduce stress and lower cortisol levels. Try taking a 15-30-minute walk in the park, or sit quietly in a comfortable place outdoors to relax.
Nature reduces anger and fear while increasing pleasant feelings. Even just looking at pictures of nature can help trigger these effects. Research has shown that just having a simple plant in the room can help alleviate stress and anxiety in hospital patients.
7. Get a Massage
Massages are highly effective at relieving stress. They alleviate muscle tension while promoting circulation and relaxation. Many massage therapists also use aromatherapy to add to the experience. Scents like lavender have calming effects on the body.
Take the time to pamper yourself and book a massage at a local spa or right in your own home in a high quality massage chair.
8. Take a Bubble Bath
If a massage isn’t in your budget, taking a bubble bath can help recreate the spa experience at home. Light some candles, turn on your favorite music and soak in a warm bath.
For added relaxation, try adding Epsom salt to the water. Give yourself some time to unwind and relax.
9. Sing and Dance
Sometimes, the best cure for stress is music. Dance and sing your cares away. Whether you’re singing in the shower or having fun at a night of karaoke, singing and dancing will help take the blues away.
Dancing gets you moving, which releases endorphins, and it’s also fun. Having fun is a natural stress reliever.
Reading, like hobbies, allow you to focus on something other than your troubles. Books allow you to learn and keep you engaged in a story. Whether you like fiction or non-fiction, reading can relax your mind and your body.