August 15 is National Relaxation Day. While old age and retirement are often thought of as a person’s golden years, there are many things to make life stressful for older adults. From dealing with chronic illness, to the loss of a loved one, to financial insecurity, many older adults feel stress and have trouble relaxing. This is problematic for older adults because stress can have a negative impact on one’s health and general wellbeing. Luckily, there are many relaxation techniques that older adults can utilize to relax and find relief from stress and anxiety.
Relaxation techniques can help you reduce the effects of stress on your body and brain, helping you deal with everyday stress. Benefits of relaxation are numerous and include lowered blood pressure, better blood sugar control, reduced fatigue, reduced muscle tension and pain, reduced anger, and improved sleep and mood. Keep reading for tips on relaxation techniques.
Engaging in physical activity is important for both physical and mental health. Exercise has been proven to reduce anxiety and stress while boosting your mood, helping you relax. If you have trouble finding motivation to exercise, pick a form of physical activity that is fun, like taking a dance class or walking around the mall and enjoying the window displays. Exercising with others, such as joining a walking group, can also help exercise be more enjoyable. Try activities like walking, yoga, swimming, dancing, or gardening.
One technique for relaxation is known as visualization. With visualization, you form images in your mind to take you on a visual journey towards a peaceful and calming destination or situation. To do this, you can find a quiet and peaceful spot. Sit down, close your eyes, and get in a comfortable position. Focus on your breathing, be in the present moment, and think about positive thoughts. Engage as many of your senses as you can. For example, if you think about walking in the woods, imagine the sounds of the birds and a burbling stream, the fresh scent of the trees, and the feeling of a cool breeze. This technique can help you sleep better, reduce stress, and relax. Learn more about visualization.
Meditation is a popular form of relaxation. There are two types of meditation, transcendental meditation and mindfulness meditation. With transcendental meditation, you repeat a mantra, meaning a single word or a phrase in your head until you reach a state of inner peace. This allows you to settle your body down and enter a more relaxed state in which your mind is quiet, and your body is relaxed. Mindfulness meditation on the other hand involves focusing on the present and on your thoughts, breathing, feelings, and sensations that you experience in that moment. You accept those feelings and sensations, acknowledging them and letting them go. Check guided mindfulness mediations that you can do at home.
Meditation has many benefits for seniors and can help you cope with the challenges that come with aging. By helping you focus on the present, meditation can help you stop worrying about the future and realize that in that moment, you are calm and okay. You can learn to let fears and negative thoughts go by learning how to respond to life’s stressors. Meditation can reduce stress, depression, and pain while improving your emotional wellbeing, making it a good method for relaxation. For seniors with limited mobility, meditation is a great technique for relaxation because it can be done pretty much anywhere, including sitting in a chair, laying down, or even standing up with a cane or a walker.
Other Relaxation Techniques
There are many other ways to relax, including:
- Art and music
- Tai chi
- Deep breathing
- Interacting with animals
- Autogenic training