Your retirement years are the perfect opportunity to relax, spend quality time with loved ones, and dive into meaningful hobbies. However, aging can also be a stressful experience. We face a number of challenges as we get older, including declining physical health, a loss of independence, financial strain, and changes in our family structure. Chronic stress is an unfortunately common problem for older adults, especially those who are going through major life transitions. Knowing how to relax and unwind is one of the keys to aging happily and healthily. Some of us find it easy to incorporate relaxation tips into our daily routines. Others find it much harder to slow down and take time for themselves. If you’re naturally a high-stress or excitable person, you might have to make a conscious effort to relax.
Here Are Eight Relaxation Tips for Seniors
1. Low-impact Exercise
Exercise is one of the best activities for stress management for people of all ages. Although physical activity may seem like the opposite of relaxation, exercise has long-term mental health benefits. Working out allows you to channel anxious energy in a healthy way. It also causes your brain to release stress-relieving hormones, which can make life’s challenges feel more manageable.
Exercising may be more difficult for seniors than for younger adults. However, there are plenty of low-impact options. Older adults who like group activities could try chair yoga or water aerobics. If you prefer solo ventures, you could go for walks or try gentle bodyweight exercises at home.
Even the most introverted among us need quality time with their loved ones. Socializing is an excellent way to relax and relieve stress. Sometimes, talking through stressful or frustrating situations can make you feel better. In other cases, simply connecting with your loved ones is helpful regardless of whether or not you actually talk about your stress.
Isolation is a major concern for older adults. If you spend most of your time at home alone, you might start to feel tense, anxious, or on-edge. Try to have contact with another person at least daily. You could text, call, or video chat with a friend or family member. Your local senior center or library may offer clubs or host events, too.
3. Time in Nature
Spending time in nature is one of the best but most underutilized relaxation tips. Being in nature can help you clear your mind and feel more grounded. It can even reduce the physical markers of stress, such as blood pressure and heart rate. Gardening is one great way for seniors to access nature. You and a friend or family member could also take a trip to a local park or hiking trail. Even just one trip out in nature per week can help you feel more calm and relaxed overall.
4. Deep Breathing
Deep breathing can be a powerful relaxation strategy when you’re feeling stressed, anxious, or overwhelmed. The technique activates your parasympathetic nervous system, which helps your body physically relax. As your body calms down, your mind feels calmer and clearer as well.
One popular deep breathing exercise is 4-7-8 breathing. To practice this, try inhaling for four counts, holding your breath for seven counts, and exhaling for eight counts. You could also try diaphragmatic breathing, which focuses on using your diaphragm muscle to take deep and full breaths. Try placing your hand on your abdomen as you take a slow, deep breath. If you’re fully engaging your diaphragm, your belly should expand as you inhale.
5. Mindfulness Meditation
Mindfulness meditation has a wide variety of mental health benefits. You can practice mindfulness on your own, or you could use guided audio or video resources for support. The goal behind mindfulness is to be completely focused on the present moment. As thoughts float through your mind, you acknowledge them without judgment and then let them go.
The meditation only needs to last for a few minutes a day for you to experience the relaxing benefits. Even five minutes of daily meditation can pay off. Practicing this meditation can help you feel more present and centered in your daily life. When stressful or frustrating events happen, it becomes easier to respond to them without getting worked up.
Some scents may have a calming and relaxing effect. You could try making your home feel more peaceful by using an essential oil diffuser or lighting candles throughout your home. It may take some time to find your favorite scents, but once you do, you can use them to calm down when you’re feeling stressed. Keep in mind that essential oils are highly concentrated and can be harsh if used in large amounts.
7. Art and Music
If you’re an artistic person, pursuing a creative hobby can be a great way to relax each day. Seniors sometimes feel bored or aimless after retirement, so finding meaningful new hobbies is essential. Painting, drawing, or making crafts can be very soothing, and you end up with a beautiful final result.
Music can be an excellent creative outlet, too. If you play an instrument, take some time every day to play your favorite pieces. If not, listen to your favorite songs when you feel stressed or anxious. Many seniors are particularly drawn to the music they listened to as young adults, but any songs that relax you are worth listening to.
If you’re struggling with your mental and emotional health, you might try all the relaxation tips in the world without success. When chronic stress or anxiety become too severe, they can feel impossible to treat on your own. Counseling can help you process and understand your emotions and develop positive coping skills so that you can keep calm during difficult moments.
Blue Moon Senior Counseling offers therapy for older adults. Our counselors specialize in working with seniors, so we understand the unique struggles that older adults face. If you or a loved one needs mental health support, reach out to us today.